The UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 takes its first steps on Tuesday in Paris and Lisbon, with two big name group winners on the road.
Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are in Portugal to face Benfica at the Estadio da Luz, which is rarely kind to visitors, while the power trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar will hit the Parc des Princes to dance with Paris Saint-Germain.
[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Man City ]
The second legs will both be held on Wednesday, March 8.
Benfica vs. Borussia Dortmund
How they got here: Benfica finished second to Napoli in Group B, and Dortmund edged Real Madrid for the Group F crown.
History: Last met in 1963, when BVB won over two legs in the European Cup. Benfica won the home leg 2-1, so history is on their side (This is a joke).
The plot: Thomas Tuchel’s side has disappointed in the Bundesliga, but BVB has shone brightly in the UCL. He’ll be favored to lead the club past Benfica, though the Águias are anything but a pushover.
The subplot: Globally? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s chances of sticking around BVB will improve if he can accomplish his UCL goals. Locally? USMNT hotshot Christian Pulisic gets his latest chance to shine on the global stage. The 18-year-old has two assists in six UCL matches this season.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona
How they got here: PSG finishes second in Group A, behind Arsenal, while Barcelona won a tricky Group C with Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Celtic.
History: These giants have met up in two recent editions of the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona eliminated PSG on road goals in 2012-13, while Barcelona won three of four when the sides met in the group stage and knockout rounds of the 2014-15 tournament.
The plot: Unai Emery has a major test in old La Liga nemesis Barcelona. The PSG manager was hired by Sevilla for his tournament successes in the Europa League, but the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the French giants in Ligue 1’s second place and that puts a bit more pressure on getting past Barcelona.
Speaking of Barca, the Spanish champions have played two more matches but are still a point back of Real Madrid for the La Liga lead. Pressure on both sides of this tie.
The subplot: Uruguay superstars Edinson Cavani (PSG) and Luis Suarez (Barca) pose problems for defenses, and only one can head to the quarterfinals.