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Bayern vs Real Madrid, Juventus vs Barcelona in Champions League quarters

Both Madrid and Bayern are also currently leading the standings in their respective domestic leagues.

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Nyon (Switzerland), March 17 : The Champions League draw pits Europe’s four heavyweight football clubs in the quarter-finals that also see underdogs vying for a place in the final four showdown. The draw, held here on Friday, left Bayern Munich facing Real Madrid and Juventus grappling with FC Barcelona — in two pairings that are set to absorb soccer fans and viewers across the globe.

The ceremony, presided over by UEFA’s director of competitions, Giorgio Marchetti, also portended a hard-fought battle between Atletico Madrid and Leicester City, while Borussia Dortmund will clash with AS Monaco, reports Efe.

This season’s competition, called “The Road to Cardiff,” will see the two surviving teams clash in the final on June 3 at the Welsh capital’s magnificent Millennium Stadium.

The first-leg matches are set to be played on April 11-12 at the home stadiums of Atletico, Dortmund, Bayern and Juventus, while the second leg is scheduled for April 18-19 in the cities of Leicester, Montecarlo, Madrid and Barcelona.

Bayern-Real Madrid is a classic of European competitions and promises be one of the most attractive clashes, as it pitches coach Carlo Ancelotti against his former team, now led by his ex-assistant Zinedine Zidane.

“The match against Real Madrid will be special for me. It is going to be exciting to play against them,” said Ancelotti, adding that his side wanted to win the Champions League this season.

Both clubs have won the title many times, with Madrid defending the championship this year (they hold the record of 11 cups won) and the Bavarians winning five out of 10 finals they have played.

“There are no easy games in the Champions League and we’re up against a tough and driven opponent. They are a strong team that are doing well. It will be a joy to watch for football fans around the world,” Zidane told his club’s website.

Both Madrid and Bayern are also currently leading the standings in their respective domestic leagues.

Barcelona against Juventus is a repeat of the 2014-15 Champions League final, which ended with a 1-3 victory for the former, adding to the Catalans’ record-shattering treble that season.

Record Italian champions Juventus, who hold the record of being the team who has finished as the runners-up the most times (six), will pursue their third title of the competition.

Meanwhile, Barcelona seek to secure their sixth win and become third in the ranking of total number of championships won after Milan (seven titles) and Real Madrid.

“It will be a passionate, difficult and beautiful tie. We will face a great team with many good players. We will have to play two great matches to get to the next round,” Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta said of Juventus.

“As well as having that solid (defensive) block typical of Italian teams, they have players who can make the difference, some of the best in every position who are at a very high level. It will be a difficult tie but with our capabilities we aim to push the tie in our favour.”

Juventus vice president and former star Pavel Nedved said: “It’s a fascinating tie. We know what a strong side Barcelona are, but we must be brave and take the game to them.

“We’ve come on a long way since the last time we crossed paths in the 2015 final and I believe that this is the right time to be facing them again. I believe that we’ve reached Barcelona’s level this season.”

Atletico Madrid will face the opponent everyone was hoping for, Leicester City, in what nevertheless looks to be a competitive match-up.

Diego Simeone’s team will attempt to finally nab its first title after having lost three finals in the past, two of them against its arch-rival from Madrid.

The reigning English champion will attempt to continue their adventure in the Champions League, a competition they enter for the first time, even after a relatively-poor performance this domestic season and the departure of the coach that led the team to a historical championship win, Italian Claudio Ranieri.

Since coach Craig Shakespeare replaced the Italian, the Foxes have won three consecutive matches.

The last clash will put Borussia Dortmund, who won the cup in 1997, against Monaco, the current Ligue 1 leader which deservingly eliminated Manchester City in the last round and now seeks to reach its second Champions League final.

Monaco lost by 0-3 the 2003-2004 edition to FC Porto, then helmed by Jose Mourinho, in the AufSchalke Arena in Gelsenkirchen (Germany).

Also on Friday, Europa League quarter-finalists confirmed their opponents ahead. Manchester United, aiming for the title to secure one next season’s CL qualification spot, will play against Belgian side Anderlecht, while Lyon are set to meet Beskitas of Turkey.

The other two encounters are Celta Vigo vs Genk, Ajax vs Schalke. The two legs of Europa League quarter-finals will be held on April 13 and 20.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Tony Kroos fives Germany win over Sweden

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Sochi, June 24 : Tony Kroos produced a last gasp winner as Germany revived their campaign with a 2-1 win over Sweden in a Group F match of the FIFA World Cup here.

Ola Toivonen gave Sweden the lead with a superb finish in the 32nd minute during the match on Saturday.

Germany displayed large doses of their famed fighting spirit as they staged a strong comeback in the second half.

Marco Reus (48th minute) got the equaliser early in the second half.

Germany left everything to the last minute, scoring in the 95th minute, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing elimination from the World Cup in the group stage.

The Germans felt disaster coming when Ola Toinoven scored the first goal in the 32nd minute, giving Sweden a 1-0 lead by half time, Efe news reports.

To Germany’s relief, Marco Reus scored three minutes into the second half off a cross from the left by Timo Werner, giving his teammates the jolt of energy and confidence they needed.

Germany soon took control of the match, achieving nearly 80 per cent possession of the ball and finding several clear chances to score, although the Swedish defence held the line.

Even though Jerome Boateng received a red card in the 83rd minute, the Germans continued to play as one would expect from the former World Cup champions.

In the 89th minute, Germany’s Mario Gomez was close to scoring with a superb header that was deflected by keeper Robin Olsen.

It wasn’t until the 95th minute that Germany sealed their 2-1 victory with a free kick by Toni Kroos from the left of the box, beautifully curling the ball into the far corner of the net.

The rest of the game saw the Germans dominate as they created and wasted a hatful of chances.

The Swedish defence also did well, holding the defending champions at bay with some last ditch defending.

Kroos finally found the winner five minutes into second half added time when he curled in a free-kick at the far post.

Sweden and Germany are now tied in Group F with three points each, while Mexico is in first place with six points and South Korea is last with zero point.

Germany have three points from two matches and will face South Korea in their final group engagement.

Sweden, who had beaten the Koreans in their first match, remained on three points as well.

They will take on Mexico in their third and final group match.

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World Cup 2018: Germany face must-win against Sweden

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Sochi, June 23: Holders Germany will have to beat Sweden in order to avoid an early exit from the FIFA World Cup when the two sides meet in a crunch Group F clash at the Fisht Stadium here on Saturday.

Blessed with a strong squad brimming with talented players, Germany were hot contenders to become the first team in 56 years to retain the World Cup.

But after a shock 0-1 defeat to Mexico, the jolted four-time winners will have their task cut out against Sweden. A reversal will all but end their campaign.

“Everyone is aware that this is our first ‘final’, it’s annoying that it comes so early, but it’s self-inflicted,” team director Oliver Bierhoff was quoted as saying.

Germany were all over the place in the first half against Mexico and their heroics in Brazil four years ago seemed distant.

After the defeat, there have been catcalls to drop under-performing players like Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.

Sweden, meanwhile, will believe they can cause another upset after their confidence lifting 1-0 win over Korea Republic. This was their first win in the competition since hosting the tournament in 1958.

The Swedes are no strangers to upsetting the odds, beating France during qualification and getting past Italy in the play-offs, so an under-performing German side will hold no fears for Janne Anderson’s men.

IANS

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FIFA WC 2018: Confident Mexico up against under-pressure Koreans

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Mexico FIFA 2018

Rostov-on-Don (Russia), June 23: A confident Mexico will be eyeing their second win to seal a pre-quarterfinal berth when they take on South Korea in a Group F match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Rostov Arena here on Saturday.

The South Americans were impressive during their 1-0 win over defending champions Germany in their campaign opener where they put on one of the best team performances.

Meanwhile, the Asian side will be under pressure after going down 0-1 to Sweden on Monday and are facing the prospect of being eliminated at the group stage in a second consecutive World Cup.

Korea head coach Shin Tae-yong will certainly be wanting something special from his side to keep themselves alive in the mega event.

The Koreans played well in their first match, but found the going tough against the tall, physically strong Swedes.

While the Koreans did well in the midfield, the well-organised Sweden defence coupled with the Europeans’ physical advantage proved too much for them.

While most of the Mexican players do not have too much of a physical presence, their superior skills and tactical ability will present a different sort of challenge for the Koreans.

Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio will be hoping for a repeat show from his side and despite being known for reshuffling his lineup, he is not expected to make much changes against the Koreans.

Hirving Lozano, star for Mexico against Germany, scored the only game of the match and will be eager to go against South Korea to find the back of the net again.

However, despite having a great start to their campaign and being favourites in Saturday’s clash, Mexico midfielder Marco Fabian believes his side has to still do a lot.

“We reached our first target and have beaten Germany, but we can’t sit back,” Fabian told the media.

“Some consider us to be group favourites now, and that’s a compliment – but it’s one we shouldn’t believe. There are no favourites in this World Cup,” he added.

On the other hand, Koreans after suffering a defeat by Sweden, would have to reconsider their 4-3-3 formation which handed space to their opponents in the first game.

South Korea midfielder Koo Ja-cheol said his teammates were preparing to tackle Mexico and had found striker Javier Hernandezas as one of the major threat.

“Of course we are not ready to give up. Everyone put in so much effort to get here,” Koo said.

“What we want is to turn fans’ disappointment into joy,” he added.

Overall, it will be a herculean task for the Asian outfit to pull off a victory against the Mexicans on Saturday.

IANS

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