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UCL Preview: PSG-Chelsea, Benfica-Zenit kick off round of 16 matches


Almost one year ago, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea played in one of the most intriguing and intense UEFA Champions League round of 16 battles.

Fast forward to 2016, the pair of European heavyweights kick off in the same round once again on Tuesday.

PSG, which has been unstoppable in domestic competition during the 2015-16 season, enters Tuesday’s match on an impressive 23-game unbeaten streak. Chelsea, on the other hand, has struggled in the English Premier League this campaign, but has looked much better since interim head coach Guus Hiddink took charge in December.

In Tuesday’s other contest, a talented Benfica side will look to take advantage of Zenit, which has not played a competitive game in months.

Here’s a closer look at Tuesday’s UCL round of 16 matchups:

Benfica vs. Zenit, at Estádio da Luz, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2/Fox Deportes

While one club is still moving through its winter break, the other is entering Tuesday’s contest having just had its 11-game win streak snapped on Sunday.

Fresh off the heels of defeat to rival FC Porto, Benfica hosts Zenit. The Russian club has not played a competitive game in two months and has had its ups and downs in league play, but still has talent to cause the Portuguese side concern.

Zenit, which has never progressed past the round of 16, has a couple of players in Javi Garcia and Ezequiel Garay who have previously played with Benfica. The pair helped Zenit to a pair of wins over their former club during the 2014-15 UCL competition, and will be hoping to perform the same deed this year.

Benfica’s stars to keep an eye on are Portuguese Primeira Liga’s leading goal-scorer Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira and dynamic Greek international Konstantinos Mitroglou.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea, at Parc des Princes, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1/ESPN Deportes TV

Statistics say PSG should dominate this series, but numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Last year, neither PSG nor Chelsea could win a game in the series, as the Ligue 1 club advanced via the away-goals rule after scoring twice at Stamford Bridge in the second leg. This time around, PSG appears to be the heavy favorite, especially since striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, midfielder Thiago Motta and centerback Thiago Silva were all rested by head coach Laurent Blanc over the weekend. Talented midfielder Marco Verratti also returned from injury and is ready to play if need be.

Hiddink’s Chelsea is unbeaten this season, having not lost a league game in their previous 10. Striker Diego Costa is on a run of good form at the moment as well, scoring twice in the Blues past two games. On a more sour note for Chelsea, centerback John Terry will not travel with the club, as he attempts to recover from a hamstring injury.

PSG also has yet to concede a goal at home during this UCL campaign, and Costa has not had the best track record of scoring in European competition. The Spanish international has only netted one UCL goal in his previous 14 appearances.

What do you think of Tuesday’s two matchups? Who do you think will win each game?

Share your thoughts below.

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