Mbappe, Griezmann and Firmino out to ease barren runs – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk February 16, 2021

Tuesday sees the return of the Champions League as the first two last-16 ties get started, including arguably the pick of the bunch; Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain.

While we have been robbed of the Messi v Neymar narrative after the Brazilian was ruled out for four weeks with an adductor injury last week, there should still be plenty of talent on display.

Messi can still expect to be the focus, given the strong transfer links to PSG, while the Parisians will be hoping for a hint of revenge for the famous 'Remontada' of 2016-17.

Also in action on Tuesday are Liverpool and RB Leipzig, with the Germans' home leg taking place in Budapest due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions imposed in Germany.

Ahead of the two tantalising fixtures, here are the key stats for both games…

Barcelona v PSG

4 – Barca and PSG last met at this same stage in 2016-17, when the Catalans became the only team to ever qualify for the next round in the Champions League after losing by at least four goals in the first leg. They won the second leg 6-1 in Camp Nou.

14 – Barca are hoping to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the a record 14th consecutive campaign. They were last eliminated at this stage in 2006-07 by Liverpool.

10 – While PSG have only one away win against Spanish opposition (Valencia) in the Champions League knockout phase, Barca have never lost at home to a French side in 10 such games in this competition.

2 – Antoine Griezmann has more yellow cards (two) than he has Champions League goal involvements (one assist) for Barca at Camp Nou in seven appearances.

1 – Kylian Mbappe has scored only one goal in his nine Champions League knockout games with PSG. He had found the net six times in six knockout games with Monaco.

RB Leipzig v Liverpool

0 – RB Leipzig have played 22 matches in the Champions League – none have ended goalless.

8.9 – While Liverpool are known for their effective pressing, Leipzig are even more aggressive. The German have allowed their opponents just 8.9 passes on average before intervening defensively in the competition this season, the lowest figure of any side in 2020-21.

1 – Roberto Firmino has scored only one goal in his previous 16 Champions League games. That came in last season's last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid.

6 – Leipzig wing-back Angelino has contributed three goals and three assists in the Champions League this term – Alvaro Morata (six goals, one assist) is the sole Spaniard with more goal involvements in 2020-21.

45 – Liverpool were the only team not to concede a single goal in the first 45 minutes of matches in the group stage.

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  • Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid: Benzema leaves it late as leaders' wait for Derbi win goes on Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid: Benzema leaves it late as leaders' wait for Derbi win goes on

    Karim Benzema's late equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for Real Madrid at rivals Atletico Madrid and extended their unbeaten run in El Derbi to 10 LaLiga matches.

    Atleti are the side in the ascendancy in Spain's top flight this season, but they have been second best in their own city in recent years and could not end a poor sequence in this fixture on Sunday.

    Luis Suarez's 10th league strike against Madrid had appeared enough for a precious victory, yet missed chances came back to bite Diego Simeone's men as the long-serving Atleti coach was denied a club-record 309th win in the job.

    Benzema, fit again to captain the side, marked his 371st LaLiga appearance – a record among Madrid's non-Spanish players – with an 88th-minute leveller to maintain the champions' interest in the title race.

    Madrid stay third, five points behind Atleti, but Barcelona – winners against Osasuna on Saturday – are now within three of the leaders, who have one win in five in all competitions.

    While Madrid have a hold over their neighbours, no player has scored more league goals against Los Blancos than Suarez since he moved to Spain in 2014 and the Uruguayan made the most of the game's first chance of note after 15 minutes.

    Marcos Llorente beat Nacho on halfway and advanced to slide through a pass that met the well-timed run of Suarez, who shaped a fine low finish around Thibaut Courtois.

    The first half was otherwise short of goalmouth action, although Madrid's appeals for handball by Felipe prompted a VAR review shortly before the break, only for referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez to stick with his original decision rather than awarding a penalty.

    Courtois twice came to Lucas Vazquez's rescue at the start of the second period as he was exposed up against Yannick Carrasco, brilliantly blocking from both the rampaging winger and Suarez.

    It appeared as though the brilliance of Atleti's own goalkeeper would ensure those stops would not scar the hosts as Jan Oblak stood tall to save from Benzema twice in quick succession and then parried clear the same man's free-kick.

    But there was still time for Benzema to have the final say, granted an empty net when Casemiro squared in front of Oblak after Suarez had lost the ball up the field.

  • Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid: Benzema leaves it late but leaders still waiting for Derbi win Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid: Benzema leaves it late but leaders still waiting for Derbi win

    Karim Benzema's late equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for Real Madrid at rivals Atletico Madrid and extended their unbeaten run in El Derbi to 10 LaLiga matches.

    Atleti are the side in the ascendancy in Spain's top flight this season, but they have been second best in their own city in recent years and could not end a poor sequence in this fixture on Sunday.

    Luis Suarez's 10th league strike against Madrid had appeared enough for a precious victory, yet missed chances came back to bite Diego Simeone's men as the long-serving Atleti coach was denied a club-record 309th win in the job.

    Benzema, fit again to captain the side, marked his 371st LaLiga appearance – a record among Madrid's non-Spanish players – with an 88th-minute leveller to maintain the champions' interest in the title race.

    Madrid stay third, five points behind Atleti, but Barcelona – winners against Osasuna on Saturday – are now within three of the leaders, who have one win in five in all competitions.

  • Liverpool fire more Anfield blanks to set unwanted Premier League record Liverpool fire more Anfield blanks to set unwanted Premier League record

    Liverpool slumped to a sixth successive home defeat on Sunday as relegation-threatened Fulham claimed a 1-0 win.

    The worst part for Jurgen Klopp's beleaguered side was the fact that, from the moment Mario Lemina put the visitors ahead at half-time, the writing was on the wall to an extent.

    The Reds' slump includes January's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City, when Mohamed Salah scored from the penalty spot.

    That was the only defeat where they have found the net, with the losing run immediately preceded by a 0-0 draw against Manchester United.

    It means, following 16 attempts without reward against Fulham, Liverpool have racked up 115 shots since they last scored from open play at Anfield in a 1-1 draw against West Brom on December 27.

    That amounts to the longest run of open-play shots without scoring at home since Opta began collecting the exact times of shots.

    Portsmouth (114 in January 2008) and Manchester City (101 in August 2007) are the only other two clubs to have chalked up this unwanted century.

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