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We're in for another great week of Champions League, Premier League and Serie A action this week, and in many senses, it could provide some historical landmarks.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both perilously close to being bounced out of the Champions League as a new generation is emerging to finally take their place atop the world football landscape. Gareth Bale returns for another edition of the North London derby in the Premier League, while Milan desperately tries to climb back atop Serie A as Napoli looks to play spoiler.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Juventus vs. Porto (Porto leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Tuesday March 9 at 3:00 p.m. ET | Live stream
Cristiano Ronaldo remains as prolific as ever, averaging nearly a goal per game across all competitions for Juventus, but unfortunately, the rest of his teammates haven't provided him with a ton of support. Unless Ronaldo gets better service, or puts the team on his back, which he is indeed more than capable of, Juventus faces the stunning prospect of exiting during the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year.
Porto might be holding on for dear life in this contest and will be looking to counter attack during their few opportunities. After escaping with a win in the first leg despite possessing the ball 34 percent of the game, Porto will need to be disciplined throughout the game, and Mehdi Taremi clinical in front of the net, if the club is retain improbable hopes of lifting the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2004.
PSG vs. Barcelona (PSG leads 4-1 on aggregate)
Wednesday March 10 at 3:00 p.m. ET | Live stream
Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick in the first leg against Barcelona felt like a coronation for the 22-year-old phenom. Mbappe has rightfully been considered the best player of his generation for years, but there was always a roadblock to becoming the world's best player. It's almost poetic that Mbappe, entering the peak of his powers, gets to usurp Messi in the process, as PSG took advantage of some shambolic defending by Barcelona.
Barring a drastic comeback — and we've seen that happen before in this tie — this is the end of Barcelona as we know it. Perhaps this was true last year after Bayern Munich humiliated them, but Messi's tenure with the club appears to be reaching its closing chapter. It's been an embarrassing year for the club anyways, with former club president — and Messi's nemesis — Josep Mario Barotomeu arrested at the Nou Camp and released following an investigation into corruption. Mbappe and PSG cruising past Barcelona again would be a fitting end to the current iteration of a team that has so often dominated in this competition.
Mbappe is on track to become the world's best player and his extraordinary pace and finishing ability will threaten Barcelona's anemic backline at every opportunity. Unless, of course, PSG capitulates and Barcelona pulls off the nearly impossible. What a story that would be.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham
Sunday March 14, 12:30 PM ET | Live stream
Gareth Bale makes his return to the North London derby after the Welshman sat on the bench during Tottenham's Dec. 6 win against Arsenal. After a slow start back in the capital, Bale is rounding back into world-class form and the one-year loan from Real Madrid has done wonders for his confidence. Both Tottenham and Arsenal have fallen out of contention in the Premier League, clinging on to the battle for European competition next year, which could make this as contentious a game we've seen from these arch-rivals in recent memory.
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday March 14 at 3:45 PM ET | Live stream
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's commentary towards LeBron James is grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reasons. On the field, however, Ibra has been prolific, and has been the primary reason why Milan is still in the race for the Serie A title, trailing Inter, who are doing their damnedest to separate from the pack. The red half of the city will be hoping Zlatan recovers from the thigh muscle injury the 39-year-old suffered against Roma.
Napoli has more than enough firepower to knock off Milan and it'll be compelling to see if the club deploys either Hirving Lozano or Dries Mertens as a lone striker, and how aggressively they push captain Lorenzo Insigne up the field. The club rarely defers from their lone striker format, but we're expecting a ton of goals in this one.