Champions League quarter-final first-legs – Wednesday

The second set of Champions League quarter-finals kick-off on Wednesday with the big one taking place as Liverpool host competition favourites Manchester City in their first leg.

There are few more special places than Anfield on a European midweek evening, and once again it hosts what looks like could be a memorable clash.

Liverpool are one of the only sides to have been able to go toe-to-toe with City this season when they beat them at Anfield in a 4-3 classic, and many are anticipating a wide open clash.

And Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp has not hidden the fact that they will be going for City from the off, saying: “You have to be courageous, take the initiative, do your thing and, whenever they have the ball, be very compact and very quick. So from a football perspective, this is definitely a very interesting clash.

“We have a lot of things Man City don’t like. That’s the reality.

“The way we attack the opponent, the way we defend high is unpleasant. If we do that well they will have some difficulty coping with it.”

City chief Pep Guardiola is anticipating a tough night, and has highlighted their front-three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane as the danger.

“It’s not just Salah,” said Guardiola. “Mane and Firmino, all three, they are almost unstoppable. They’re fantastic.

“The way Liverpool play is so complicated for us. We know that. They are so quick, they are so good and it is tough.

“But it is the quarter-finals of the Champions League so we cannot expect, at that level, that something is going to be easy.”

The other clash sees Roma travel to Barcelona for what looks a very difficult challenge for the Italian outfit, but their boss Eusebio di Francesco is looking forward to the challenge.

“We know we’ll be up against one of the best teams in the world with the best player in the world, Messi.

“We’ll approach the tie with a positive mindset. We knew we’d have to face a tough side in the quarter-finals. It’s a tie both teams are looking forward to and we’ll go into it with our feet on the ground.”

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde is not under-estimating the threat presented by Roma.

“Roma are a dangerous side for several reasons, just look at how they played Chelsea – for us they are a very complicated opponent, they have real credentials and we know the potential they have,” he warned.

See below for a run-down on the games, including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray, our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and John Hills of Coral.

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First leg
Liverpool 19:45 Manchester City


TEAM NEWS: Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana, Ragnar Klavan and Ben Woodburn are all missing for Liverpool, whilst Emre Can is a doubt with a back problem. For Man City, Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero miss out, whilst John Stones is a doubt with concussion.
These two teams have never met in UEFA competition
MATCH ODDS: Liverpool 9/5 Draw 13/5 Man City 27/20
GRAEME SAYS: Close one, these two will be going toe-to-toe and I would just come down with Man City…2-1
ANDY SAYS: This is going to be a great game, but I think Liverpool just have the edge here…2-1
CORAL PICK: Over 3.5 goals @6/4
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Mo Salah, who else would you want to land

First leg
Barcelona 19:45 Roma
Nou Camp

TEAM NEWS: Barcelona have a near fully fit squad, with Sergio Busquets their only doubt. Roma are without Rick Karsdorp and Cengiz Under, but they are hoping both Radji Nainggolan and Lorenzo Pellegrini will make the game.
KEY FACT: Lionel Messi has 12 goals in 19 games against Italian clubs 
MATCH ODDS: Barcelona 2/9 Draw 11/2 Roma 14/1
GRAEME SAYS: Barcelona will get the win here, little doubt about it…3-0
ANDY SAYS: Have to go with Barcelona, they will have far too much…3-1
CORAL PICK: Barcelona to win @13/2 
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Pretty simple, but Lionel Messi does still have some value

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