Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice celebrates a goal
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Four talking points ahead of the Champions League action

Four talking points ahead of this week’s UEFA Champions League last-16 ties, featuring Peter Bosz’s reunion with Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal’s last-16 record, and chaos in Catalonia and Naples.

PSV hope to take Eredivisie form into Europe

PSV Eindhoven host Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 on Tuesday evening, with the Dutch side one of the form teams in Europe this season.

Under the management of ex-Dortmund boss Peter Bosz, PSV are runaway leaders in the Eredivisie, unbeaten in 22 games this season. PSV have won 20 of those games, drawing twice, and only dropped their first points of the league campaign on January 21.

In all competitions, PSV have been beaten just twice and are aiming to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2006/07.

Just three clubs from outside of Europe’s top five leagues – Benfica, Porto and Ajax – have reached the last eight of the competition in the last five seasons but PSV will enter their tie with Dortmund in confident mood.

Veteran forward Luuk de Jong will be key to the club’s hopes of beating their Bundesliga opponents, having scored 27 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions this season.

Can Inter challenge for the Champions League again?

Inter Milan exceeded expectations to reach the Champions League final last season, reaching the decider for the first time since treble success under Jose Mourinho in 2010. Despite finishing third in Serie A, the Nerazzurri impressed in Europe to secure a place in the final against Manchester City.

This season, Inter look improved from last term and are heading towards a 20th Scudetto. Simeone Inzaghi’s side are nine points clear at the top of the division, with a game in hand, and enter their clash with Atletico Madrid this week on a run of six straight Serie A wins.

Lautaro Martinez has been in electric form with 20 goals in 21 league starts, ably supported by summer signing Marcus Thuram and the excellent Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Atletico Madrid will be a serious test of the club’s credentials, however, with Diego Simeone’s side awkward opponents for any side.

Inter, however, have the quality to progress and underline their status as potential dark horses to challenge for European success.

Will Arsenal end last-16 woes?

Arsenal have made an impressive return to the Champions League this season, cruising through a modest group-stage draw on their first appearance in the competition since 2016/17.

Mikel Arteta’s team made light work of their group and now face the challenge of progressing from a two-legged last-16 tie. Arsenal have endured a poor record at this stage of the tournament, having been eliminated in the last-16 in each of their last seven Champions League campaigns.

The Gunners have not reached the Champions League quarter-finals since 2009/10, while no team has been eliminated in the last 16 on more occasions than Arsenal, since the abolishment of the second group stage in 2003/04 (9).

Arsenal will also need to improve on past performances at Porto, having lost on their last two visits to The Estádio do Dragão.

Champions of Italy and Spain meet in states of chaos

Napoli and Barcelona had seasons to celebrate last term, as each were crowned champions of their respective nations. Napoli’s title triumph was a first in more than three decades, as Luciano Spalletti’s side impressively won the Scudetto.

Spalletti’s decision to walk away following that success has led to a disappointing defence of their crown, with Napoli now onto their third manager of the campaign in Francesco Calzona, after Rudi Garcia and Walter Mazzarri’s short-lived stints.

Calzona’s appointment comes on the eve of their Champions League showdown with Barcelona, who are in their own state of uncertainty. Xavi has confirmed that he will step down from his role as head coach at Camp Nou in the summer, with the Catalans eight points adrift of Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.

Barcelona will need to improve on a poor recent record away from home in Europe, as the Spaniards prepare to travel to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. The Blaugrana have won just one of their last 10 away games in the Champions League’s knockout rounds.

Read – England: Who will be on the plane for Euro 2024?

See more – The youngest players to score in six straight Premier League games

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