Simon Hofmann/Getty Images
February 13, 2017
The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday, as Borussia Dortmund visit Benfica in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash.
BVB finished ahead of La Liga giants Real Madrid during the group stages, but the Germans have struggled for form of late. Benfica sit atop the Portuguese league and tend to make life hard on top clubs, so Tuesday’s fixture should be a good one.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming match.
Date: Tuesday, February 14
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT
Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
TV Info: BT Sport 3 (UK), Fox Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: BT Sport app, Fox Soccer 2Go
Mario Gotze, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek all missed the 2-1 Bundesliga loss to Darmstadt on Saturday, and there was a scare when at first it seemed star youngster Ousmane Dembele also didn’t travel.
As shared by Bundesliga writer Lars Pollmann, manager Thomas Tuchel later clarified things:
Lars Pollmann @LarsPollmann
Dembele’s late arrival not injury-related, he was in France for his father’s funeral. https://t.co/hBD2Njy5sA
2/11/2017, 5:07:56 PM
All apart from Dembele remain doubts, while the likes of Nuri Sahin and Sebastian Rode have been out with long-term injuries, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
For Benfica, Lisandro Lopez remains sidelined, while Alex Grimaldo wasn’t registered for the Champions League. Andrija Zivkovic is suspended.
Possible Benfica XI: Ederson Moraes, Eliseu, Victor Lindelof, Luisao, Nelson Semedo, Andre Carrillo, Pizzi, Ljubomir Fejsa, Franco Cervi, Kostas Mitroglou, Jonas
Possible BVB XI: Roman Burki, Matthias Ginter, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Dzenis Burnic, Christian Pulisic, Julian Weigl, Raphael Guerreiro, Erik Durm, Ousmane Dembele, Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
All is not well with Dortmund, who have won just one of their last three Bundesliga matches and are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Darmstadt―still ranked last in the Bundesliga and winless in the league in 2017 until that match.
While Die Schwarzgelben are not yet in crisis mode, Pollmann believes the future of Tuchel isn’t clear at this point:
Lars Pollmann @LarsPollmann
He’s definitely gone if they don’t make the Champions League I think, and could be gone regardless of what happens the rest of the season.
2/11/2017, 4:37:14 PM
Some positivity is sorely needed, and a big win in the Champions League would do the trick. BVB haven’t been particularly consistent this season, but at their best, they remain an entertaining squad that is capable of beating Benfica.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains the main goal threat, but Dembele has been the breakout performer of the year so far, and the squad has quickly grown reliant on his flashes of brilliance.
Per WhoScored.com, his ability to create is remarkable:
Ousmane Dembélé: Has created more clear-cut chances (10) than any other player in the Bundesliga this season #bvb https://t.co/xYI3BqtgCB
2/11/2017, 12:00:02 PM
He and his team-mates face a stiff test against a disciplined Benfica defence that features top talent expected to move to bigger clubs during the summer. Victor Lindelof was linked with Manchester United throughout January, per The Sun‘s Tom Sheen, and Nelson Semedo is also regarded as a future star.
Up front, Jonas and Kostas Mitroglou are a proven duo with bags of experience at European level. The former hasn’t been as productive as he was last season, but the two still play well off each other and are always a threat.
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images
Benfica’s form hasn’t been spectacular, but at home against a struggling BVB outfit, the Portuguese side should find some success.
Prediction: Benfica 1-1 Borussia Dortmund