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A closer look at the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals

Four gripping games in store as European title race gathers pace.

The 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup reaches its quarter-final stage this weekend with four blockbusting ties.

Sale Sharks, through to their first European Cup quarter-final since 2006, visit La Rochelle and holders Exeter host four-time champions Leinster on Saturday, while Sunday's action is all-French as Bordeaux-Begles tackle Racing 92 and Clermont Auvergne entertain Toulouse.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the facts and figures behind the last-eight.

La Rochelle v Sale Sharks

La Rochelle

European Cup best: Quarter-finalists 2018.

League position: 2nd.

Top points: 12 – Jules Plisson.

Top tries: 1 – Raymond Rhule, Dillyn Leyds, Arthur Retiere, Jeremy Sinzelle.

Player to watch: Gregory Alldritt.

Sale Sharks

European Cup best: Quarter-finalists 2006.

League position: 3rd.

Top points: 36 – AJ MacGinty.

Top tries: 2 – Marland Yarde, Akker van der Merwe.

Player to watch: Faf de Klerk.

Verdict: Sale Sharks win.

Exeter v Leinster

London Irish v Exeter Chiefs – Gallagher Premiership – Madejski Stadium
Exeter number eight Sam Simmonds (David Davies/PA)

Exeter

European Cup best: Winners 2020.

League position: 2nd.

Top points: 20 – Joe Simmonds.

Top tries: 3 – Jonny Hill.

Player to watch: Sam Simmonds.

Leinster

European Cup best: Winners 2009, 2011, 2012, 2018.

League position: Guinness PRO14 champions 2021.

Top points: 20 – Ross Byrne.

Top tries: 2 – Dave Kearney.

Player to watch: Robbie Henshaw.

Verdict: Leinster win.

Bordeaux-Begles v Racing 92

Bordeaux-Begles

European Cup best: Quarter-finalists 2021.

League position: 5th.

Top points: 39 – Matthieu Jalibert.

Top tries: 4 – Santiago Cordero.

Player to watch: Matthieu Jalibert.

Racing 92

European Cup best: Runners-up 2016, 2018, 2020.

League position: 3rd.

Top points: 27 – Maxime Machenaud.

Top tries: 3 – Teddy Thomas.

Player to watch: Camille Chat.

Verdict: Racing 92 win.

Clermont Auvergne v Toulouse

2021 Six Nations Preview Package
Toulouse and France scrum-half Antoine Dupont (Adam Davy/PA)

Clermont Auvergne

European Cup best: Runners-up 2013, 2015, 2017.

League position: 4th.

Top points: 35 – Camille Lopez.

Top tries: 4 – Kotaro Matsushima.

Player to watch: Fritz Lee.

Toulouse

European Cup best: Winners 1996, 2003, 2005, 2010.

League position: 1st.

Top points: 20 – Romain Ntamack.

Top tries: 3 – Antoine Dupont.

Player to watch: Antoine Dupont.

Verdict: Toulouse win.

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