After two months of hibernation, the UEFA Champions League will resume Tuesday with a pair of round-of-16 games. Paris St. Germain will host Barcelona and Benfica will welcome Borussia Dortmund in first-leg contests that will grab the soccer world’s attention.
Both games will kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, and fans in the U.S. can watch them online at FOXSoccer2Go.
We looked ahead to both matchups in December following the round of 16 draw. Now it’s time to preview them and revise our predictions (if necessary) in light of the last eight weeks, which have included a winter break and plenty of domestic action.
Benfica vs. Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund has a good chance of advancing to the last eight of the Champions League but the German club will need to raise its game against Benfica.
Dortmund occupies fourth place in the Bundesliga (German first division) standings following Saturday’s upset loss to Darmstadt. Dortmund’s recently snapped 10-game unbeaten streak, which began on Nov. 26, looked good at a glance, but its run of two wins in its last five games in all competitions suggests confidence is low. Fans shouldn’t expect a breathtaking performance Tuesday that’s similar to the ones that propelled Dortmund to first place in the group stage.
Benfica has been in fine form since domestic play resumed in late December, winning eight, losing two and drawing one of the 11 games it has played so far in the second half of the season. The Eagles have a slight lead atop the Liga NOS (Portuguese first division) standings, and they’re primed to continue competing on three fronts.
Benfica will be without veteran forward Jonas, whose back injury continues to sideline him. However, red-hot striker Kostas Mitroglou and center back Luisao will be key to Benfica’s plans against Dortmund.
Revised prediction: No change; Benfica 1, Dortmund 1
Paris Saint-German vs. Barcelona
This season’s clash between PSG and Barcelona might lack the sizzle of their recent meetings, but it remains Tuesday’s can’t-miss game.
Second-place PSG trails Monaco by five points in the Ligue 1 (French first division) standings, a gap which horrifies some of its fans, given that they were strolling to the title at this point in previous seasons.
But PSG has been playing well lately, winning ten of its last 11 games in all competitions. This run is largely thanks to the fine form of striker Edinson Cavani, who scored Friday in PSG’s league win over Bordeaux.
Barcelona occupies second place in La Liga (Spanish first division), as Real Madrid threatens to pull away in the domestic title race, but the Champions League title remains firmly within its reach.
Barcelona throttled Alaves 6-0 on Saturday in La Liga. Forwards Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all scored in the rout, and Messi’s superb start to 2017 represents bad news for PSG.
PSG will be without center back Thiago Silva due to an unspecified muscle injury. Midfielder Thiago Motta is suspended for the first leg against Barcelona.
Barcelona will be missing Arda Turan, Javier Mascherano and Aleix Vidal due to groin, hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively.
A special storyline to watch will be the goal-scoring duel between Uruguayan internationals Cavani and Suarez.
Revised prediction: PSG 1, Barcelona 2
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/FOX Soccer
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