Rugby's most prestigious club competition returns with a bang this weekend as eight clubs with 13 European titles between them do battle for a place in the last four of the Heineken Champions Cup.

With all four quarter-finals live on BT Sport across the weekend, we preview each match - including live stream information and team news - ahead of what is sure to be an unmissable two days of drama.

The story of the Champions Cup so far

After eight months of waiting, Europe’s premier club competition is back and re-cap how 20 teams became eight following four months of rip-roaring pool-stage action. 

Leinster v Saracens

Saturday 19 September, 2.30pm

Live Stream – & BT Sport app

TV - BT Sport 3HD

European titans Leinster and Saracens will get the Champions Cup quarter-final weekend underway when they go toe-to-toe at the Aviva Stadium in a repeat of last year's final.

The Premiership side prevailed on that occasion but the hosts are the bookies favourites this time round.

This will be Leinster’s 15th European Cup quarter-final and the Irish province boast a decent record at the last eight stage. Of the previous 14, they have landed the spoils in 10, including a 30-19 win over Saturday's opponents two years ago.

The Irish giants have had the perfect preparation, beating Ulster last weekend to win a third-straight Pro14 title, but they know Saracens will be an altogether different challenge.

Despite running out comfortable winners last time out, last year's runners-up will know there are areas of their game that will need to be improved if they are to knock Saracens off their Champions Cup perch.

Indeed, head coach Stuart Lancaster has warned his players not to underestimate their opponents, describing the club's quest for a fourth European Cup in five years as their 'last dance' before relegation to the second tier of English rugby.

“We will not be underestimating them,” said Lancaster. “I know their players and coaches too well and they are far from a broken team.

"Their narrative will be that this is their last dance with some players leaving the club after their European campaign is over."

One player who will be missing on Saturday is Owen Farrell, who is serving a five-game suspension for his high tackle on Wasps fly-half Charlie Atkinson. 

Although Sarries will have to do without their talisman at the Aviva, Farrell's fingerprints have been all over the squad's preparations for Saturday's showdown.

According to McCall, Farrell has been steeling his team-mates for battle by adopting Johnny Sexton’s role in training this week. 

“[Owen is] running the opposition against us, running some of Leinster’s plays, so he’ll be a huge help to us,” said McCall. “He just wants to help. He regrets the situation he finds himself in but now he just wants to help the team as much as he can."

The England captain is set to be replaced at fly-half by either Manu Vunipola or Alex Goode.

The reigning champions look to have hit form just at the right time as Saturday's Anglo-Irish battle looms.

A victory over runaway Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs has provided the perfect tonic ahead of what is set to be brutally physical test.

“That was such an energy giver for the boys going into this week ahead,” raved Alex Sanderson, Saracens’ forwards and defence coach.

“You can’t coach that kind of intent and togetherness, work rate and relentless physicality they showed.

“Leinster are a very very good team and we are by far and away the huge underdogs. But we are not going to go there without a fight.” 

Clermont v Racing 92

Saturday 19 September, 5.15pm

Live Stream – & BT Sport app

TV - BT Sport 3HD 

A mouth-watering all-French clash concludes our coverage on Saturday as Clermont go head-to-head with Top 14 leaders Racing. 

Neither side have managed the holy grail of lifting the Champions Cup but both have had their fair share of final heartbreak in recent years. 

Clermont, cruelly dubbed the bridesmaids of European rugby, have reached the final on three occasions and fallen short in every single one – twice to Toulon in 2013 and 2015 and once to Saracens in 2017.

It's a similar story for Racing who lost out to Saracens in 2016 and Leinster in 2018.

The Parisians will also be desperate to avoid a repeat of last season, when they were dumped out at the quarter-final stage by Top 14 rivals Toulouse. 

Racing's preparation for Saturday has been overshadowed by growing speculation that summer signing Kurtley Beale could be unavailable through suspension.

The Wallabies international was sent off in just his second game in France and now faces a ban that could rule him out of this weekend's all-Top 14 clash. 

These sides met at this stage in 2018, with Racing victorious on that occasion, however a vastly experienced Clermont side, playing at the formidable Marcel Michelin Stadium, will be an arduous adversary for the Parisians.  

Toulouse v Ulster

Sunday 20 September, 12pm

Live Stream – & BT Sport app

TV - BT Sport 3HD

Ulster don't have long to bounce back from the heartbreak of defeat in the Pro14 final with a trip to French soil looming large.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at the 33,000-capacity Le Stadium but local restrictions implemented around Covid-19 have forced Toulouse to return to the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

The hosts earned their home quarter-final after winning all six of their pool-five games and are already being tipped by many to claim a record-breaking fifth crown this season.

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland knows his side will have to be at their best to upset the odds and reach a first Champions Cup semi-final for eight years.

"It is tough," admitted McFarland, the head coach who has led the side to the last eight in Europe's top competition for a second time in as many seasons after a four-year absence.

"Toulouse were eighth last year in the Top 14, but if you watch them, they're one of the best teams in Europe.

"Size, speed, offload ability and they've got the best number nine in the world. Try and find a weakness in their game, it's really difficult.

"It's a challenge but it's a motivation too. Different opposition, different competition, an actual crowd - wow - that's awesome even if it's only 5,000 Toulouse fans. We'll be motivated by that and we'll look forward to that challenge."

McFarland is right to be wary of Toulouse's extraordinary firepower. Marshalled by Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack at half-back, the French giants' free-flowing brand of rugby lit up the pool stages.

Dupont and Ntamack are far from the only stars at the Stade Ernest-Wallon though.

The four-time European champions also boast the likes of electrifying Springbok winger Cheslin Kolbe and two-time World Cup winning All Black Jerome Kaino in their ranks, while no player has forced more turnovers than lock Joe Tekori.

In a potential omen, Toulouse warmed up for Sunday's clash with a convincing win over the La Rochelle side coached by former Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes.

Will the famous old French club draw on their history to maintain their march to a fifth crown? Or will Ulster, buoyed by their underdog tag, take a famous scalp?

Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints

Sunday 20 September, 5.15pm

Live Stream – & BT Sport app

TV - BT Sport 3HD & Ultimate

The fourth semi-finalist will be decided on Sunday evening when Exeter Chiefs welcome Premiership rivals Northampton Saints to Sandy Park.

What looked like a daunting task on paper has seemingly turned into mission impossible for the Saints.

The East Midlanders have been ravaged by injuries in the front row leaving them with only one fit loose-head prop in the form of 19-year-old rookie Emmanuel Iyogun.

Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Nick Auterac, Francois van Wyk and Alex Waller have all been sidelined in recent weeks leaving director of rugby Chris Boyd facing the unenviable prospect of uncontested scrums and playing with 14 men.

"This week we'll have some work to do to find a fit team to put out on to the field," director of rugby Chris Boyd said on Sunday.

"In some positions we're getting down pretty thin."

No wins from their first five games since the Premiership restart does not bode well for the Saints, but they will take heart from their opponents’ European woes of recent years.  

This is only Exeter’s second quarter-final in seven seasons. The Chiefs were beaten by Premiership opposition in their last appearance in the last eight too, losing 25-24 to Wasps.

Full-back Stuart Hogg has arrived to add some flair to Chiefs physicality since then and Exeter will be hopeful the 28-year-old is able prove his fitness before Sunday.

The Scotland captain Hogg hurt his hip in a 35-22 victory over Gloucester on Wednesday but the former Glasgow full-back is on track to be in contention.

“Stuart should be fine. He was running yesterday (Saturday) before we left Exeter,” Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said.

“It wasn’t flat out but the fact he’s running already means he should be running by Tuesday or Wednesday.”

While this is largely uncharted territory for the Chiefs, Sunday will be Northampton’s ninth appearance in the last eight of Europe’s top club competition and their first for four years. 

In a dress rehearsal of their last-eight clash, the two sides met at Franklin's Gardens earlier this month where a second-string Chiefs side emerged 22-19 victors.

The Saints will not be afforded the luxury of facing an under-strength Exeter side this weekend however, as the Devonians target a first-ever European crown. 

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