The Union of European Football Associations’ Champions League is undoubtedly the most exciting club level soccer competition around. Every year, Europe’s best squads are pitted against each other in a round-robin of group play and then four rounds of two-legged knockout rounds. The world’s best players populate these teams, making for the most exciting set of matches every year, as well as the best and most meaningful goals. Expect to see some of the action on ESPN’s top 10 plays videos. If the matches are not on television, use rojadirecta.tv.
Manchester United vs. Real Madrid: March 5, 2:45 p.m.
The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid ended in a 1-1 tie. Danny Welbeck and Cristiano Ronaldo each scored off headers for Madrid and United, respectively. This tie gives United a one-point aggregate advantage, so it will be as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “squeaky bum time,” at Old Trafford Stadium. United goalie David de Gea and a strong defense will be instrumental at keeping former United star turned Galactico Ronaldo from giving his former team the boot.
Paris Saint-Germain F.C. vs. Valencia C.F.: March 6, 2:45 p.m.
All the money in the world, or from Qatar Investment Authority, couldn’t give the star-studded French squad an easy win over Valencia in the first leg, and they won’t have an easy victory in this game either. The Spanish side kept pushing and challenging PSG until the final whistle of the 90 minutes. Valencia will have to come up big in Paris, as the 2-1 loss at home makes the aggregate score an unfavorable 4-1. But be sure to watch as the players’ performances are unpredictable.
F.C. Barcelona vs. A.C. Milan: March 12, 3:45 p.m.
The surprise of the round was more Barcelona’s loss 0-2 rather than Milan’s 2-0 win at their home pitch, San Siro Stadium. It was undoubtedly a shocking upset, but can Milan repeat? They will need a second stellar performance from Kevin-Prince Boateng to stay up in the aggregate, as Milan should expect to be scored on at least twice at Camp Nou. If Barcelona turns their possessive midfield to an attacking force, expect a high scoring game.
Malaga C.F. vs. F.C. Porto: March 13, 3:45 p.m.
Although these two are not internationally recognizable teams, their match may be the closest, most competitive match of the round. The first leg was a tight match with few scoring chances, which ended by the minimum score for a victory: the Portuguese side won 1-0. Porto’s offensive midfield, comprised of Lucho Gonzales and James Rodriguez, will be a test for the older Malaga side. Expect another 1-0 home win and thus a penalty shootout to decide who advances to the quaterfinal round.
A version of this article was published in the Tuesday, March 5 print edition. Francisco Navas is deputy sports editor. Email him at [email protected]