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Tuesday’s Field of Play: Champions League, Copa Lib, and the forgotten championship

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club  - Liga BBVA

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 31: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona folds his hands during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Camp Nou on March 31, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

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As was the case last Wednesday, it’s difficult to look past Barcelona-Milan when taking inventory of a day’s matches. With knuckles surprisingly whitening across Cataluyna, it’s easy to see why the rest of the world’s attention is being drawn to the Nou Camp, though there’s more soccer to be had on Tuesday. From Munich to South America, confederation championships are in play across the world. And lest we narrow out view too much, let’s not forget one regional title that our clocks often trick us into overlooking.

UEFA Champions League

  • For Bayern Munich (Germany), today’s second leg is expected to be less of a challenge, more of an audition. They’re the team most often cited as a potential challenge to this year’s Barcelona-Real Madrid dyad, a status inferred from their talent and the final’s location: their home ground, Allianz Arena. They carry a 2-0 lead into their home leg against a Marseille (France) side that, somewhat controversially, were given the weekend off in Ligue 1. OM haven’t played since last Wednesday’s first leg, but without a win since February 22, their extra rest is unlikely to matter against FCB, who will be expected to post a convincing result. (Kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)
  • And in the day’s main event, tensions are unexpectedly high in and around the Nou Camp. Barcelona (Spain) brought a 0-0 result back from last Wednesday’s match at the San Siro, yet there is the feeling that Milan (Italy) – and specifically, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – can steal this one. If Ibra sings the right song, Barça will need to score (at least) twice, though without Thiago Silva available for Milan, that will be slightly easier to do. Still, focusing on Ibrahimovic or Silva obscures what should really draw our attention: It’s been over five months since Barça’s been held under two goals at home. (2:45 p.m. ET)

Copa Libertadores

  • The two clubs tied at the top of Group 2 face off in Argentina, with Lanus welcoming an Olimpia (Paraguay) team that’s coming off four points in two matches from former group favorites Flamengo (Brazil). Olimpia won the reverse fixture 2-1, scoring two of the three goals Lanus has allowed in the tournament. (6:45 p.m. ET)
  • After being surprised in their opening match of group play, Vasco de Gama (Brazil) have rattled off seven points from three games and sit even on atop Group 5. Tonight they make the trek west to Peru, visiting a last-place Alianza Lima side they downed 3-2 in Rio last month. That result, however, came against a team that played with 10 for over 40 minutes. (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • And while Cruz Azul sits precariously mid-table in Mexico’s Clausura, they’re in much better shape in Libertadores. Sitting second place in Group 6, La Maquina go to Venezuela to visit a Deportivo Tachira team they defeated 4-0 at Estadio Azul. Enrique Meza’s group is coming off their two toughest matches in group, seeing 0-0 and 0-1 finals against Brazil’s Corinthians. (9:00 p.m. ET)

AFC Champions League

  • Asia’s biggest club competition was back in action in our early hours, with the day’s final matches (in UAE, Iran, and Qatar) concluding as I type. In the early seat of matches:

    • Central Coast Mariners (Australia) held on with 10 men for the last half hour after Joshua Rose saw red, earning a 1-1 draw with visiting Seongram (South Korea). Both teams went into the match with a chance to go top of Group G but now sit two points behind Nagoya Grampus.
    • Nagoya Grampus sit there thanks to a 3-0 win in China over Tianjin Teda. Though is was the Chinese club’s first loss of the tournament, they sit bottom of Group G having scored only once in three matches.
    • In the days’ second South Korea versus Australia battle, an own goal from U.S.-born Bruce Djite was the only score as Pohang Steelers downed visiting Adelaide United. It was Adelaide’s first loss of the tournament, while Pohang pulled even with United at the top of Group E.
    • Two goals from the spot from Rafinha helped Gamba Osaka (Japan) to an easy win over Uzbeki spenders Bunyodkor. It was Gamba’s first win in three rounds. Both sides are chasing Adelaide and Pohang.