It feels good to live in a world where you can watch a 24/7 soccer network whenever you feel like it. Mike Goodman here, and I'm tearing my eyes away from Morning Footy on CBS Sports Golazo Network to bring you everything you need to know about the Champions League action this week.
Manchester City made Bayern Munich pay for their errors on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, Chelsea will look to save their season against Real Madrid while Napoli and AC Milan will move us closer to an all-Serie A semifinal. Let's get to it.
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📺 Champions League on Paramount+
All times U.S./Eastern.
🎥 CBS Sports Golazo Network will offer a live second-screen tactical cam for Real-Chelsea.
📺 Europa League top picks
All times U.S./Eastern.
Thursday, April 12
⚽ Feyenoord vs. AS Roma, 12:45 p.m. ➡️ Golazo Network/Paramount+
⚽ Bayer Leverkusen vs. Union Saint-Gilloise, 3 p.m. ➡️ Golazo Network/Paramount+
⚽ Juventus vs. Sporting CP, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Manchester United vs. Sevilla, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ The Forward Line
Chelsea try to save season vs. Real Madrid
It's a classic story. A massive team undergoing with disappointing domestic results turning to the Champions League to salvage a poor campaign. A young, tactically innovative coach has just failed, so ownership decides to bring in a journeyman manager with deep ties to the club to steady the ship. They're massive underdogs to a Spanish club with a history of success in Europe's biggest tournament. Nobody gives them much of a chance. And then, they go on to shock the world.
I am, of course, talking about Chelsea ... during the 2011-12 season. It was Andre Villas-Boas who got fired that season and Roberto Di Matteo came in and led Chelsea to their first Champions League title, beating Barcelona in the semifinals and Bayern Munich in the final. The important thing to remember about that run is that they did not exactly start playing amazing football to pull it off. When Chelsea beat Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals, it was despite being outshot 46-12 across two legs. In the final, they took a 1-1 match to penalties and won despite being outshot 34-9. But sometimes it all comes together.
Of course, the star midfielder on those teams was none other than Frank Lampard, the man now looking to follow Di Matteo's footsteps and take Chelsea on an improbable run to Champions League glory. And there's no need to sugar coat things: The odds are stacked up against him in what seems like a near impossible task as a caretaker coach who has not been at the helm for a week. They're nestled in 11th place in the Premier League, firmly between fellow London denizens Fulham and Crystal Palace. The "disappointing" Chelsea side they're trying to emulate finished sixth, only five points out of the Champions League-qualifying top four. This team is five points behind eighth place Liverpool (who are having their own horrible-no-good-very-bad-day season).
But, in a game as fickle as this, there's always at least a chance. And this time around for Chelsea, it rests on the return of N'Golo Kante, who covers so much ground and recently returned from a hamstring injury. Here's James Benge on the returning stars and the boost they could give Lampard.
- Benge: "Lampard's Chelsea are overwhelming underdogs for their Champions League quarterfinal with Real Madrid, but the potential presence of two European champions in his squad, both of whom were standout performers when Chelsea won the competition in 2021, might make the Blues' task that much more palatable. Kante played no part in Saturday's defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, but that was a decision made with an eye on him being able to feature against Real Madrid. Silva, meanwhile, has been sidelined since a defeat to Tottenham in February due to ankle ligament issues."
Make sure you check out Benge's.
Craving more soccer coverage? Listen below and follow House of Champions, a CBS Sports soccer podcast, bringing you top-notch analysis, commentary, picks and more.
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🔗 Midfield Link Play
A brutally honest convo with Henry and Micah
A lot of my job curating this newsletter is giving you the executive summary of a story, or a news item or a clip, or anything that is worth your while. You're all busy people and I show up in your inbox three times a week to give you what you need to know. I'm not going to do that with this one.
On the UEFA Champions League Post-Match show on Paramount+, the crew held a discussion over Inter striker Romelu Lukaku and the racism he and other Black players have faced in the sport. Thierry Henry and Micah Richards, two players who once plied their trade in Italy, voiced their frustration with the lack of change in the game. It's nine minutes, and it's worth watching every second. Just click the link and make the time.
How do we stamp out racism from football and what role should refs play?— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 11, 2023
Thierry Henry, @MicahRichards and @ChristinaUnkel have a frank discussion on Romelu Lukaku’s sending off against Juventus after reacting to racial abuse. pic.twitter.com/CiYCrBlbeQ
And now let's get to some links:
🔗 If you haven't heard, CBS Sports Golazo Network is now live with 24/7 soccer coverage. Watch it here.
🔗 The Morning Footy crew breaks down what to expect from Napoli vs. AC Milan.
🔗 Man City dominated Bayern Munich in Tuesday's biggest UCL matchup.
🔗 Their attack might get the headlines, but .
🔗 Elsewhere, Inter cruise to victory over Benfica in Portugal, writes Jonathan Johnson.
🔗 The USWNT wrapped up a two-game series with Ireland with an underwhelming 1-0 win.
🔗 , and Dayot Upemacano may want to look away.
🔗 Micah Richards welcomed Morning Footy to the CBS Sports Golazo Network airwaves in a ... unique way.
🔗 House of Champions: The team looks back over the Champions League action.
🔗 Attacking Third: Sandra and Lisa breakdown USWNT's lackluster performance against Ireland.
🔗 And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from NWSL to Champions League to Serie A and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. 📺 You can try one month free by using the code: NWSL2023.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with this weekend's best bets.
- UCL: Real Madrid vs. Chelsea, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Chelsea (+400) -- I really don't think Chelsea will win, but I just cannot turn down that massive number. Madrid at this point in the season are increasingly turning it on when they need to and coasting when they don't. They've only won four out of their last nine matches. I think they probably flip the switch as they face Chelsea, but am I "+400 sure" that the switch will work? I am not.
- UCL: AC Milan vs. Napoli, Wednesday, 3 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: AC Milan 0 - Napoli 1 (+675) -- Let's get really specific here. Napoli are without their top two strikers through injury, but they've still been once of the best defensive teams in Serie A. And while yes, Milan beat them 4-0 a week and a half ago, that was in a match that was extremely important to Milan. Napoli might have been clearly looking ahead to this match. Look for Napoli to not be their free-flowing selves without their attackers, but do just enough to put themselves in the driver's seat of this tie anyway.