UEFA Champions League Weds preview: Wenger reunited with Monaco, Atletico heads to Leverkusen

0 Comments

Wednesday brings the final two first legs of the Round of 16 in this season’s UEFA Champions League, and both promise to provide flowing soccer.

On one side, you have Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger entertains his alma mater in AS Monaco.

And on the other, it’s last year’s finalists Atletico Madrid hoping to hold off Bundesliga power Bayer Leverkusen.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup ]

Wenger (pictured at right with some sort of matching bandit) managed Monaco from 1987-1994, winning Ligue 1 in 1988 and the Coupe de France in 1991 before moving on to Japan’s Nagoya Grampus Eight and then Arsenal. Monaco has produced several Arsenal players, both strong (Thierry Henry) and not-so-strong (Park Chu-Young).

This year, Premier League fans will recognize names like Dimitar Berbatov and Maarten Stekelenburg, but Jeremy Toulalan captains the squad and is a big part of its success. Along with Joao Moutinho, the pair will dictate how things go for the engine room.

Bayer Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt has undergone some trying times in his first season since arriving from Red Bull Salzburg. Struggling Bayer is four points back of third place in the Bundesliga, but also just four points clear of 10th. Lars Bender, Josep Drmic and Stefan Kiessling are players to monitor, and Bayer also has a once-capped American netminder on the squad in 33-year-old,backup keeper David Yelldell.

What needs to be said about Atletico Madrid other than they are capable of just about anything under Diego Simeone. From Fernando Torres and Koke to Arda Turan and Mario Mandzukic, Atlei can crush opponents any number of ways. By the time they depart Germany, will the tie be over?