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Champions League: Huge task ahead for free-scoring FC Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund

Both FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund are aiming to pull off unlikely comebacks in quarterfinal second legs on Wednesday on what promises to be another night of high drama. Barcelona play Juventus at home down 0-3, while Dortmund play AS Monaco away, trailing by a single goal (2-3)

football Updated: Apr 19, 2017 15:21 IST
UEFA CHampions League,FC Barcelona,Juventus
The mood was lighthearted during the Juventus training session on Wednesday with Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain and fellow players having some fun on the pitch. The Italian giants have a 3-0 advantage going into their quarterfinal second-leg match against FC Barcelona and are confident of keeping the Catalans at bay.(AP)

FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund are among the top scorers in the UEFA Champions League this season and will need their sharp-shooters at their deadliest to stay in the hunt for Europe’s biggest prize.

Both sides are aiming to pull off unlikely comebacks in quarterfinal second legs on Wednesday on what promises to be another night of high drama.

Holders Real Madrid C.F. and last year’s beaten finalists -- and city rivals -- Atletico Madrid are already in the hat for Friday’s semifinal draw.

Read more | Real Madrid are a team of rats, says Faustino Asprilla

Led by Lionel Messi and Neymar, Barca made history in the previous round, becoming the first side to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit to progress.

And how: three goals in the closing minutes at the Camp Nou propelled them to a stunning 6-1 thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain and a quarter-final berth.

But any hopes they had learnt their lesson disappeared in last week’s first leg in Turin where Juventus ran out deserved 3-0 winners and Messi was largely anonymous.

Read more | FC Bayern Munich fume over Champions League ‘robbery’ by Real Madrid C.F.

It might seem a tall order to pull off another stirring comeback -- even for Barcelona -- but the Spanish champions have scored a minimum of four goals in every home match in this season’s competition and they haven’t been playing Champions League novices.

Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach shipped four each, PSG leaked six and Celtic’s goal was breached seven times.

Barca coach Luis Enrique maintains belief in his “group of winners and champions capable of anything”.

“In the previous tie we were able to overcome an even more difficult result,” he said.

Read more | Cristiano Ronaldo urges Real Madrid fans: Stop whistling me!

But Juve might be a different proposition altogether, having conceded only two goals in eight games in Europe.

And if anyone knows how to defend a lead away from home, it’s an Italian team.

Modest Malaga have cracked the code to stopping Barca’s much-vaunted attacking triumvirate of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

This month they beat Barcelona 2-0 having held them to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou in November -- Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri will surely have studied those matches.

Dortmund meanwhile trail only by a single goal to Monaco but they will have to launch a comeback away from home and with the trauma of last week’s attack on their team bus still fresh in the memory.

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A subdued Dortmund lost 3-2 at home to the French Ligue 1 leaders -- clearly affected by the triple bomb blast the day before that forced a 24-hour postponement of the game and left Spanish defender Marc Bartra in hospital with a broken wrist.

The task facing Borussia is perhaps more about managing their emotions than simply trying to overcome free-scoring opponents who were the second side in Europe to reach 100 goals in all competitions this season -- beaten only by Barca by a few minutes.

Following Saturday’s 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel praised his side’s “incredible character” but admitted his players are still “learning to deal with the fluctuating emotions”.

First Published: Apr 19, 2017 13:15 IST