Four German sides are out to extend their stay in the UEFA Europa League this season. But how will the Bundesliga's representatives fare in the second legs on Thursday?
Porto vs. Borussia Dortmund (Agg: 0-2)
Pros: Borussia Dortmund are in control of the tie after dominating the Portuguese side at home. Thomas Tuchel managed to rest key players at Leverkusen on Sunday. Ilkay Gundogan is back after injury, and perhaps we will see more of Nuri Sahin who returned after a year out against Porto last week. Tuchel's side have gathered momentum since the loss at Cologne in December. If the Germans can carry that into the UEFA Europa League, there won't be many teams capable of stopping them. The record books would suggest the impetus is with the visitors: Dortmund have only lost a tie once after winning the home leg. An away goal means Porto need to score four to progress.
Cons: Porto are undoubtedly a Champions League standard side, though. Yacinie Brahimi and others underperformed in Germany and will be out to right their wrongs. After trouncing Bayern Munich 3-1 last season at home, Dortmund have to be wary until the last whistle. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is missing at center-back and will probably be replaced by either Sven Bender or Neven Subotic.
Verdict: Dortmund will continue towards the final in Basel. RD
Liverpool vs. Augsburg (Agg: 0-0)
Pros: A clean sheet at home was illustration that Augsburg can keep Jürgen Klopp's side at bay. The 1-0 win at Hannover on Saturday eased relegation worries and ended a streak of five without a win. Head coach Markus Weinzierl has beat Bayern Munich twice in the Bundesliga and masterminded this phenomenal European run. More tactical ingenuity wouldn't be out of the question. Anfield has a romantic feel about it on a European night, but Augsburg will need something momentous to secure a place in the round of 16. An early away goal would also put them in a fantastic position to qualify.
Cons: Klopp's team are off the back of a 6-0 win at Aston Villa. Augsburg have been wildly inconsistent this season in Europe and in the Bundesliga. The spine of the team is missing: Jan Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Jeong-Ho Hong, Daniel Baier, Jan Moravek are all injured, while talisman Raul Bobadilla is a serious doubt.
Verdict: Not impossible, but close enough to it. Liverpool to win. RD
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Sporting Lisbon (Agg: 1-0)
Pros: Leverkusen will undoubtedly go into this tie liking their chances with an important away goal from the first leg. Roger Schmidt's side will be able to rely on the services of star striker Javier Hernandez, who missed the first leg, and can boast about an undefeated home record in Europe this season.
Cons: The Bundesliga side will be without Omer Toprak and Kevin Kampl, after both players picked up injuries in the club's 1-0 defeat to Dortmund on Sunday. Toprak has been a constant in Schmidt's side when health has permitted, while Kampl has provided five assists and two goals this season. Sporting have also won four of their last five away games in all competitions.
Verdict: Leverkusen comfortable home win and progression. SB
Schalke vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Agg: 0-0)
Pros: The Royal Blues tend to enjoy themselves at the Veltins Arena, with an undefeated record in this season's Europa League as well as a home run in the Bundesliga which has seen them lose just one of their last six games. Shakhtar will also be without key defender Olexandr Kucher after his red card in the first leg and have yet to win an away game in European competition this season. They still clearly miss Alex Teixeira, Douglas Costa and Luiz Adriano.
Cons: Andre Breitenreiter will be without forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting after he limped off in Sunday's win over Stuttgart, as well as, Leon Goretzka, while key playmaker Max Meyer missed training on Tuesday. Although the Bundesliga side did well to keep a clean sheet in the first leg, they'll have to be at their best to stop their Ukrainian opponents from grabbing a vital away goal on Thursday. Schalke have kept just three clean sheets in their last 12 home games and will have to make it four if they hope to progress here.
Verdict: Both teams to score and Shakhtar to progress. SB