Champions League quarterfinals Preview: Atalanta in action, Barcelona vs Bayern

From debut appearances in the knock-out phase of the Champions League to a clash of former champions, here's a look at the quarterfinal match-ups.

The knock-out phase of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League starts in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday with Atalanta taking on PSG.   -  AP Photo

The UEFA Champions League action returns with a revamped knock-out phase in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday. Owing to the four-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the quarterfinals have been reduced to single-leg matches, rather than the usual two-legged ties.

Here's a look at the match-ups and how the teams shape up against each other.

Atalanta vs Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)

Free-scoring Atalanta will take on French giant Paris Saint-Germain in the first quarterfinal. On paper, PSG looks stronger. However, the Ligue 1 side is yet to prove its mettle in the business end of the tournament as it has not been beyond the quarterfinals stage for about a decade now.

Thomas Tuchel's PSG defeated Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, marking its first win in the knock-out stages after four years. Unfortunately for the Ligue 1 champion, major names are expected to miss out. While Marco Verratti is injured and Kylian Mbappe is doubtful due to an ankle problem, midfielder Angel Di Maria remains suspended.

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This will result in added responsibility for Neymar, who will lead his team's charge against Serie A's Atalanta. The Bergamo side, which finished third in the league for the second consecutive time, has managed to reach the knock-out stage in its debut Champions League campaign.

Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta, which scored a staggering 98 goals in 38 league matches, will rely heavily on the exploits of Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel. Josip Ilicic, who scored all four goals when Atalanta won 4-3 in March to eliminate Valencia 8-4 on aggregate, will be missing in action as he has travelled back to Slovenia due to personal reasons.

RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

La Liga giant Atletico Madrid defeated reigning champion Liverpool in March to reach the quarterfinals. The 2014 and 2016 runner-up's preparations for the important tie suffered a huge blow when two of its players, Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko, tested positive for COVID-19.

Initially, the team's travel plans were also put on hold but after satisfactory results in the subsequent rounds of testing, the side was cleared to travel.

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Diego Simeone's Atletico has been in supreme form since the restart. Often criticised for its inconsistency in the league, the side goes into this match on an unbeaten streak of 18 matches.

Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, making its maiden appearance in the Champions League knock-out phase, will take the field without its top scorer Timo Werner as the striker joined Chelsea after the culmination of the Bundesliga season. Julian Nagelsmann's side cruised past 2019 runner-up Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round but has a huge task of filling Werner's void at hand.

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich

The third quarterfinal will see two former champions square off against each other. Last time Bayern Munich and Barcelona met in the semifinals of the 2015 edition, the Spanish superpower emerged victorious. However, a repeat of the outcome seems unlikely considering the form Bayern is in.

The Bundesliga champion thumped former Champions League champion Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate in the previous round. The side has won all of its last 18 games, including a German league and cup double.

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In Robert Lewandowski, Hansi Flick's side possesses Europe's most fearsome striker. The Polish striker has scored 53 goals this season, including 13 in the Champions League, more than anyone else.

Barcelona, of course, has Lionel Messi, whose own tally of 31 goals is mighty impressive.

Spanish superpower defeated Napoli in the previous round. However, the pressure is on manager Quique Setien and Barcelona, who head into the contest after a derailed La Liga campaign.

Manchester City vs Lyon

Manchester City will be high on confidence after defeating Real Madrid in the previous round. Pep Guardiola's City is eager to end a near decade-long wait for another Champions League title, with its best performance being a run to the semifinals in 2016.

City will be up against Lyon, which toppled Serie A champion Juventus in the previous round. The Ligue 1 side would aim a repeat of last year's performance when it took four points off City in last season's group stage.

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Striker Sergio Aguero is unlikely to play again this term due to a knee injury and the onus will be on Gabriel Jesus, who has scored five times in his past seven games.

Lyon had a disappointing domestic season as it finished seventh and will pin its hopes of returning to Europe next season by winning the Champions League. However, the long break seems to have helped its cause as the side's key man Memphis Depay was able to recover from a serious knee injury in time. It was his penalty that helped Lyon eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. on away goals.

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