- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

If the past two seasons are anything to go by, prepare for some drama and late goals at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain meet in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

This is the third straight year the clubs have met in the knockout stage and it took the away-goals rule to separate them on the two previous occasions. In the quarterfinals in 2014, Chelsea only advanced because of Demba Ba’s 87th-minute goal that sealed a 2-0 win in the second leg while Thiago Silva’s header late in extra time put 10-man PSG through from the round of 16 last year.

It promises to be just as close this time too after PSG’s 2-1 win in the first leg in Paris.

The match is shaping up to be more crucial for Chelsea, which will need to win the Champions League to get back in Europe’s top competition next season. While PSG is the runaway leader of the French league, Chelsea is in 10th place in the English Premier League and 10 points off the top four despite being unbeaten since Jose Mourinho was fired in December and replaced by Guus Hiddink.

“In December, we were near the relegation zone (in the Premier League),” Hiddink said, “to get to the middle of the table and now have a beautiful March and April to look forward to with the Champions League and the FA Cup would be nice.”

Chelsea striker Diego Costa should be fit despite a recent tendon problem but captain John Terry is struggling to prove his fitness after three weeks out with a hamstring injury.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc is hopeful Blaise Matuidi (thigh) and Marco Verratti (groin), two key players in midfield, will recover in time for the trip to London. If Verratti doesn’t make it, Javier Pastore - who excelled for PSG’s 10 men at Stamford Bridge last year - is expected to fill in.

A look at the other matches being played this week:



Real Madrid hosts Roma on Tuesday with a 2-0 lead from the first leg and filled with confidence after a 7-1 thrashing of Celta Vigo in the Spanish league.

The home win was important in restoring the fans’ trust following a 1-0 loss to rival Atletico Madrid a week ago, when Real supporters loudly jeered the team and called for the resignation of club president Florentino Perez. Another setback at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend would have increased the pressure going into the game against Roma.

Roma is coming off three consecutive wins by two or more goals, which is what will be needed to remain alive in the Champions League.

“We know it’s not going to be easy,” Roma forward Diego Perotti said. “We’ll have to play our game and make sure we don’t leave them any space in behind because they can hurt you on the counter. But we’re going there to go for it.”



Wolfsburg is hoping to avoid any further lapses in concentration after allowing Gent back into their last-16 match by conceding two late goals in a 3-2 win for the German side in the first leg in Belgium.

“We can’t just defend our lead but should be offensive and score at least one goal,” Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels said.

Wolfsburg has been unconvincing of late, going seven league games without a win before Saturday’s 2-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Neither team had reached the Champions League knockout stage before this season. Gent is making its debut in the competition.



Benfica travels to Russia with a 1-0 advantage over Zenit St. Petersburg thanks to Jonas’ injury-time winner in Lisbon.

The Portuguese team is on a four-game winning streak and stopped Zenit at the same stage of the competition in 2012.

Meanwhile, Zenit has struggled since coming back from a two-month winter break as it bids for a first Champions League quarterfinal.

The Russian champion needed extra time last week to earn its only win in three games since the winter hiatus, beating Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian Cup.

Due to the arcane UEFA coefficient system, the match could be crucial in determining whether Portugal or Russia gets a third Champions League spot from the 2017-18 season.



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