Pressure is on Manchester City to deliver in a Champions League battle between the world's biggest spenders
The rainswept Champions League semifinal encounter between Real Madrid and Chelsea on Tuesday was a game between two gritty and grizzled, been-there-done-that veterans of the competition. The two sides have featured in six of the last 13 finals and won five of them.
Wednesday's match-up is a very different affair. Two of the biggest spenders on the planet over the past ten years are meeting in Paris, but only one has actually graced the Champions League final in that time.
That club was PSG and the appearance last season along with another show-up in the final four has relieved some of the expectations on a team whose forward line of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Mauro Icardi racks up to a near half-a-billion dollar investment.
The elephant on Manchester City's back is the size of Wisconsin. The club has spent vast quantities in the transfer market and although that has been rewarded with plenty of domestic trinkets, there has been a distinct failure in the Champions League. Even Tottenham have reached a final ahead of City, with Mauricio Pochettino at the helm.
Self-induced stress from Pep Guardiola has always been partly to blame for Man City's failures. Although the Spaniard, who himself has not made a Champions League final since leaving Barcelona, is trying a more chilled approach this year, Guardiola did admit that Neymar and Mbappe in full force has given him sleepless nights.
And so, they should.
Kylian Mbappe is in imperious form this season with 33 goals in Ligue 1 and the Champions League, while Neymar has been freshly focussed on the pitch and seems to be at peace with his PSG future and a new contract to be signed. "Everything is nearly sorted. I feel at ease. I feel truly very happy here at PSG," soothed Neymar ahead of Wednesday's mighty match-up.
Barcelona get ready for LaLiga clutch match
Wednesday's Champions League match-up is also between two possible futures for Lionel Messi who will still be contemplating his immediate career destiny. For the moment though, a clutch catch-up game in LaLiga on Thursday awaits against Granada.
A victory for Barca in the Camp Nou would put Ronald Koeman's men at the top of the LaLiga standings, but only by a single point. Barcelona vs. Granada is live on beIN SPORTS on Thursday from 12:50PM ET / 9:50AM PT.
A tense affair in LaLiga is being offered up by beIN SPORTS on Wednesday with Athletic Club taking on a Valladolid side that is caught in the relegation quicksand and currently third-from-bottom of the standings. That game is live from 12:50PM ET / 9:50AM PT.
Meanwhile, Super Lig-leading Besiktas can take a giant leap forward in the title race with a win against Rizespor, live for free on beIN XTRA from 1:20PM ET / 10:20AM PT.
Carlos Tevez ends a sorry spell for Santos
An already crappy week for Santos got considerably worse on Tuesday night in the Copa Liberadores. The Brazilian team's coach, Ariel Holan, walked out over the weekend after just two months in charge while star player, Yeferson Soteldo joined Toronto FC. The misery was compounded by a 2-0 defeat against Boca Juniors in a match where the classic figure of Carlos Tevez delivered the first goal.
That defeat ruined what would have been a clean sweep for Brazilian teams in Tuesday's match-day two games. Two strikes from Gabigol game Flamengo a 4-1 win over Union La Calera while the reigning champions of Palmeiras continued a flying start to their defense with a 5-0 hammering of Independiente del Valle. Internacional and Atletico Mineiro both picked up wins as well.
There are seven matches across the beIN SPORTS network today including the mighty River Plate in action against Junior from 8:20PM ET / 5:20PM PT live on beIN SPORTS, the filling in a sandwich of three back-to-back games on the network.