Barcelona and Arsenal aim to join Europe’s power teams in Champions League quarterfinals

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The big guns are lining up in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Defending champion Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have already booked their places in the last eight of European soccer’s top club competition and the full lineup will be completed this week.

All four remaining last-of-16 matches are finely balanced, with no more than one goal separating any of the teams after the first legs.

Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday in a clash between the reigning champions of Spain and Italy respectively. They drew 1-1 in the first leg in Italy.

In the day’s other game, Arsenal is 1-0 down against Porto ahead of its match at Emirates Stadium.

On Wednesday, Atletico Madrid must overturn a 1-0 deficit at home against Inter Milan, and host Borussia Dortmund and PSV Eindhoven are tied at 1-1 ahead of their game.

The quarterfinal and semifinal draws will be held on Friday at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

UNCONVINCING TITLE DEFENSES

Neither Barcelona nor Napoli have made convincing defenses of their domestic league titles.

Napoli faces a fight to even qualify for last season’s Champions League as it sits seven points off fourth-place Bologna in the Italian league and is on its third coach this term after appointing Francesco Calzona last month.

Barcelona is third in the Spanish league and coach Xavi Hernández has announced his intention to leave at the end of the season after an underwhelming campaign.

He would love to go out on a high by guiding the club to a sixth Champions League trophy. First things first, he needs to navigate a way past Napoli to lead Barcelona to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

ARSENAL’S AIM

Mikel Arteta’s priority is likely to be the Premier League, with Arsenal locked in a three-way battle with Liverpool and Manchester City for the title. But the Champions League quarterfinals are in sight — even if his team is a goal behind to Porto.

Arsenal returned to the Champions League for the first time in seven years this season and has impressed in advancing to the round of 16.

The Londoners looked to have secured a goalless first-leg draw at Porto until Galeno’s 90th-minute goal.

That was the only defeat in a stunning run of form that has seen Arsenal win eight of its last nine games and score four or more goals in five of those matches.

INTER IMPRESSING

Last year’s beaten finalist Inter Milan is powering on again this season.

Simone Inzaghi’s team is cruising toward the Italian title with only one league loss this season. Marko Arnautovic’s goal at Atletico in the first leg secured a 1-0 victory and was part of a 13-game winning run in all competitions.

By contrast, Atletico’s form has been far from convincing with five defeats in its last eight games.

PSV HOPE

Luuk de Jong’s penalty means there is nothing separating Dortmund and PSV ahead of Wednesday’s second leg.

The PSV forward scored from the spot to cancel out Donyell Malen’s earlier strike for Dortmund to leave the tie in the balance going back to Germany.

If the Dutch team can secure a win, it would advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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