Only four teams will be protecting anything more than a one-goal advantage when the UEFA Europa League round of 32 draws to a conclusion this week.
Six ties are all square following the opening instalments, with English heavyweights Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC returning to home turf having been held 0-0 at Aris Thessaloniki FC and AC Sparta Praha respectively. Villarreal CF will be similarly wary of conceding an away goal when they welcome SSC Napoli, who failed to fire in Naples but are nonetheless flying high in Serie A.
Leaders of their respective top flights, LOSC Lille Métropole and PSV Eindhoven contested a 2-2 draw in France that has left their tie poised for an intriguing climax in the Netherlands. As for Lille's Ligue 1 pursuers Paris Saint-Germain FC, they twice came from behind in Minsk to seize the initiative ahead of FC BATE Borisov's trip to the French capital. Sporting Clube de Portugal also know a clean sheet on home turf will suffice, Matías Fernández's 89th-minute goal having earned them a 1-1 draw against Rangers FC at Ibrox.
Sporting's eternal Portuguese Liga rivals SL Benfica are likewise hopeful of extending their European campaign, though the Lisbon giants will be wary of what lies in wait. A 2-1 comeback win at home against VfB Stuttgart edged them ahead of the Bundesliga outfit but also left them with plenty of work still to do in Germany. Travelling to north-west Portugal, meanwhile, will be KKS Lech Poznań, late 1-0 victors at home against SC Braga last Thursday.
Russian Premier League big-hitters FC Spartak Moskva and FC Zenit St Petersburg have differing tasks awaiting them at home to Swiss opposition, with Valeri Karpin's team 3-2 to the good against FC Basel 1893 and Russian Premier League titleholders Zenit trailing BSC Young Boys 2-1. PFC CSKA Moskva commence the week's action on Tuesday buoyed by their 1-0 win at PAOK FC, before FC Porto host Sevilla FC on Wednesday with a 2-1 advantage to defend.
Far more assured of their places in the round of 16 are Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Dynamo Kyiv, who struck four goals apiece away against respective opponents FC Metalist Kharkiv and Beşiktaş JK. AFC Ajax, meanwhile, have a 3-0 lead to protect at home to RSC Anderlect, with Eredivisie rivals FC Twente also in rude health following a 2-0 victory at FC Rubin Kazan.
Click here to see who the victors in each tie will face in the round of 16.
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