Benfica v Borussia Dortmund preview: Germans look to return to winning ways
Last Updated: 14/02/17 8:49pm
Borussia Dortmund head to Benfica in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Darmstadt.
The German club sit fourth in the Bundesliga table, 15 points behind leaders Bayern Munich who have won eight of their last nine league games.
Dortmund travel to Portugal to face a Benfica side who are one point clear of Porto at the top of the Primeira Liga table.
However, the Portuguese outfit have endured a torrid run against German sides in Europe, winning just one of their last 15 matches (D5 L9).
Benfica reached the last 16 after finishing second behind Napoli in Group B, while Dortmund impressed in Group F after beating Real Madrid to top spot.
Ederson is available for the hosts after being sent off against Arouca. However, Andrija Zivkovic is suspended.
For the visitors, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek travelled to Portugal after missing the Darmstadt loss through injury.
Ousmane Dembele and Marco Reus also made the trip following recent knocks but Mario Gotze was a notable absentee with a muscular injury.
Borussia Dortmund eliminated Benfica in the 1963/64 European Cup first round, their only previous encounter. They lost 2-1 in the first leg, but won 5-0 in Germany to win the tie.
Benfica have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second season in a row - this hadn't happened before for the Lisbon side.
Borussia Dortmund have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages in each of their last four participations, finishing top on each occasion.
Borussia Dortmund are one of six teams yet to suffer a defeat in the Champions League this season (W4 D2). They won both games earlier this season against another Lisbon side, Sporting (2-1 in Portugal, 1-0 at home).
However, Dortmund have lost six of their last eight games in the Champions League knockout stages (W2).
Meanwhile, Benfica have lost only one of their seven home games in the Champions League knockout stages (W3 D3), it was against Chelsea in March 2012 (0-1).
Borussia Dortmund scored 21 goals in the group stages this season, the record in a Champions League group campaign, while Benfica conceded 10 goals, the joint-highest tally among teams left in the competition.
Dortmund sprung back into a bit of life after the winter break with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, although they slipped up again at the weekend so you'd imagine the Champions League has become their real priority.
Benfica are having a strange season as well as they struggled through the group stage, but they are still competing for their title and are always tough to beat at home.
Ousmane Dembele looks a real prospect for the visitors. He's a raw athletic talent and he'll enjoy the Champions League because it should be more open and he's getting quite closely marked in the Bundesliga.
With Real Madrid's eyes fixed on a new striker, Aubameyang will be out to prove he's the man to replace Karim Benzema and should be the difference between these two sides.
Dortmund are Sky Bet's 6/5 favourites to establish a first-leg lead, with Benfica up against odds of 9/4, while the draw is priced at 12/5. The visitors are 12/1 sixth favourites in the outright, while their hosts are the joint longest priced side of those left the competition at 100/1.
Aubameyang heads the first goalscorer market at 100/30, while Kostas Mitroglou and Jonas share favouritism on the hosts' side of the market at 5/1 apiece. Aubameyang is enhanced from 7/2 to 13/2 to bag a brace in Sky Bet's pre-match Price Boosts, which also make Dembele available at 10/1, from 6/1, to score first.
Find out what the Soccer Saturday pundits and Jamie Redknapp are predicting in their Sky Bet tips here.