IT seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the resumption of the Champions League and it’s back with a bang as PSG face Chelsea and Benfica take on Zenit St Petersburg.
PSG were underdogs when they beat the Blues last season but are 4-6 favourites to qualify with Coral and 8-11 at McBookie to take a lead to Stamford Bridge.
French football is so weak PSG already have the title wrapped up and they rested stars such as Zlatan Ibrahmovic for the 0-0 weekend draw against Lille.
Chelsea remain unbeaten under Guus Hiddink but it’s six wins and six draws so if the Swedish superstar – 27 goals in 32 games – is on form he could make a difference.
There should be goals whatever way you look at it. PSG right-back Serge Aurier won’t feature after verbally savaging his team-mates and David Luiz isn’t fully fit. Chelsea also have problems in defence with Kurt Zouma ruled out and John Terry doubtful.
Back both teams to score at 6-5 with William Hill looks a good shout and I’ll be on Ibrahimovic to net at 11-10 with bet365.
The other tie is also between teams who met last season with Zenit winning home and away in the group stages.
Benfica’s winning run ended last Friday with a home defeat to Porto while the Russians are disadvantaged by the fact their last competitive match was their final one in the group stage against Gent in December.
Russian teams always have this problem but should know how to handle it by now and Zenit have warmed up with four friendlies including Atlantic Cup clashes in Portugal, winning three and drawing with Orebro.
Zenit boss has a remarkable record against Benfica, winning on his last four visits to Lisbon with his Porto and his current side, so the match will hold no fears for him.
Benfica’s last five matches in the CL have saw both teams score and that’s the bet for me again at 13-12 with 888sport.
To qualify Benfica are 6-5 with Coral but I’m on Zenit who are 4-5 with Paddy Power. I don’t know if they’ll win in Portugal but a draw would suit them just fine.
Benfica are 23-20 with William Hill and bet365 to carve out a first-leg advantage with Zenit 29-20 at bet365 with the draw 12-5 with Betfred. Zenit can avoid defeat and on the draw no bet market they are 17-10 with McBookie.
Jonas provides Benfica’s biggest goal threat and is 5-1 at Coral to score first while for Zenit it’s Hulk who is 7-1 at McBookie and others.
PSG v Chelsea both teams to score
(6-5, William Hill)
Ibrahimovic to score
Benfica v Zenit both teams to score