Champions League: Bayern faces a daunting task against Lazio, but it looks easier for Madrid, Man City, and PSG

Champions League: Bayern faces a daunting task against Lazio, but it looks easier for Madrid, Man City, and PSG

The four European football powers that lead UEFA´s club rankings return to the Champions League round of 16 in midweek with Bayern Munich looking out of form and at risk of a stunning elimination.

Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Paris Saint-Germain all take a lead into second-leg games and all are unbeaten in 2024 in their domestic leagues.

Bayern, however, has lost three Bundesliga games since January and three of its last five in all competitions including a 1-0 defeat at Lazio in the first leg.

Bayern has reached the Champions League quarterfinals in each of the last four years and went on to win the 2020 final against a PSG team then coached by Thomas Tuchel. But the current slump has seen Bayern already announce Tuchel will leave at the end of the season after just over a year in charge.

Bayern's home game against Lazio shapes as the game most in the balance this week. Also Tuesday, PSG takes a 2-0 lead to Spain against another slumping team, Real Sociedad.

PSG is dealing with the fallout of Kylian Mbappé´s upcoming exit at the end of the season but still has a four-month unbeaten run while Real Sociedad has lost two more Spanish league games since the first leg in Paris.

The two standout teams in the Champions League this season - and the past two title winners - play at home on Wednesday.

Madrid has a 1-0 lead over Leipzig from the first leg which was the record 14-time European champion´s seventh straight win in the competition this season.

Man City also made it seven in a row beating Copenhagen 3-1 in Denmark three weeks ago.

The rest of the round of 16 is completed next week, ahead of the quarterfinal draw on March 15 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

 On March 12, Arsenal hosts Porto trailing 1-0 from the first leg and Barcelona faces Napoli after a 1-1 draw in Italy.

Inter Milan takes a 1-0 lead to Atletico Madrid on March 13, when Borussia Dortmund hosts PSV Eindhoven tied at 1-1.

The 21 games left in this Champions League will finalize the 12-strong European challenge at the 2025 Club World Cup that FIFA is relaunching in the United States.

Borussia Dortmund or Leipzig will qualify, and it's Atletico Madrid or Barcelona unless Real Sociedad wins this edition of the Champions League. Juventus will go if Lazio or Napoli don´t progress much further in this Champions League.

FIFA has rebooted its club event as a 32-team tournament from June 15 to July 13 next year in the same format as the men´s World Cup has been since 1998.

It promises tens of millions of dollars in prize money and a brand-building opportunity to play competitive games in the coveted American market.

Europe´s entries are the Champions League winners from 2021 through 2024 - Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City so far - plus the highest-ranked teams based on all results in the competition over the same four-year period. The limit is two teams per country unless Arsenal wins the Champions League this season.