3 things to look out for as the Champions League returns

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Hot on the heels of one of the biggest Premier League Sunday’s of recent memory, Champions League football returns to keep the high-class action flowing.

The first round-of-16 games takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Here’s three talking points to watch out for from the first night’s matches:

Chelsea v PSG III

For the third straight season, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain do battle in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The Blues snuck through on away goals in the first encounter two campaigns ago, thanks to a late Demba Ba strike.

Last term, though, the Frenchmen got revenge by the same method, albeit after extra time in the second leg.

Ahead of the third instalment, Laurent Blanc’s side are cruising to another Ligue 1 title, leading the division as they are by 25 points. By contrast, the Stamford Bridge side are 20 off the top of their own division, but will that gap ring true on the pitch?

Are Zenit the dark horses of the competition?

The Russian outfit, managed by Andre Villa-Boas, won all bar one of their group games in the competition before drawing Benfica out of the hat for the last 16.

Ladbrokes make them 12/5 to win the first leg in Portugal and 50/1 outsiders to lift the coveted trophy, however, could just be the surprise package of the competition this season.

The Gazprom-owned outfit beat both Valencia and Lyon home and away during the group phase, so should feel extremely confident of bettering their Portuguese opponents to book their first ever trip to the Champions League quarter finals.

A game for Fulham fans to miss

While the Cottagers struggle to keep their heads above water in the Championship, one of their strikers will be taking their field in Europe’s premier club competition.

Kostas Mitroglou is still owned by Fulham and is currently on loan at Benfica, where he has scored 13 league and two Champions League goals in 25 combined outings.

The Londoners may argue that they don’t actually need Mitroglou, with Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele both sat inside the top 10 of the league’s scoring charts, but there’s no doubt watching the Greek play for the Portuguese side will be a painful experience.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.