Napoli striker Victor Osimhen faces a race against time to play any part in the Champions League quarter-final against Milan after suffering an injury.

Osimhen played both games in the international break for Nigeria but has returned to the Italian club with a left thigh problem.

The club announced on their website he will be assessed next week, with president Aurelio De Laurentiis hopeful the star striker will soon be back in action.

De Laurentiis said, according to Tuttomercato: "He should be out a couple of weeks, we hope."

Napoli host Milan in Serie A on Sunday before travelling to face Lecce on the following Friday, with Osimhen likely to miss both fixtures.

The Champions League quarter-final first leg in Milan comes on April 12, with the return fixture taking place in Naples on April 18.

The 24-year-old Osimhen has enjoyed a prolific season, scoring 25 goals in 29 games in all competitions, with Luciano Spalletti’s 19 points clear of second-placed Lazio in Serie A and through to their first-ever Champions League quarter-final.

Argentine striker Giovanni Simeone will likely deputise in Osimhen’s absence, with the striker having netted eight times in all competitions this season.

Graham Potter confirmed that Chelsea and Bayern Munich are in talks over assistant coach Anthony Barry.

However, a potential switch from London to Munich might well be delayed until a potential Champions League meeting between the sides.

Thomas Tuchel, who was appointed as Bayern coach after the sacking of Julian Nagelsmann last week, worked with Barry during his time at Chelsea and is keen to get the 36-year-old on his staff.

Barry is away from the Chelsea training ground while negotiations take place but Potter hinted that any agreement may be delayed until after a potential semi-final Champions League clash.

"Obviously that delay is something I'm pretty sure is in the conversation for obvious reasons," Potter said at a press conference on Friday.

"I have spoken to Anthony, he's someone I respect a lot and he's given everything for Chelsea. I understand that people have aspirations and it's about respecting that.

"He's away from us for the moment. It's between the clubs, it's not something I get involved in.

"I have huge respect for what he's done, here. He's a fantastic coach and a fantastic person."

Chelsea face reigning champions Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, as they did last year, but could be tasked with a semi-final face-off with former boss Tuchel if Bayern beat Manchester City.

Speaking to reporters in Germany on Friday, Tuchel was positive about the move for Barry.

"It's a matter between the clubs. It's still my absolute wish for him to come. The clubs have to reach an agreement. But I'm optimistic," he said.

Andrew Robertson warned Liverpool team-mates they cannot afford to make any more mistakes if they are to meet their minimum expectation of Champions League qualification.

The Reds have endured a disappointing season, with Jurgen Klopp's efforts not helped by a string of significant injuries to key players.

Last season, Liverpool won an EFL Cup and FA Cup double, reached the Champions League final, and finished just one point behind Premier League winners Manchester City.

However, this term has seen them fail to defend either cup crown, they were eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage, and are facing an uphill battle to finish in the top four domestically.

Sixth-placed Liverpool are seven points behind Tottenham in fourth, and although the Reds have two games in hand on Spurs, so do Newcastle United, who only trail the north Londoners by a single point.

The underwhelming nature of Liverpool's campaign is not lost on Robertson, who thinks they are on their last life if they want to pip Spurs and Newcastle – they now face consecutive games against City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

"The motivations are the exact same," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to City. "We want Champions League football, and so the motivation is the exact same as though we were going for trophies.

"It is obviously a big week; we are playing against three big teams and it's going to be an intense week, but it's what you look forward to when you come to this club. These are the big games you want to be involved in.

"We don't want to be in this position, and…we don't really have time to waste, we don't have any mistakes left in us if we want to achieve top four."

He added: "[Expectations] have to be on the highest level when you play at this club – you don't get an option not to do that, the people around the club demand that. I think we do that, but we have just lacked a little bit of consistency this season.

"In the last five or six years, consistency is the one word that would be put next to our name, as we always showed up and even when not at our best, we still managed to grind out results. We haven’t done that this season, and we have to fix that."

Despite their issues this season, Robertson remains adamant Liverpool belong in the Champions League.

But he accepts the Reds cannot take qualification for granted.

"Going into April, not being in the Champions League, FA Cup or League Cup, and then not being in a title race is so disappointing – it's a position we don't want to be in.

"We are out of every competition, but we still believe we are a team that can compete in every competition.

"So to fix that, we have to be in these tournaments again next season, and the only way to do that is finishing in the top four.

"So we've got 12 games to fix it, and we are determined to put our all into those next 12 games."

UEFA has hit Eintracht Frankfurt and PSV with partial stadium closures after unsavoury scenes overshadowed European ties involving both clubs in February.

Both legs of Eintracht's 5-0 aggregate defeat to Napoli in the Champions League's last-16 were marred by violence, with clashes between supporters witnessed before the Partenopei's 2-0 away win on February 21.

Eintracht were subsequently charged with the lighting of fireworks and blocking of public passageways by UEFA, and the governing body has now fined the Bundesliga club a total of €70,000 and ordered them to close areas of Deutsche Bank Park for their next continental fixture.

The fear of further violence led Italian authorities to attempt to ban Eintracht supporters from travelling to Naples for the return fixture on March 15.

However, supporters clashed with local police after defying that measure, with footage on social media showing crowds throwing missiles at officers wielding riot shields.

Meanwhile, PSV have also been ordered to close sections of the Philips Stadion for their next UEFA game after a fan attacked Sevilla goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic during a Europa League match.

PSV suffered a 3-2 aggregate defeat in the competition's knockout round play-offs, with the tie overshadowed by a supporter entering the pitch and throwing a punch at Dmitrovic in February's second leg in Eindhoven.

The 20-year-old man was given a two-month prison stint on March 8, as well as being made subject to a 40-year ban from PSV's stadium.

PSV have been fined €29,375 after UEFA investigated the incident, with the club also being charged with the throwing of objects at the same match.

With the last international window of the season over, domestic club campaigns now enter the final straight.

Everything is still to be decided – technically speaking. Title races, European qualification, relegation – all will come to a head over the next two months.

Of course, there are a few outcomes that already look like foregone conclusions, but there's still much to play for in each of the top five leagues.

With club football returning over the next few days, Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team have crunched the numbers using their supercomputer to predict the outcome of each league.

How's the outlook for your team?

Premier League

England is the scene of potentially most compelling title race among the top five leagues this season.

Arsenal may have an eight-point lead at the summit, but Manchester City still have a game in hand. As such, the Gunners' chances of winning a first league title since 2004 are 56.2 per cent, perhaps smaller than many might have expected.

That comes down in part to the statistical value attached to City's historic results, particularly over the past few years during their Premier League domination, whereas Arsenal haven't come close to that level of success over the same period.

Therefore, the title race still looks tight.

A little further back, Manchester United (74.5 per cent) are near-certainties to finish third, while the race for fourth promises to be engrossing – Tottenham (19.3 per cent), Newcastle United (29.1 per cent) and Liverpool (24.5 per cent) look set to tussle it out, with Brighton and Hove Albion (10.7 per cent) considered rank outsiders.

At the bottom, Southampton's 41.6 per cent likelihood of finishing 20th suggests they've a huge battle on their hands, but the supercomputer reckons West Ham and Leicester City have enough to pull themselves clear of the drop zone.

The signs are that two of Bournemouth, Everton and Nottingham Forest will join Saints in the Championship.

 

Bundesliga

Germany's top flight may come to rival the Premier League's title race. Ahead of the weekend's Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, BVB are a point clear.

Yet, Dortmund's probability of finishing top is just 22.4 per cent compared to Bayern's 76.4. Again, it largely comes down to their historic results and Die Roten's dominance suggesting they'll eventually get the job done.

But it's fair to say Bayern's decision makers aren't so confident given their brutal choice to sack Julian Nagelsmann on Friday, replacing him with former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

Union Berlin aren't out of it given they are only five points behind Dortmund, though this is obviously uncharted territory for them, hence the 0.9 per cent chance of winning their first top-flight title since 1923.

Third looks the best bet for them (40.3 per cent), while RB Leipzig are the most likely to fill out the top four (37.2 per cent).

It's even tighter in the relegation scrap. Only seven points separate 18th from 13th, so even rock-bottom Stuttgart are given a reasonable chance of finishing 14th (10.6 per cent) or 15th (15.2 per cent).

 

LaLiga

Following Barcelona's dramatic 2-1 win in El Clasico before the international break, LaLiga looks done and dusted at the top with the Blaugrana 12 points clear.

The supercomputer also reckons Atletico Madrid are nearly guaranteed third (80.3 per cent), leaving what is effectively a two-horse race for fourth.

Real Sociedad have fourth at the moment and are 43.7 per cent likely to finish there, though Real Betis (36.7 per cent) aim to push them all the way.

At the other end, Elche are given no more than a 0.1 per cent chance of getting out of the bottom three after taking just 13 points from 26 games.

Otherwise, relegation is difficult to call. Almeria in 19th are only six points behind Real Mallorca in 11th, meaning there are a host of clubs who could yet get dragged into a fight for their lives.

There are two particularly big names among those potentially in trouble. Valencia are in the bottom three and have a 21.9 per cent chance of being relegated, while Sevilla – who are on their third coach of the season after sacking Jorge Sampaoli – are only two points clear of safety.

The computer says Man Utd's next Europa League opponents only have a 5.8 per cent probability of going down, however.

 

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain seemingly have little to worry about in Ligue 1, with the supercomputer calculating their title chances at 98 per cent.

The tiny hint of doubt gives Marseille (1.8 per cent) and Lens (0.2 per cent) a bit of hope – but even then, it's presumably nothing more than a pipe dream.

There is a similar degree of certainty at the bottom, where four teams will be relegated ahead of the league's size being reduced to 18 clubs next term.

Angers, with 10 points from 28 games, cannot get out of the bottom four according to the calculations, and the other three positions are currently taken up by Ajaccio, Troyes and Auxerre.

Brest and Strasbourg aren't out of the woods yet either, though the supercomputer believes those in the relegation zone are the ones most likely to drop into Ligue 2.

 

Serie A

If there's one league in Europe that's got a foregone conclusion at the top, it's Serie A.

Napoli have more than a 99.9 per cent chance of winning a first Scudetto since 1990, with the unrelenting Partenopei a whopping 19 points clear of second already.

The race for Champions League qualification promises to be a little more tense.

Eleven points is the gap between Lazio in second and Juventus in seventh. While the Bianconeri are very much outsiders, the other five teams have at least a 15 per cent chance of finishing in the top four.

Lazio, Inter and Milan appear to be the most likely to take those spots, though Roma and Atalanta will fancy their chances of putting a cat among the pigeons.

In the relegation fight, there's a rather clearer picture.

Cremonese and Sampdoria look doomed, while Hellas Verona in 18th are five points adrift of safety, giving them just an 18.8 per cent probability of avoiding relegation.

 

Kai Havertz hailed the impact Thomas Tuchel had on his career, with the new Bayern Munich boss having coached the Germany international at Chelsea.

Tuchel, who was announced as Bayern's coach following the shock sacking of Julian Nagelsmann last week, took charge of the Blues between January 2021 and September last year.

The German guided Chelsea to Champions League glory in 2021, with Havertz scoring the first-half winner in a 1-0 victory over fellow Premier League side Manchester City.

Speaking to The Guardian on Tuchel's influence, he said: "Tuchel gave me a different idea of football. 

"Every detail counts, every centimetre, how you touch the ball, how you control, where you pass, which foot, movement, creating spaces: he's just top level. 

"To come and win the Champions League in six months says it all.

"My brother and I used to watch every Champions League game and to hold the trophy with your family on the pitch was such a relief. 

"I scored this goal, I can be happy. I made my childhood dream come true."

Chelsea remain in this year's competition after overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Borussia Dortmund with a 2-0 home win at Stamford Bridge. 

Havertz scored the crucial second goal from the penalty spot and his side now face reigning champions Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.

"The ambition is still there," Havertz said about Chelsea's Champions League aspirations this campaign. 

"In the league, we are not very good and we feel for the fans but against Dortmund, the atmosphere was the best I have seen. You feel the excitement. 

"The Premier League is big and winning it may be even more difficult but the Champions League is different. Hearing that anthem, playing at night, it's special."

Despite progress in the Champions League, Tuchel's successor Graham Potter sees his side sit tenth in the Premier League and 11 points off a top-four position heading into the final stage of the season.

Regardless of the pressure on Potter and the new singings brought in as part of an ambitious January spending spree, Havertz believes all of them will thrive at the club given time to develop. 

"Potter is very good for Chelsea even though he gets criticism; in the changing room, everyone knows his qualities.

"Enzo [Fernandez] and [Mykhaylo] Mudryk have come for a lot of money and they're only 22, you know? You cannot expect them to be Neymar straight away. It's like me: it takes time."

Inter deserve more respect in the Champions League after progressing from a group containing Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Nerazzurri goalkeeper Andre Onana says.

Simone Inzaghi's side finished second in Group C in UEFA's top club competition, with a home win and an away draw against Xavi's Blaugrana proving crucial to their group-stage progression.

Inter then negotiated a tough last-16 task against Porto, winning 1-0 on aggregate in the two-legged affair, and face Benfica in the quarter-final.

The Nerazzurri could face either runaway Serie A leaders Napoli or Milan in the last four as Italian clubs dominate in Europe, and Onana believes his side should get more credit.

"We deserve more respect in Europe, given that we sent Barcelona to the Europa League and faced a complicated group," he told Mediaset on Tuesday.

"We have shown that we are a strong team. It doesn't matter what will happen in the next round, we will face Benfica to win. I want to win everything."

The Scudetto appears destined for Napoli, who are 19 points clear at the Serie A summit, but Inter are still fighting on two fronts for silverware.

Alongside their Champions League exploits, a Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus awaits, with the first leg coming in a week at Allianz Stadium.

Onana insists Inter can go all the way due to their preparations and performances under Inzaghi.

He added: "We must always play without fear. If there is fear, it's better not to take the field. A difficult month awaits us, but we prepare every day to play matches like those against Juventus and Benfica.

"I am convinced that if we work in the right way, it will be a month full of satisfaction."

Before the Coppa Italia clash with Juventus, Inter – who are third in Serie A – host Fiorentina in the league on Saturday.

A collective of Paris Saint-Germain 'ultras' made a fresh request on Saturday to meet with club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, while complaining about the "compulsive purchase of flashy names" and demanding a return of the team's famous Hechter shirt design.

In a press statement, the Collectif Ultras Paris complained the club have put marketing above sporting priorities, and warned the churn of personnel on and off the pitch was bringing the same results each season.

Some would argue PSG have never had it so good, with their success during the Qatar Sports Investments era – since 2011 – far exceeding anything previously achieved. They have won eight of the last 10 Ligue 1 titles, having only been champions twice before, while in 2020 they reached the Champions League final.

It is not winning over the ultras, however, with the club's most hardcore supporters insistent the club have underperformed.

An 11th Ligue 1 title this year would make PSG the most successful team in the competition's history, as they currently share the record of 10 with Saint-Etienne.

The ultras said in their statement: "Seasons pass and look the same. Players, coaches and sports directors follow one another and the same causes produce the same effects. Once again, our club has not lived up to its national and European objectives."

The group pointed to an early Coupe de France exit at the hands of fierce rivals Marseille, a "flat-lining" Champions League last-16 defeat to Bayern Munich, and a struggle to dominate in the domestic league.

PSG hold a seven-point lead over Marseille with 10 rounds of Ligue 1 games remaining.

The club have been able to attract major stars such as Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Marco Verratti, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the goal of becoming champions of Europe remaining frustratingly out of reach.

The ultras said: "However, we have decided to maintain our support in the stands for the time being, the players not intended to be the scapegoats of a poorly constructed squad, a sports policy without real direction, the compulsive purchase of flashy names without worrying about the balance of the team, and the policy of a club where marketing seems to have taken precedence over sport.

"We will therefore continue our support until the 11th title of champion of France, which is meant to be historic, is acquired to our club."

The group added: "We ask for the umpteenth time to meet quickly with president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to explain to him orally the many problems that we have identified in and around the club, sporting and non-sporting, for many years."

They want to raise a ticketing issue that the group says favours "tourists and other VIPs", and are up in arms about PSG abandoning the shirt style pioneered by fashion designer Daniel Hechter, who had a stint as club president in the 1970s.

That home shirt design featured a thick red strip, with thin white lines at either side, down the middle of a largely dark blue shirt.

This season it has been inverted, with a thick white strip and thin red lines, and the fans are revolting, also calling for PSG to stay at the Parc des Princes amid concerns about a possible move to the Stade de France.

"We want profound changes and guarantees concerning the permanent return of the Hechter jersey," the ultras said.

They added: "Our love of the club is limitless, not our patience."

Bayern Munich shocked the Bundesliga by making a dramatic change in the dugout, replacing Julian Nagelsmann with Thomas Tuchel.

The decision came with Borussia Dortmund posing a serious threat to Bayern's hopes of an 11th consecutive league title.

Tuchel arrives with Bayern sitting one point off the Bundesliga summit and through to the Champions League quarter-finals, with the former BVB and Chelsea boss facing several pressing tasks.

Fending off his former club's challenge for domestic glory and plotting a route past Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will be among the immediate concerns, but there are others requiring Tuchel's attention.

From the futures of club stalwarts Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller, to the need to suitably replace Robert Lewandowski, there will be plenty to keep Tuchel occupied until the end of the season and beyond.

Here, Stats Perform looks at five of the most pressing tasks facing Tuchel on his return to Germany.

Fix Bayern's sloppy backline

While Bayern boast the Bundesliga's best defensive record with 27 goals conceded this term, Tuchel – who was successful in making Chelsea tough to beat in his last managerial assignment – will be keen to examine a series of shortcomings at the back.

Having beaten Augsburg 5-3 in Nagelsmann's penultimate game at the helm, Bayern suffered a damaging 2-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen last time out, with Benjamin Pavard and Dayot Upamecano clumsily conceding a pair of second-half penalties.

With Nagelsmann known for employing a high defensive line and adopting an aggressive approach, Bayern have often appeared too open this campaign.

Of the Bundesliga-high 13 errors leading to shots made by Bayern players this season, three have resulted in goals, while last year's big-money recruit Matthijs de Ligt is yet to establish himself as a dominant defensive presence.

Tuchel's Chelsea kept five clean sheets in seven Champions League knockout games en route to being crowned European champions in 2021 – he will be confident of having a similar impact in his new job, given the defensive talent at his disposal.

 

Make crucial Neuer decision

The most controversial incident in Bayern's season before the change of coach came in January, when captain Neuer hit out at the club's decision to fire close friend and goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic.

Those comments were met with a furious reaction from the club's hierarchy, throwing Neuer's future in Munich into doubt.

A series of injuries – the latest a broken leg sustained during a skiing holiday – have limited Neuer to 16 appearances across all competitions this term, and with Yann Sommer's arrival giving Bayern two top-class goalkeepers to choose from, Tuchel has a decision to make.

While Neuer boasts a better save percentage (75.44 per cent) than Sommer (64.1) for Bayern this term, the 2014 World Cup winner will be 37 by the time he returns to fitness, and there may not be room for both shot-stoppers in Bayern's long-term plans.

Find Lewandowski's successor

No discussion of Bayern's inconsistent season would be complete without a mention of their failure to find an adequate replacement for goal machine Lewandowski.

Lewandowski left for Barcelona last year, having led the Bundesliga's scoring charts in six of his eight seasons with Bayern (2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21 and 2021–22).

The Poland international hit 35 goals in as many league appearances in his final season with the Bavarian giants. This term, Jamal Musiala is their top Bundesliga marksman with 11 goals, one ahead of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

While having five separate players on double figures across all competitions this term is no bad thing (Choupo-Moting, Musiala, Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane), an established successor to Lewandowski is surely required.

 

Solve the Mane conundrum

On a related note, getting the best of last year's marquee arrival Mane will also be high on Tuchel's to-do list, with the Senegal attacker yet to hit the heights he reached at Liverpool.

Injuries and mixed form have meant Mane has started just 14 of Bayern's 25 league games, failing to net in any competition since a 6-2 win over Mainz in October.

Tuchel's previous success with a fluid forward line could bode well for Mane. In his only full Premier League campaign with Chelsea, the Blues were only outscored by Manchester City and Liverpool, with a plethora of players chipping in as the returning Romelu Lukaku fell out of favour.

 

Examine Muller's role

While the acquisition of a centre-forward will surely be at the forefront of Bayern's plans at the end of the season, the Bavarians' chances of short-term success could hinge on finding a regular role for Muller.

Muller, who became Bayern's all-time leading outfield appearance maker in the Bundesliga last month, has started just 14 league games this campaign, but his tally of 11 goal contributions (four goals, seven assists) in just 1,062 minutes demonstrates his lasting quality.

With Nagelsmann alternating between 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 shapes in recent weeks, Muller has featured in a number 10 role – where he previously thrived under Hansi Flick – and in a front two.

With high-stakes clashes against Dortmund and City on the horizon, Tuchel's first month at the helm could prove decisive, and finding a place for the experienced Muller could help the new boss make a flying start.

 

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is confident coach Luciano Spalletti will remain with the Scudetto hopefuls beyond the expiration of his contract at the end of the season.

Napoli appear destined to win their first Serie A title since the Diego Maradona era this campaign, having built a huge 19-point lead over second-placed Lazio.

Having earned a club-record 71 points from their first 27 games of the Serie A season, Napoli will also face Milan in the club's first Champions League quarter-final appearance next month.

Napoli reportedly hold an option to trigger a 12-month extension to Spalletti's contract, with the 64-year-old having previously ruled out talks over fresh terms before the title is secured.

De Laurentiis is not worried about the prospect of Spalletti walking away, praising the coach's seismic impact upon the club as he recalled his 2021 appointment on Friday. 

Speaking at an event in Naples, De Laurentiis recalled: "To throw everyone off the track, I went for [Sergio] Conceicao and [Massimiliano] Allegri, who came to give me football lessons in my office four times.

"In the end, Luciano came to bring us back to the top three in Italy and also last year, something different could have happened. 

"If the rules of football were different, perhaps we would have brought the Scudetto to Naples a few other times already. Spalletti will stay in Naples."

Napoli host Milan in their next Serie A fixture on April 2, while the first leg of their Champions League last-eight tie with the Rossoneri will take place 10 days later at San Siro.

Simone Inzaghi has congratulated Milan and Napoli on joining Inter in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and says it is "a huge step" for Serie A.

Italy's top flight will have three representatives in the last eight of the competition for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

With Juventus and Roma also through in the Europa League and Fiorentina progressing in the Europa Conference League, six Italian clubs are through to the quarters of UEFA competitions for the third time ever after the 1998-99 and 1990-91 seasons.

Inzaghi, whose Inter side will face Benfica over two legs in the next round, believes it can only be a good thing for Italian football when their teams hold their own on the continent.

"We all played great games," he said at a press conference on Saturday. "I have to congratulate Milan and Napoli – they deserved it like us. So too did Roma, Juventus and Fiorentina.

"There are six teams through, which is a huge step. Now we must all continue, because the more we go on, the better it is for our country."

 

Two of Serie A's European representatives face off at San Siro on Sunday in a game that could potentially have huge repercussions in the top-four race.

Second-place Inter are 12 points better off than Juventus in seventh, but the Bianconeri are said to be optimistic about overturning a 15-point deduction imposed on them in January.

That could change the complexion of the higher echelons of Serie A, and Inzaghi hopes a decision is soon made by the authorities one way or another.

"I look at the standings, but we are aware there are legal proceedings ongoing," Inzaghi said. "I hope that we find out soon because the teams need clarity."

Inter have lost three of their past six Serie A matches after their Champions League games, including their last two against Bologna and Juventus in the reverse match.

Juventus, by comparison, have won each of their last six league games after European matches.

"We are thinking only of tomorrow's game," Inzaghi said. "Now that we have obtained qualification, we have this final game of an intense period.

"The players are feeling fatigued and we have injuries, but we intend to not look back and think only of the next game."

Inter lost the reverse fixture against Juve 2-0 and are aiming to avoid losing both games against their Derby d'Italia rivals for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in contention to start for Milan against Udinese on Saturday as the 41-year-old looks to lift Stefano Pioli's' struggling champions.

The striker, recalled by Sweden this week, has recovered from major knee surgery and come through three substitute appearances.

Now the veteran is a prime contender to line up from the first whistle as Milan are forced to cope without the suspended Olivier Giroud in their last game before the international break.

Ibrahimovic is already the oldest player to feature for Milan in a Serie A game during the three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95), and Pioli would have no doubts about his readiness.

"Zlatan is calm; he wants to play and win every game," Pioli said on Friday. "He's feeling good, but I don't think he's got 90 minutes in him. He could start, as could Divock [Origi] and Ante [Rebic]."

Ibrahimovic has been involved in five goals in his last four games against Udinese in Serie A (3 goals, 2 assists) and is looking to start a game in Serie A for the first time since January 23, 2022, when he faced Juventus.

Winger Rafael Leao should keep his place despite what Pioli described as a "strange situation" on Monday, when the Portugal international put in a flat performance in the 1-1 draw with Salernitana, a result that followed defeat to Fiorentina in Milan's previous league game.

Coach Pioli is surprised by how little impact Leao is having at times, but he expects him to come good.

"Rafa is training really well. He's very motivated and determined, and he remains an important figure in our attack because, even if he's not scoring, he keeps opposition defences occupied," Pioli said.

"My advice to him would be to stay close to those who care deeply for him and want to help him grow. Goals and decisive pieces of play are expected from him, but, as previously mentioned, he's dangerous even when he doesn't score."

Ibrahimovic was left off Milan's Champions League squad list, so Pioli must plan without him for the quarter-final against runaway Serie A leaders Napoli.

That was the match-up that came out of Friday's draw, and it is not one that intimidates the Rossoneri, who have won Europe's premier club competition seven times.

Quoted on Milan's official website, Pioli said: "Napoli are enjoying a great league campaign, but the Champions League is the Champions League and AC Milan are AC Milan. It's exciting and fascinating and our opponents are very strong, but we're deservedly part of it and have plenty of motivation and ambition.

"We'll play with the aim of making it through. We'll have time to talk about the Champions League, which is certainly an objective of ours, but, right now, doing well in our next three league games is crucial."

Milan sit fourth in Serie A, a point ahead of Roma who have a derby against third-placed Lazio coming up on Sunday.

Dropping points to mid-table Udinese would be a jarring way to enter the international break for the San Siro giants.

"It's not the break itself that will be important but how we head into it," said Pioli, "meaning tomorrow's result will be vital."

Julian Nagelsmann is excited by the opportunity to face Manchester City and Erling Haaland in the Champions League, believing the Norwegian striker could be an even tougher opponent than Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich eliminated Mbappe and Lionel Messi from the tournament when they beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, and were drawn to face City in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Should they progress again, Bayern will then go up against holders Real Madrid or Chelsea in the semi-finals, having already faced Inter, Barcelona and PSG in this season's Champions League.

"I think it's a very good draw, a difficult draw but I think if you win the title at the end then you would not like to hear that we were lucky with our draws," Nagelsmann said at a press conference ahead of Bayern's Bundesliga clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

"We want to win it and do it by beating big teams. We've had PSG, we had Inter and Barcelona in the group stage, so now City and then Real Madrid or Chelsea, then probably an Italian opponent in the final, it would be a triumph that would certainly send a big message to everyone.

"It's going to be difficult, we know that... we will prepare well and I think everyone is looking forward to it."

Bayern will need to handle former Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland better than RB Leipzig, who conceded five to him in the last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

"He's a tremendous player, he has great abilities... he's probably a little more physical than Mbappe and certainly comparable in pace," Nagelsmann said. "He has great heart, when he runs it's difficult to defend against him, but we also have a couple of strong offensive players."

The 35-year-old is also an admirer of City boss and former Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola, but said he does not model his ideas on the Spaniard, or indeed, any other coach.

"I saw a lot of games when he was at Barcelona, also at Bayern and City," Nagelsmann said. "I never really copied any things from him, I've never really analysed or copied anything from any other coach.

"Pep's teams are always nice to watch, he always has a nice idea to play football. [City] have a very balanced team."

It's fair to say Serie A sides have enjoyed themselves on the continental stage this season, with six Italian clubs reaching major European quarter-finals for the first time this century.

Three of those teams have been making waves in the Champions League, for which Luciano Spalletti's Napoli have been touted as genuine contenders after outscoring every other team in the competition.

Meanwhile, rivals Milan and Inter went about their last-16 assignments in quietly impressive fashion, seeing off Tottenham and Porto respectively, both winning 1-0 on aggregate.

With three of Italy's finest reaching the last eight, a first all-Italian Champions League meeting since 2005 was always highly probable, and so it proved with Milan and Napoli paired together.

With the winner of that tie set to face either Inter or Benfica in the semi-finals, the prospect of a first Italian Champions League winner since Inter's class of 2009-10 has perhaps never appeared more realistic.

Ahead of a blockbuster tie between last season's Serie A winners and their likely successors, Stats Perform looks back at the Champions League's previous all-Italian tussles.

Shevchenko decisive in tight derby double-header

Given the remarkable European pedigree enjoyed by seven-time European Cup/Champions League winners Milan, the fact that the Rossoneri have featured in all five previous all-Italian games in the competition is perhaps unsurprising. 

The first two of those came at the semi-final stage in the 2002-03 campaign, when Milan and Inter faced off in a tense double-header ultimately decided by a Rossoneri great.

Milan had reached the last four courtesy of Jon Dahl Tomasson's last-gasp strike against Ajax, while the Nerazzurri edged out Valencia on away goals.

Hector Cuper's men had less luck with that rule against their rivals, with Andriy Shevchenko's 'away' goal deciding a tie which ended 1-1 on aggregate – despite, of course, both legs being held at San Siro.

Inter's Obafemi Martins set up a tense finish after coming on as a substitute, but Carlo Ancelotti's team held on to reach a first final since 1995 – where they would face another domestic rival.

Dida wins battle of the goalkeepers at Old Trafford

Italian football's reputation for being risk-averse has not always been warranted, but given the way 2003's Champions League final between Milan and Juventus played out, that tag is perhaps understandable. 

Juve had already edged out both Milan giants to win Serie A by the time they faced the Rossoneri at Old Trafford, for what represented Marcello Lippi's fourth Champions League final with the Bianconeri (winning in 1996, losing in 1997, 1998 and 2003).

Both defences were on top throughout a nail-biting affair, with Shevchenko seeing a goal ruled out for offside and Antonio Conte rattling the crossbar as the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

With both goalkeepers clearly advancing off the goal line for each spot-kick, Gianluigi Buffon saved from Clarence Seedorf and Kakha Kaladze – only for Dida to go one better by denying David Trezeguet, Marcelo Zalayeta and Paolo Montero as Milan won their sixth European crown.

 

Dida in the spotlight again as violent scenes mar San Siro clash

Dida was again in the spotlight when two Italian sides last squared off in the Champions League – this time for all the wrong reasons.

The 2004-05 quarter-finals featured another heavyweight derby clash between Milan and Inter – who, as was the case two years earlier – finished the Serie A season in second and third respectively as Juventus triumphed.

Milan have always been Italy's European kings, however, and goals from Jaap Stam and Shevchenko put them in the ascendency as Ancelotti's men won the 'home' leg 2-0.

When Shevchenko's first-half effort put the Rossoneri ahead in the return game and Inter – now requiring four goals – saw an Esteban Cambiasso strike ruled out for a foul, the Nerazzurri supporters reacted furiously.

Flares rained down from the stands onto the San Siro pitch, with Dida struck on the shoulder and left requiring treatment for a burn.

Referee Markus Merk attempted to restart the game after a lengthy delay, but when Christian Abbiati was targeted with further missiles, the game was abandoned and Milan were awarded a 3-0 win, making it 5-0 on aggregate and leading to condemnation from across the continent. 

From a Milan point of view, the less said about their subsequent trip to Istanbul for the 2005 final against Liverpool, the better.

Graham Potter acknowledged Chelsea's turnaround in form has involved an element of luck, though he also praised the "fight" of his players as he bids to continue the team's recent revival.

The Blues have won their last three games across all competitions, having previously struggled to string together a run of results since the mid-season restart.

Progress to the Champions League quarter-finals – where they have been rewarded with a tie against holders Real Madrid – has helped to ease the immediate pressure on Potter.

But ahead of Chelsea's final game before the March international break, a clash against Everton at home in the Premier League, Potter acknowledged his side had still needed the wind to blow their way in recent weeks.

"You need luck," he said after the wins over Leeds United, Borussia Dortmund and Leicester City.

"As much as you can be good, it is important to be lucky.

"But you can't wait for that to come around and sometimes you have to fight through the storm.

"We've come out of it with three wins, but we need to carry that form on. Now there are three points up for grabs against a tough team."

Pressed on drawing Real Madrid in the Champions League, a few days after he outlined his desire to lead the Blues to success in the competition, Potter insisted his focus was the Everton fixture on Saturday.

But on the subject of ex-Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is chasing back-to-back triumphs with the Spanish side in Europe, he was unequivocal in his praise.

"I've played against him when he was at Everton," he added. "He is a gentleman and there's nothing I can say in terms of the respect I have for what he's achieved in his career.

"I think the length of time he's had between Champions League wins – twenty years – is incredible.

"[But] where we are now is to focus on Everton. They play to their strengths and that is what we must focus on."

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