by Tim Stannard
Barcelona set for Bayern Munich battle in the Champions League as Real Madrid could face a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion
The Champions League is back!
When the world went to hell in a handcart in March, the 2019-20 Champions League was left in limbo with only some of the Last-16 matches being completed.
That meant while Atletico Madrid was able to perform a lockdown celebration after beating Liverpool over two legs, Real Madrid were still in limbo against Manchester City with just one match played.
Friday saw some clarity in what happens next in the tournament with the draw being held for the quarterfinal and semifinal stages, which are now set to be one-off events being held in August from the 12th August in Lisbon.
However, the last-16 matches which are remaining will be played in the original stadiums on the 7th and 8th August. This means that Real Madrid will need to travel to Manchester City to claw back a 1-0 deficit on the EPL side. If the Spanish side prevails, then a potential fixture against Cristiano Ronaldo awaits although Juventus has to move past Lyon first.
Barcelona will not be happy at all with the draw.
If the Catalans get past a sprightly Napoli at the Camp Nou - the scores are currently tied at 1-1 - then Barca will almost certainly face a well-rested Bayern Munich team that is currently 3-0 up over Chelsea in its first leg Last-16 game.
Atletico Madrid will be feeling fairly confident of getting a 1-0 win against RB Leipzig, especially since star striker, Timo Werner, has left the club.
PSG would temporarily be feeling the same way with a quarterfinal tie against Atalanta, before remembering that the Serie A side is one of the most in-form in Europe this season.
Paris Saint-Germain Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi reacted after the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the @ChampionsLeague 🎙— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) July 10, 2020
"We’re looking forward to an interesting clash with Atalanta" pic.twitter.com/4zYSF9nptD
Exciting news ahoy! PSG returns to action on Sunday after 123 days out with a warm-up game against Le Havre. But there is something extra special about the match - supporters. 5000 of them in the crowd. And it's all on beIN SPORTS on Sunday at 1:30PM ET. No added crowd noise required.
Real Madrid with makeshift defence against Alaves
Before the Champions League gets underway, Real Madrid has a bigger fish to fry - the LaLiga title.
If Real Madrid makes it eight wins from eight since the restart today, then Coach Zizou's side will take a four-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table with three games to go.
On paper, that looks a solid bet, considering Madrid is at home against Alaves, statistically one of the worst teams in LaLiga since the restart. However, there is an awful lot to increase the number of lines on Zinedine Zidane's furrowed brow.
First. the backline is a little makeshift with Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal suspended and Marcelo out injured.
Second - Real Madrid is struggling for goals. The last two matches - plodding 1-0 wins needing VAR interventions and penalties - showed a team that is slowing down a little and with Karim Benzema in a cold spell without a goal in four games. Luka Jovic is back in quarantine and Eden Hazard is still nursing an ankle injury, although the Belgian makes Friday's match day squad.
Third - Alaves is very much in a relegation battle and very much capable of digging in and getting a point which could be enough to stay up.
Coverage of Real Madrid vs. Alaves gets underway at 3:30PM ET and is preceded by Real Sociedad trying to get into the European places with a home tie against Granada.
More bad news for college sports
More tough days for college sports are afoot with the Big Ten announcing that the league will only have in-conference matches this season for all sports. This added to the news from earlier in the week that the Ivy League would not have any sports in the fall, potentially moving everything to the spring.
Big Ten Statement on 2020-21 Fall Season:https://t.co/KLjc4mA47h— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) July 9, 2020
Meanwhile, NFL players have reacted to the publication of a set of safety guidelines for the new season which range from face masks for all those not involved in game play and also a ban on swapping jerseys at the end of matches.
However, the possible mandatory use of face shields could see one particular star sitting out the season, J.J. Watt. "If that comes into play, I don't think you're gonna see me on the field," announced the Houston Texans defensive end to Pro-Football Talk.
Formula 1 continues restart and expands
Formula 1 returns this weekend for its second race of the rejigged calendar, and the sport's second race in a row in Austria. However, two more races have been added to the current schedule of 10, and those are Grand Prix set to take place in Italy and Russia.
F1 is expected to eventually reach a tally of 15 races with further additions expected in Portugal, Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates.