San Sebastian in the Basque country is bubbling with excitement ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Real Sociedad in their latest Champion’s league match.
Tickets are gold dust despite Real having yet to score a point in Group A. But it has been a decade since the club played at this level, and they will have high hopes of springing a surprise on United, who are dawdling in eighth place in England and looking suspect at the back. Neither Johnny Evans not Rafael will play after weekend injuries, weakening David Moyes’ defensive options further.
Juventus too are off the top in Italy, although their European form is strong, and they will be coming up against Real Madrid. This looks pretty much to be the tie of the evening, with the Spanish side great in attack, but still suspect behind. Group B is finely poised.
“We have come from three successive victories in the championships, great victories, overwhelming. We are hoping to have a game that is very, very good and I reiterate it’s fundamental to go through to the next round. And as I’ve always said, we’ve got to show on the field, as we did in Madrid,” says Juventus coach Antonio Conté.
PSG face Anderlecht who they dismissed away five nil last time out. The French champions have three wins already in Group C, and 12 goals scored for only one conceded. They can seal the deal for the quarter-finals tonight.
They can even win the group if the other match between Benfica and Olympiakos is a draw. Lucky? Well, you make your own luck and this expensively-assembled side will be looking to make sure none of their at times slipshod ways creep back into their game.
Manuel Pellegrini said his Man City would “win everything” when he took over, but his expensively-assembled side has yet to convince despite showing flashes of enterprise. Yet this fixture will be all about the fans, at least the visiting ones. Will there be any repeat of the rascist chanting heard in Moscow?
“I don’t know what the relationship between both clubs is like, but the fans of CSKA made an important mistake there. The club – I don’t know why they denied it at the beginning, I don’t know now what their reaction is, but I think that UEFA acted and gave them the punishment that they deserved,” he said.
Joe Hart is once again rested, and striker Stevan Jovetic has a calf injury. If City win,if the other result in Group D is in their favour, they will qualify for the Champion’s League knockout stage for the first time tonight. A cause for celebration for sure, but the road remains long and next May is far away.