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Pressure on Spanish trio in Champions League ties (preview)

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Madrid, Nov 22 (IANS) Three Spanish sides play at home in the Champions League on Tuesday night in games they have no option but to win if they want to progress into the knockout stages of the competition.

FC Barcelona take on Benfica at home in Xavi Hernandez’s second game in charge knowing that anything other than a win against the Portuguese side is likely to see them knocked out of the tournament.

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Barca currently have two points more than the side that beat them 3-0 in their first meeting in the group stage, but with a visit to play Bayern Munich in the last group game, it’s unlikely they will get anything in the last round of group matches.

A win would take Barca five points clear and assure their place in the last 16, which is so important to their economy.

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Xavi is still without Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite, Sergino Dest, and Pedri which limit his options of squad rotating and is again likely to put his faith in the club’s youngsters, reports Xinhua.

Villarreal are at home to Manchester United in a repeat of last season’s Europa League final, with the two sides currently tied on seven points in their qualifying group, with Atalanta just two points behind.

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A win for either team would put them into the next round, but a draw would leave everything open until the last game.

Manchester United travel with Michael Carrick in temporary charge after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday in the wake of their 4-1 humiliation to Watford on Saturday and it’s almost impossible to predict how they will play.

United were dreadful in Watford and have been poor in a lot of games, but Villarreal will be worried that Solskjaer’s departure will provoke a reaction from players who have been nowhere near their best form this season and the Spanish club will remember the disappointment of their last-minute defeat in Old Trafford in their first meeting.

Sevilla are currently bottom of Group G, but still have a decent chance of qualifying given that they are just two points behind Tuesday’s rivals Wolfsburg and second-place Lille, who playgroup leaders RB Salzburg in a very close group.

–IANS

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