By Antony Jordan
Wednesday night will see the second set of last 16 stage Champions League matches come to a close and we’ll find who will book their places in the Quarter Finals. The two first leg matches featuring the four sides playing this evening did not go as many planned as Barcelona were beaten 4-0 in Paris by PSG and Borussia Dortmund could not get past the outstanding Ederson Moraes in the Benfica goal as they were beaten 1-0 in Portugal.
Can the two sides that were expected to progress to the final eight state of the Champions League come back from their first leg defeats? We preview both of the second leg clashes with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our top Champions League picks.
No side has ever come back from a four goal deficit in the Champions League knockout stages to secure their passage to the next phase of the competition and the last time that Barcelona were beaten by this scoreline in the semi-finals of the 2012/13 competition they were beaten 3-0 on home soil to lose 7-0 to Bayern Munich. They have a lot of work to do if they are to secure victory in this second leg, let alone avoid being dumped out of the competition so early on.
Barcelona have won two and drawn one of their three home matches against PSG since 2013 in the Champions League, but things are very much different this time around as the 4-0 in Paris was the first time that PSG had defeated Barcelona in their history. They did so in a dominate fashion too with Barcelona limited to just six shots and just a single one on target, now they do not have to attack in this second leg as they know that they can just pick their hosts off to secure passage to the last eight.
With Barcelona winning all four matches since losing to PSG three weeks ago but keeping just a single clean sheet – and having just three shutouts in eight on home soil in 2017 – but knowing that they must push from the first whistle if they’re to get back in this match we feel that there will be chances for the French side to find the net. PSG have won all eight away matches in all competitions in 2017, keeping five clean sheets, and we can see them once again having Barcelona’s number as they did in the first leg thanks to their resolute defence.
Unlike Barcelona who played second fiddle to PSG for the entirety of their first leg match in Paris, Borussia Dortmund can count themselves unfortunate to have ended on the losing side of their first leg match as they came up against a goalkeeper in world class form. They had 64% of the possession in Portugal and took ten more shots than their hosts, but the Benfica stopper kept his side in the match with some wonder saves and keeping out a poor penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Another performance like this will surely result in them getting the goals they need to triumph, but the question remains can they breach the final level of the Benfica defence?
Dortmund have bounced back from their first leg loss with some excellent form that has seen them net 12 times in three matches, including defeating Bayer Leverkusen 6-2 at the weekend, and with them not having suffered a defeat on home soil all season we can see why they are the big favourites to triumph in this second meeting of these sides in three weeks.
Benfica are no slouches either and they have won all of their last seven matches in all competitions and they have done so by keeping five clean sheets. They have not been as strong on the road as at home, but they do have three wins in a row away from home to their name before this vital game, but with just one win in Europe on their travels this season and seven goals conceded against Napoli and Besiktas means that we can see them suffering a loss in this game. They do not have the buffer that PSG have against Barcelona so they will need to fight for everything in this game and we cannot see this happening unless Ederson Moraes once again has a standout performance. We do not see Dortmund letting this match slip this time around and we’re backing a comfortable win for the home side.