5 things to know about Group C of Champions League
Here are five things to know ahead of Tuesday’s Group C matches
in the Champions League, with leader Paris Saint-Germain visiting
Benfica and Olympiakos hosting bottom-placed Anderlecht:
A SLIGHT EDGE
Olympiakos hopes to qualify for the knockout phase of the
Champions League for the first time since the 2009-10 season. The
Greek side needs to match Benfica’s result on Tuesday to go
Benfica and Olympiakos are level on points. However, Olympiakos
has a better head-to-head record against the Portuguese club
following a 1-0 home win in November. That result followed a 1-1
draw between the sides in Lisbon.
”It’s all up to us, as it is not the case for Benfica,”
Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez Gago told the club’s website.
”That’s a great asset for us.”
Olympiakos finished third in Group B last season.
LIFE WITHOUT MITROGLOU
Olympiakos will miss striker Kostas Mitroglou, who became the
first Greek to score a hat trick in the Champions League when
Olympiakos thrashed Anderlecht 3-0 in October.
Mitroglou picked up a right knee injury in the 2-1 loss to Paris
Saint-Germain two weeks ago. He helped Greece qualify for the 2014
World Cup by scoring three goals in the playoffs against Romania
Olympiakos will likely start Argentine striker Javier Saviola,
who was rested last weekend.
Despite Mitroglou’s absence last weekend, Olympiakos beat
Asteras Tripolis 2-0 Saturday to extend its lead to eight points at
the top of the Greek league.
HOME SWEET HOME
Benfica will need to better Olympiakos’ result on Tuesday when
they entertain PSG. The Portuguese side is undefeated at the
Stadium of Light in its last eight European games.
PSG may be the toughest team in the group, but Benfica has won
its previous matches against the French side in Lisbon. Benfica
beat PSG 3-1 in the 2006-07 UEFA Cup and 2-1 in the 2010-11 Europa
”It will be a very hot atmosphere,” Benfica goalkeeper Artur
told the UEFA website. ”Our fans will certainly come in large
numbers. I believe it will be sold out, because we are going well
in the Portuguese league, and now in the Champions League we need
the support of our fans. With them we can advance to the next
Benfica finished third in Group G last season but went on to
reach the Europa League final. It last advanced to the knockout
phase of the Champions League in 2011-12.
Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo has missed his team’s last four
games because of a back injury and is doubtful for Tuesday. The
Portuguese club will need a greater contribution from the other
forwards to have a chance against PSG.
Brazilian striker Lima and Spanish forward Rodrigo have scored
three goals each in the last three matches while summer signing
Miralem Sulejmani has struggled with fitness problems this season
and has not found the net yet.
Paris Saint-Germain couldn’t care less about its last game in
the group stage. The French club will finish top of Group C
whatever the result of its match against Benfica in Portugal.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc is now more focused on the French league
and left Alex, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the
”The French league is our goal for the end of this year since
we got the job done in the Champions League,” Blanc told a news
conference. ”I’ll try to start the best lineup for the games in
the French league in order to take points.”
Ibrahimovic’s absence comes as a relief for Benfica. The Sweden
striker has scored 21 goals in all competitions for PSG this
season, including two in the 3-0 win over Benfica in Paris in
PSG will miss Dutch fullback Gregory Van der Wiel and Italian
midfielder Marco Verratti through suspension in Lisbon. It leads
the French league but is under pressure from Monaco and Lille.
Associated Press writers Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Derek
Gatopoulos in Athens contributed to this report.