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5 things to know about Wednesday's matches in Group C of the Champions League
PARIS - Here are five things to know about Group C of the Champions League, with Paris Saint-Germain playing Anderlecht and Benfica facing Olympiakos on Wednesday:
28 AND COUNTING
The bad news for Anderlecht is that French leader Paris Saint-Germain is unbeaten in its past 28 games.
Worse still for Anderlecht: strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani are in top form after scoring twice each in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Bastia. They each managed one spectacular goal.
PSG's start to its title defence — 24 points from 10 matches — is the best start since Lyon tallied 28 from 10 in the 2006-07 season. The last defeat was 1-0 at Reims on March 2.
Laurent Blanc's team has scored 12 goals and let in only one in the past five games, while Anderlecht has not scored in the group stage so far, losing twice and conceding five goals.
PSG lost only once in the Champions League last season, a 1-0 reverse at FC Porto, and was eliminated by Barcelona on away goals in the quarterfinals after drawing 2-2 and 1-1.
No Paris Saint-Germain fans will be issued tickets on the day or if they try to travel independently amid concerns of a hooligan threat between the two teams.
PSG has contacted Belgian authorities to alert them of the potential menace.
In the 1992-93 season, there were clashes at Parc des Princes when the teams met in a UEFA Cup match.
"You have a hardcore of 150 (Anderlecht hooligans), which can go up depending on how many others follow and reinforcements from Ajax Amsterdam," police commissioner Philippe Boucar told L'Equipe on Tuesday. "There is a bone of contention between the two clubs, rivalry between Belgium and France and other parameters that can increase the tension."
Last season, similarly, PSG warned Croatian authorities that about 100 hooligans were rumoured to be travelling to the match against Dinamo Zagreb. The French Interior Ministry issued a decree banning Dinamo fans from attending the return match — although there was fighting the night before the game between rival thugs in the Bastille area.
Travel restrictions are far less travelling to Brussels than to Zagreb, thus increasing the potential for trouble. Up to 200 PSG thugs are reportedly attempting to travel, according to L'Equipe.
Anderlecht is currently languishing in the Belgian league in fifth place, seven points behind Standard Liege.
With four league losses and two Champions League defeats so far, coach John van den Brom is under intense pressure to turn things around.
"For sure there is apprehension when you host a club as strong as PSG, especially since we didn't take our chances against Benfica and Olympiakos," Anderlecht left back Fabrice N'Sakala told Le Soir. "Any error will be a goal for PSG. I can only hope PSG comes here thinking victory is a foregone conclusion."
It won't be easy for Olympiakos to guess Benfica's starting lineup at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon.
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has used 29 players in the club's 10 official games this season as he continues his effort to get the balance right.
That difficulty is reflected in Benfica's uneven form. It has a 4-2-1 record in the domestic league, where it sits in third place, five points off the lead.
In the Champions League, it beat Anderlecht 2-0 but went down 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain.
The search for consistency reaches a vital stage on Wednesday, with Benfica and Olympiakos locked on three points each.
"The game is important because I'm certain that a place in the next round (behind PSG) will be decided between Benfica and Olympiakos," Jesus said.
Benfica's defence will be focusing on keeping Costas Mitroglou quiet.
The Greece striker is in fine form and has four hat tricks already for club and country this season.
The 25-year-old Greek scored his 10th league goal of the season — in only seven games — in the league leader's 4-1 win at Platanias on Saturday.
In the previous round of games, he scored all three in the 3-0 win at Anderlecht.
Olympiakos' attack is in great form, too, with 20 goals in the past five wins.
Associated Press writers Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.
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