Lights, camera, Champions League

 Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp will come up against his old Bundesliga nemesis, Bayern München, this week Picture: ADAM DAVY / PA IMAGES
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp will come up against his old Bundesliga nemesis, Bayern München, this week Picture: ADAM DAVY / PA IMAGES

It’s 9.45pm and it’s raining outside, you have your spot set up with snacks and beverages within arm’s reach, your phone is in your lap and you have successfully negotiated the remote – you might even have sold your soul during those negotiations.

And then load shedding happens. Cue expletives.

Watching the Uefa Champions League in South Africa carries the added emotion and stress of not knowing how many minutes, if any, of a given game you will be able to watch.

On a side note, maybe that green beverage brand that sponsors the league can create a new load shedding ad.

Instead of “It’s when nothing happens that everything happens”, it could be “When nothing happens, load shedding is probably happening”.

Back to the football. This week sees match day seven continue with four more scintillating games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The game of the week, at least on paper, will see Bayern München travel to Anfield and confront Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Between them, the clubs have 10 European titles and a plethora of domestic honours, yet neither team has been entirely convincing throughout this season.

Liverpool started the season in electric form in their domestic league, but away from home in the Champions League lost all three of their games.

Winning all their home games, especially the hard-fought one-goal victory against Napoli in their final group game, ensured they scraped through on goal difference.

In contrast, Bayern have looked sluggish in their domestic league, sitting second, but in the Champions League, they are undefeated this season.

Finishing top of their group after a phenomenal away final game against Ajax Amsterdam has surely given Niko Kovac’s side the confidence to travel and win.

However, Kovac has some suspension and injury worries to deal with that could dampen the mood, unless they take a page out of the book of Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Manchester United away from home without their top four players, who were out injured.

Thomas Müller is serving a two-game suspension, while Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches are all ifs, maybes or not-at-alls.

Considering they are still alive in three competitions this season, we might not see a truly full-strength Bavarian team until next month. At least they will have the services of the League’s top goal scorer, Robert Lewandowski.

With no major injuries or suspensions, and no game this weekend after they were unceremoniously kicked out of the FA Cup, Liverpool should have a full-strength side physically and mentally – but history has proven otherwise.

It’s that time of the season when the Reds need to throw the kitchen sink and the dishes at every single game they play.

On the same evening, Barcelona take on Olympique Lyon in France, whom the Spanish giants have not so far lost against.

This is the first time Lyon have managed to progress to the round of 16 in seven seasons, while Barcelona have only lost twice at this juncture.

History aside, this is the only tie in the round that features two undefeated sides this season, despite Lyon winning only one game and conceding 11 goals.

The Catalan side should be favourites to win, even away from home, but given their fragile nature in their past few games – winning two out of six – they will need to up the ante to keep their unblemished record.

Lyon, for their part, have only lost one out of the past six games, including a 2-1 win trouncing log leaders PSG.

The Kids, as they are known, will look to run amok and create a messy situation in their hometown.

On Wednesday, the Citizens of Manchester travel to play against Schalke, who sit among the relegation zone teams in their domestic league.

Notwithstanding their league position, their cup competition hopes are all still alive after losing to Porto only this season. A few injuries in the squad have also not helped the team’s chances.

However, the signing of 18-year-old Rabbi Matondo in the winter from – you guessed it, City – might provide the impetus for a victory, especially considering the magnificent form of the other teenagers in this year’s competition.

No pressure, young man.

After a disappointing December period, Manchester City have only lost one game and drawn none since the beginning of the year.

They are firmly back in Premier League title contention and have progressed to the league cup final, which they play after the Schalke game.

It’s been a dominating run of results and, with most of the squad fully fit, barring Benjamin Mendy and Vincent Kompany, the baby blue machine looks like the favourite, unless they hit the dreaded fatigue level.

But history is not in their favour as they have lost three of their past five appearances at this stage.

Atlético Madrid are unbeaten in 12 home Champions League knockout matches and will welcome Juventus to the Wanda Metropolitano, which is the venue for this year’s league final.

Atléti and Juve have both reached the final twice in the past five seasons, but both teams lost to Spanish opposition.

No guesses as to who those teams were. Los Rojiblancos have suffered a mini dip in form, losing their last two La Liga games, while the Old Lady are still undefeated in Serie A.

Koke, who scored two goals in this Champions League campaign, is still not fit for action, but Diego Costa is eyeing a welcome return after his long layoff.

With winter signing and former Juventus striker Álvaro Morata available for selection, Diego Simeone has enough depth upfront to find a partner for Antoine Griezmann.

But with Lucas Hernández and Stefan Savic out, the back line will be fragile against an attacking Italian powerhouse.

Juventus have had no problems upfront and with the poster boy for the league, Cristiano Ronaldo, firing goals at will, it would be a surprise if there were no goals from the Bianconeri, considering Ronaldo has scored against Atléti 22 times in 29 games.

However, his ill discipline, notching up 11 yellow cards against them, could be a problem.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been a bit lacklustre in the group stages, but in their 10th round of 16 tie, the records seem to be in their favour.

One thing is for sure – with 336 LED floodlights able to display more than 16 million colours at the Wanda Metropolitano, the world will be grateful that Eskom is not the official electricity distributor to the Champions League.

All the fixtures:


Lyon vs Barcelona

Liverpool vs Bayern


Atlético Madrid vs Juventus

Schalke vs Manchester City

All matches kick off at 10pm SA time. All stats were correct as of Thursday

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