Elimination time in Champions League
As the Champions League kicks off the second leg of the Round of 16 on Tuesday, let's take a look at some of the important aspects in each of this week's matches:
• Barcelona hosts Arsenal at Camp Nou on Tuesday and will need to overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit without both of its starting central defenders. Captain Carles Puyol has been ruled out with a knee injury, while Gerard Pique will miss the match because of suspension for yellow card accumulation. Opposing sides have found it difficult to score against Barcelona at home, though it has been missing Puyol since January. It has conceded three goals at Camp Nou in 2011, and just eight times in 14 La Liga matches at home this season.
• Barcelona may have difficulty again with Arsenal, which has been on a scoring tear in 2011. Despite being held scoreless by Sunderland over the weekend, the Gunners have tallied 36 goals in 18 matches in all competitions in 2011, scoring multiple goals in 11 of those contests. This success includes trips away from the Emirates, as Arsenal has posted multiple tallies in its past four Premier League away matches. Arsenal could be even further boosted by the return of Robin van Persie, who has been named to the squad and could see action.
• Also on Tuesday, Roma travels to Shakhtar trailing 3-2 on aggregate. Roma needs to win to advance, either by at least a two-goal margin or scoring three times. Only one Champions League team has ever advanced after losing the first leg at home (Ajax over Panathinaikos in the 1996 semifinals), so Roma has a tough task ahead.
• Looking to Wednesday's matches, AC Milan faces a situation similar to Roma's as it travels to White Hart Lane, trailing Tottenham 1-0 on aggregate. Milan's defeat in the first leg is the only one the club has suffered in 2011. Like Roma, Milan needs a win to advance, but it is winless in its past six matches against English clubs. While Tottenham should have the edge as the home side, keep in mind that Milan is unbeaten in 13 consecutive away matches dating back to October.
• Finally, Schalke hosts Valencia with the matchup all square at 1-1. Schalke has the advantage thanks to the first-leg away goal scored by Raul, his 71st Champions League tally, the most all-time. The German side won all three group stage matches at home, scoring eight times while conceding only once. Valencia has just one win in 10 visits to Germany (1-7-2), but the lone victory came against Schalke in a 2007 Champions League group stage match.