Sports Burst - Atletico Madrid's Champions League Trapdoor Trial

Reuters

By Tim Stannard

A win puts Atletico Madrid into next round or fate will lie in Juve's hands 

 

Tuesday's Champions League clashes saw Liverpool wolfing down a serving of freedom fries from Jesse Marsch at RB Salzburg to go through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. 

Ajax and Inter also looked into the eyes of soccer destiny but turned away in defeat, to face punishment for their failures with a spell in the phantom zone of the Europa League. 

Atletico Madrid are the biggest fish on Wednesday trying to avoid that particular trawler net of doom. The good news for Diego Simeone's men who are barely incapable of scoring these days with just 16 league goals from 16 games is that Atleti might not have to lift a footballing finger to progress.

 

Simeone's side are currently in second in Group D, one point ahead of Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga outfit is at home to Juventus. If Leverkusen lose that game, then Atletico Madrid are through, no matter what happens in their home clash against Lokomotiv Moscow. 

Ideally, though Atletico need to win the game to ensure a comfy evening in the Wanda. For that reason, Simeone was in cautious mood warning that "every game can be a trap." 

 

Tuchel gives Mbappe warning after subbing sensation 

 

Elsewhere in the final matchday of the group stages, PSG and Real Madrid are already through in Group A, however, the names of both clubs popped up in the prematch chatter despite playing Galatasaray and Club Brugge respectively. 

Thomas Tuchel was unsurprisingly asked about the literal cold shoulder given to him by Kylian Mbappe when the striker was substituted in the final minutes of the weekend's league match against Montpellier. 

"He must accept being subbed off and show respect to other players," warned the PSG boss. The weirdness further pushed the theory that Mbappe would be moving to Real Madrid this summer or had caught Neymar-itis and was going through a rebellious phase. 

Group B is already done and dusted with Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur already through to the next round. Manchester City have qualified from Group C with Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta are all in with a chance of passing through to Monday's draw. 

 

Ancelotti out at Napoli but in at Arsenal 

 

The Italian Serie A managerial super shuffle looks set to continue on Wednesday with former Milan manager, Gennaro Gattuso, set to take over at Napoli from former Milan manager, Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked by the club on Tuesday

Although Napoli qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday, the decision to remove Ancelotti and his eyebrow from his Neopolitan post had reportedly been made a week ago by Napoli owner, Aurelio de Laurentiis, after a struggling league campaign that sees the club in seventh and experiencing player rebellions after a general refusal to attend a training camp. 

That rebellion was met by the owner threatening to sue the players for their disobedience.

Happy days.

To this end, the move for the Italian veteran might even feel like an enormous sense of relief for Ancelotti, who is now immediately being linked with the vacant Arsenal job, which would feel like sharing a sofa with kittens and puppies and eating ice cream in comparison.