Big Match Feature: Real v PSG

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Two of Europe’s big guns come face to face at the Santiago Bernabéu in the round of 16 as Real Madrid CF’s bid to win three Uefa Champions League titles in a row comes under threat from Paris Saint-Germain. Predict the game NowMadrid finished second to Tottenham Hotspur FC in Group H – the second year running they have been runners-up in their section – while Paris won their first five Group B games to top the standings ahead of FC Bayern München.

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Chelsea target top-four finish – Hazard

Chelsea must strive to finish in the Premier League’s top four and secure Champions League football for next season, playmaker Eden Hazard has said as the London outfit got back to winning ways with a 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.

The champions have failed to replicate last season’s dominance, winning just three of their last 11 matches across all competitions to sit fourth in the league, 19 points behind leaders Manchester City, and eliminated from the League Cup.

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Rochdale’s Hill dismisses pitch criticism

Rochdale manager Keith Hill has dismissed criticism of the club’s home pitch by Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, saying the Argentine’s comments were a “low blow” and an “easy punch” ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round match.

The League One (third tier) club beat Millwall in the fourth round on a heavily sanded pitch at the Crown Oil Arena this month to set up a meeting with Spurs.

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‘Sturridge faces two weeks out’

West Bromwich Albion striker Daniel Sturridge is expected to make a quick return from the hamstring injury he sustained in the opening minutes of Monday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat by champions Chelsea, manager Alan Pardew has said.

The England international, who joined West Brom on loan from Liverpool in January, picked up the knock during his third appearance for the bottom-placed side.

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PSG still trailing in Real’s financial shadow

Paris Saint-Germain smashed the world-record transfer fee last year to sign Neymar from Barcelona, but despite the big spending driven by their Qatari owners, the French club still lag behind Real Madrid in terms of financial muscle.

Reigning European champions Real (647.6 million euros) made almost 200 million euros more in turnover than PSG last year, according to Deloitte.

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Argentina want Messi to play less

Argentina’s national football association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia has said he has spoken to captain Lionel Messi about playing fewer games for La Liga side Barcelona in order to stay fresh for his country ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Tapia’s pleas have largely gone unheeded by Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who has started Messi in 33 of the team’s total 39 games this season, only leaving him out of the matchday squad in three King’s Cup games.

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Seedorf suffers losing start

Clarence Seedorf got off on the wrong foot in his first game in charge of struggling Deportivo La Coruna as the Dutchman’s side lost 1-0 at home to Real Betis on Monday.

Betis forward Lorenzo Moron kicked on from his dream debut against Villarreal last weekend by netting the only goal of the game in the 55th minute, his third strike in his second appearance in the Betis first team.

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Five talking points from Bundesliga

Robert Lewandowski equalled his manager’s Bundesliga record of scoring in 11 consecutive home games but Jupp Heynckes was not on Bayern Munich’s bench to witness the feat.

Bayern kept their 18-point lead in the table with a 2-1 victory over Schalke as Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller netted superb first-half goals with head coach Heynckes, 72, watching at home on Saturday.

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‘Arsenal disaster actually just a blip’

Everton manager Sam Allardyce dismissed last weekend’s 5-1 rout at Arsenal as a blip on Thursday despite labelling it a “disaster” full of “pathetic” performances in an emotionally charged interview straight after the match.

A much more conciliatory Allardyce sought to explain away the defeat at a news conference when he called on his players to deliver the right reaction in Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace.

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