CAN Dortmund overturn their 1-0 first leg deficit against Benfica on Wednesday in the second leg of their Last 16 Champions League tie? We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) for his best selection.
Borussia Dortmund v Benfica | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport
Only nine (30%) of 30 clubs have recovered from a 1-0 away loss in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie to progress but Borussia Dortmund can enhance that record by ousting Benfica at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday.
The Germans are narrow 5/6 favourites with BetBright and are well worth backing having dominated the first fixture in Lisbon on Valentine’s night, wining the shot count 14-5 and conceding with Benfica’s only effort on-target.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suffered a rare off-night in front of goal, missing a penalty as well as two gilt-edged chances before being substituted on hour mark. Dortmund enjoyed 70% possession whilst their expected goals return sat at 2.72 compared to Benfica’s 0.79.
Dortmund in fine form
Despite the setback, the Black & Yellows have been in fine form during 2017 (W5-D4-L1) and registering a trio of victories on the spin by three-goal margins since losing in Portugal. Those three triumphs arrived by 3-0, 3-0 and 6-2 wins.
Thomas Tuchel’s troops endured a choppy first half of the campaign but it was entirely predictable having lost influential centre-half Mats Hummels, midfield dynamo Ilkay Gundogan and goalscoring midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan during the summer of 2016.
Aubameyang’s performed admirably in attack and he’s been superbly assisted by the addition of 19-year-old Ousmane Dembele. The ex-Rennes man has notched seven goals and 14 assists across the Bundesliga and Champions League whilst the growing influence of Julian Weigl in central midfield can’t be discounted.
BVB missing their magician
There is a caveat, mind. Dortmund will be without magician Marco Reus following his weekend injury. His absence is an obvious blow but I’m still happy to back the hosts at the prices available.
Reus was unavailable for both group-games against Real Madrid, as well as the home Bundesliga encounter with Bayern Munich – BVB W2-D1-L0 of those outings and so it would be doing the Dortmund squad a disservice to suggests progression hinged on his involvement.
The Germans have qualified in eight of their 15 European ties when trailing from a first leg defeat and their formidable Westfalenstadion record should stand Tuchel’s troops in great stead for the second leg.
Formidable home record
Dortmund haven’t lost at home all season and racked up 41 goals across those 17 games. Tuchel’s only defeat in continental competition here came when fielding a reserve XI against PAOK having already progressed from their Europa League pool last season (W8-D2-L1).
What’s more, BVB have suffered only two home losses in 48 since April 2015 – the other a DFB Pokal encounter with Wolfsburg – with 35 of those matches ending in home victories; on 34 occasions the hosts scored at least twice.
Benfica’s less than impressive progress
After an initial rocky ride in 2017, Benfica appear to have found their feet once more. The Eagles allowed a six-point advantage at the top of the Primera Liga in January to be reduced to one but Rui Vitoria’s men have since churned our seven successive victories across all competitions.
The Lisbon-based club are dreaming of a third quarter-final in six seasons of Champions League football but the visitors reached the Last 16 having collected fewer group-stage points than any qualifier and progressed with a negative goal difference. In fact, six of their eight-point tally came against Dynamo Kiev.
There are also concerns over Benfica’s ability to produce the goods on their travels. Four of the Eagles’ five defeats this term have come on the road and their European record is mediocre at best over recent campaigns (W4-D5-L10) – in the knockout stages it reduces to W1-D0-L3.
Back Benfica to score
The Portuguese club conceded seven goals at Napoli and Besiktas during the group-stage but did manage to net twice in all three pool fixtures so there could be mileage in backing Benfica to grab a goal during defeat.
Dortmund have leaked in all bar two of their seven Champions League outings this term and the Eagles have netted in 33 of their 34 outings in 2016/17. And in Kostas Mitroglou the visitors have a striker that’s notched five goals across his four matches, as well as 18 goals in his past 17 appearances.
With that in mind, I’m going to throw a dart at Dortmund to win and Both Teams To Score at 41/20 (BetStars) which should give us something excited to cheer on alongside the To Qualify selection here. With BVB pushing forward, it’s entirely plausible for the Portuguese outfit to grab a goal.
I’m aware Benfica have only three of 24 away Champions League dates since 2010 by two-goals or more but Dortmund should have sealed the deal in Lisbon and a repeat of that performance should ultimately sentence the Eagles to elimination here.
Borussia Dortmund v Benfica – Borussia Dortmund to qualify (5/6 BetBright)
Borussia Dortmund v Benfica – Borussia Dortmund to win and Both Teams To Score (41/20 BetStars)