The pressure of being the reigning champions can weight heavy on any team.

You're there to be shot at and whilst you've proven how good you can be, everyone else dreams of knocking you off that perch.

It's become a particularly cumbersome weight to last year's Euroleague winners Maccabi Tel Aviv, who've lost two of their last three games and that including a humbling defeat to a team that sat bottom of Group E in Crvena Zvezda Telecom Belgrade.

They've been going backwards lately, having started so strongly and whilst they still have a talented team, they'll have a tough time this week when they take on FC Barcelona in Spain.

Barca have been resurgent of late having won their last three games, they haven't lost at home in the Top 16 stage and have lost just once at the Palau Blaugraba throughout the Euroleague competition.

It's hard to see Tel Aviv getting anything at the moment, it's a big test and Barcelona will be desperate to hold onto second place against a close rival.

Back the Spaniards to win this one at 7/20 and solidify their playoff credentials.

Another intriguing contest on Thursday also comes from the Spanish shores as Real Madrid look to seal a place in the next round as they take on a plucky ALBA Berlin side.

Madrid have been on an unstoppable run, having lost just once in the Top 16 and even then, it was by just four points.

They've proven that they're an offensive powerhouse, ranking first in scoring, assists and three-point percentage so it'll be a difficult ask for ALBA to put up a realistic challenge.

However, they've been very competitive against the supposedly bigger sides recently, having beaten Tel Aviv and forcing Barcelona into over-time, but this might be a bridge too far.

Madrid should do just enough to qualify, go for them to win at 1/20 and continue on a roll that doesn't seem to be stalling.

Friday night sees a titanic clash between the top two in Group F face off in Greece, with Olympiacos Piraeus hosting Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul.

Olympiacos have been strong the past few weeks, helped by the fact they have the best defence in the Top 16 and a win will see them seal a playoff berth.

It'll be a tough ask against a Fenerbahce team that can't stop winning on the road,  having won their last eight away and they also boast the best defence for any team on their travels.

It'll be a very close call but take Fenerbahce to show just how good they are away from home and for Olympiacos to put their celebrations on ice for another week at least.