The knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League fixtures are tonight and a lot of entertainment is expected as we should see some feisty encounters coming into this one.
Benfica host Zenit in this exciting encounter in the UEFA Champions League in some exciting scoring form scoring 19 goals in their last 5 games. Their offensive efforts have been lead by Jonas, Mitoroglu, Pizzi and Gaitan. They have managed to turn on the screws netting 60 goals in 22 encounter in their league. In the group stage games Benfica netted a goal in every single game while scoring 2 goals in 4 out of the 6 games. Defensively in Europe, they have shown to be vulnerable leaking goals in 5 out of the last 6 games, which would be something that might hamper them from progressing to the next round. They played against their arch-rivals Porto in front of their home fans and also lost by a score of 1-2. Their defensive stalwart and club captain Luisao is a definite absence from this game while Rebocho, Santos, Fejsa and Lisandro López will also be missing.
Zenit have not been playing really competitive football since their last Champions League encounter which was a 2-1 loss to Gent in the meaningless last group game. Zenit player well in their group, topping it on the way to 5 wins from 6 games during that time. Zenit scored 2 goals in every encounter during the group stage except for 1 only in that loss to Gent. They have shown lapses in concentration defensively leaking goals in 4 out of the 6 games played during that time. The big issue for Zenit will be the absence of really competitive football which could lead to lapses at the back but they are at least familiar with the surrounding having been playing some football against Scandinavian sides in Portugal; as they have been sitting there since 1st of February.
This game promises to be a feisty one just like they were in least years encounters group stage encounters with Zenit won, but the onus and momentum is equally balanced especially with Benfica in playing form. I expect both teams to score and provide us some solid entertainment as a performance in Portugal will be key before moving to play in cold Russia in 2 weeks time.
PSG host Chelsea in another exciting encounter especially after the side from the French Capital have not dropped a single game in their domestic league while only losing 1 game to Real Madrid during their UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign. The form that PSG has shown led by Ibrahimovic, Cavan and Di Maria have lead them to good success and progressing in the Champions League has been the primary aim of the Qatari owners for this competition. PSG have been in great scoring form with the exception of the game against Real Madrid, on average they have been knocking in around 2 goals per game especially in their last 7 games before this weekends dull 0-0 draw with Lille.
Chelsea will be looking forward to renewing ties against PSG and have some good momentum on their side having not lost a single game under Guus Hiddink since he has been in-charge in November and will feel confident about grabbing a result out of this encounter. The 5 goal effort against Newcastle should go someway to build the confidence of the players as they will aim to try and get on the offensive early on against PSG. With Diego Costa back to his scoring ways along with Willian they have enough support in midfield but Eden Hazard will need to turn on a performance against prospective employers PSG who are rumoured to be looking to sign him. Defensively is where the horror show for Chelsea has been leaking goals unnecessary against with teams scoring against them in 5 out of their last 7 games. The pace of PSG will look to test their defence out a lot tonight with the slower Cahill and liability Ivanovic excepted to play in the centre of the park.
These 2 sides met 4 times over the previous 2 Champions League campaigns with 2 goals scored at minimum in all those 4 encounters. We have seen both teams scoring in 3 out of those 4 games. PSG actually went through on away goals last season against Chelsea and Chelsea will have a bit of revenge on their mind. PSG know that they have the opportunity to take on this weakened Chelsea lineup and score goals, so I am going with goals to be a key feature of this encounter.