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UEFA Champions League Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Benfica

Paris Saint-Germain host Benfica in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League encounter with both sides bidding to go clear at the top of Group C.

On matchday one, PSG thumped Olympiacos 4-1 in Greece and Benfica sealed a comfortable 2-0 success at home to Anderlecht, so a win for either side will open up a three-point gap and edge them closer to the knockout stages.

Last season saw PSG eliminated in the quarter-finals by Barcelona on away goals, while Benfica came third in a group containing the Spanish giants and Celtic before going on a run to the UEFA Europa League final, where they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea.

The two sides last met two years ago in the Europa League round of 16 in 2010-11, with Benfica winning 3-2 on aggregate.

The only other meetings between the teams came in the same round of the same competition in 2007, and again the Portuguese outfit came out on top, overturning a 2-1 first-leg deficit with a 3-1 victory in Lisbon.

PSG have never lost a home fixture to Portuguese opposition, winning four and drawing two, and Laurent Blanc’s side come into the game full of confidence having yet to taste defeat in Ligue 1 this season.

As reigning French champions, PSG are currently only denied top spot by Monaco on goal difference, having taken five wins and three draws from their opening eight fixtures, conceding just four goals in the process. PSG defeated Toulouse 2-0 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes, with goals from Marquinhos and Edinson Cavani.

Blanc will be without talismanic defender Thiago Silva, who pulled up with a hamstring injury during the 1-1 draw with Monaco earlier this month and is facing six weeks out of action.

Benfica, two-time European champions, have a good recent record against French opposition, with last season’s 3-2 victory in Bordeaux in the Europa League making it four wins in their last five games against Ligue 1 sides.

Domestically, Benfica find themselves five points adrift of leaders Porto after losing further ground at the weekend following a 1-1 home draw with Belenenses.

Bruno Cortez and Nicolas Gaitan both returned from injury in that game so manager Jorge Jesus will have them available as Benfica look to emulate Bayern Munich’s feat in 2012 by reaching the Champions League final in their own stadium.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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