World club champions and holders Chelsea return to Champions League action this week as the race for this season’s quarter-finals continues.
Tomas Tuchel’s men are in last-16 action, as are Premier League rivals Manchester United, with the Blues hosting their first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, while the Red Devils head for Spain 24 hours later.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at their opponents and what may lie ahead.
French champions Lille will head for west London hoping history does not repeat itself. The sides last met in the group stage of the competition during the 2019-20 campaign with the English club winning 2-1 home and away. Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side – the former midfielder replaced title-winning boss Christophe Galtier last summer – have made it to the knockout stage for just the second time and the first since 2006-07, when they lost 2-0 on aggregate to Manchester United. They currently lie in 11th place in Ligue 1, 23 points adrift of leaders Paris St Germain, but emerged from Group G as winners on the back of three successive victories having taken only two points from their first three fixtures. They include former Southampton and West Ham defender Jose Fonte and the much-travelled Hatem Ben Arfa, who joined the club as a free agent in January, among their ranks.
Having led Atletico to LaLiga glory for the second time last season, Diego Simeone has endured a frustrating campaign to date. Simeone’s men currently lie in fifth place in Spain, 15 points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table – they have lost seven league games to date this season, three more than in the whole of the last campaign – and had their domestic cup hopes shattered by Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup exits inside a week last month. They emerged from Group B as runners-up behind Liverpool despite losing 3-2 at home to the Reds and 2-0 at Anfield, and went out of the competition at this stage last season to eventual winners Chelsea following a 1-0 defeat at the Metropolitano and a 2-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge. However, they did beat United over two legs the last time the clubs met, in the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991-92. Evergreen striker Luis Suarez will hope to renew his rivalry with the men from Old Trafford, but Antoine Griezmann is yet to figure since his return from a thigh injury.
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