A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
Manchester City, the form team in Europe, resumes its latest bid to win the Champions League for the first time with a first-leg match against Borussia Monchengladbach in the last 16. City has won its last 18 matches in all competitions and is facing a team which hasn’t reached the knockout stage of Europe’s top competition since getting to the European Cup semifinals in 1978. City, though, has yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals since Pep Guardiola joined in 2016. Real Madrid traveled to Bergamo with a squad decimated by injuries. Forward Karim Benzema did not recover in time and remained in Spain, along with captain Sergio Ramos and a number of other players. Madrid will still be the outstanding favorite as the 13-time European champion visits Atalanta, which is making only its second appearance in the competition. Atalanta will have poignant memories of the same stage last season. The Champions League outsider beat Valencia 4-1 in the first leg but the joy was shortlived as, days later, Bergamo became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The match was dubbed “Game Zero” by media.
Tottenham looks certain to become the first team to qualify for the last 16 as the English club takes a 4-1 lead into the second leg of its match with Austrian opponent Wolfsberg. Such a commanding first-leg advantage should allow Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho the opportunity to rest key players like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for the Premier League, where Spurs are in a free fall after losing five of their last six games.
Barcelona hosts Elche in a match postponed from the first round of the Spanish league because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Catalan club was given extra time to rest after it played in the Champions League later into last season. A win will move Barcelona back into third place in the standings. It would stay two points behind second-place Real Madrid and five points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which will have a game in hand. Barcelona is coming off a 1-1 home draw against struggling Cádiz and a 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Elche, sitting 18th in the 20-team standings, defeated Eibar in the previous round to end a 16-game winless streak in the league.
Two teams fighting against relegation meet in Ligue 1 when Nimes hosts Lorient. Second-to-last Nimes can climb out of the relegation zone — and drop third-to-last Lorient into it — with a win.
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