Football: PSG-Barcelona highlights last 16 of Champions League

Edinson Cavani is PSG's big hope when they face Barcelona tomorrow. Photo / AP
Edinson Cavani is PSG's big hope when they face Barcelona tomorrow. Photo / AP

The knockout stage of the Champions League begins this week with Barcelona looking to extend their successful record against Paris Saint-Germain, and defending champions Real Madrid trying to confirm their favouritism over Napoli.

Borussia Dortmund and their record-breaking attack take on Portuguese champion Benfica, while Arsenal face Bayern Munich trying to avoid their seventh-straight elimination in the round of 16.

Bayern, who won the title four years ago, are going for their fourth-consecutive semifinal appearance.

Five-time champion Barcelona eliminated PSG in the quarter-finals in 2013 and 2015, and lost only one of the last six games against the French club in the European competition, in the group stage in 2014.

"No team is unbeatable, but of course for me they are the favourites," PSG striker Lucas said.

"They are the best team in the world, you have to respect them."

It's not just about Paris Saint-Germain stopping Lionel Messi tomorrow. Barcelona also have to find a way to contain Edinson Cavani.

Cavani has scored nine goals in his last six games, and 33 in all competitions this season, which is one more than Messi has. Cavani is well on track to shatter his career-best 38, set with old club Napoli.

Messi and Cavani enter the duel at Parc des Princes as the Champion League's top scorers - Messi with 10 and Cavani with six.

Barcelona have also been able to rely on Messi's teammates Neymar and Luis Suarez, but PSG remain highly dependent on Cavani. Only Brazilian winger Lucas has hit double figures this season aside from Cavani.

In Madrid, the hosts and Napoli will defend unbeaten streaks on Thursday. Real Madrid haven't lost at home in 11 Champions League matches, while Napoli are on an 18-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, one short of the club record.

Germany are waiting for Bayern Munich to show the same dominance they displayed at the start of the season or under previous coach Pep Guardiola.

There is a sense that the freedom afforded to the players by Carlo Ancelotti has allowed complacency to creep in, evident in five laboured performances since the winter break.

Only two very late goals secured a win over relegation-threatened Ingolstadt at the weekend, affording Ancelotti some breathing space. But the Italian knows more lacklustre performances against Arsenal could lead to Bayern's first exit in the round of 16 since 2011.

- AP

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