Bayern Munich v Besiktas Tuesday 20 February, 19:45 Live on BT Sport Showcase
Can domestically dominant Bayern make UCL leap?
From the moment Carlo Ancelotti was jettisoned as Bayern Munich coach and Jupp Heynckes was brought in to replace him, there's been a significant shift at Sabener Strasse. Players that had become disgruntled at Ancelotti's lack of intensity in training suddenly rediscovered their focus, and cohesion returned on and off the field.
Heynckes is 72 now, but his ability to coach effectively remains. He has helped Bayern carve out a 19-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, and the Bavarian giants have reached the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal. Robert Lewandowski has already racked up 20 league goals, Thomas Muller is back to his marauding best, and midfield warrior Arturo Vidal (who worked with Heynckes at Leverkusen) has responded to Heynckes' suggestion that he wasn't fit or influential enough.
The big question is whether Bayern's dominance of the Bundesliga has allowed them to develop bad habits, and whether they can raise their game to the level required for big Champions League clashes. It bodes well that Bayern have won all four of their UCL matches since Ancelotti left, including a 3-1 victory over PSG at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern have won 19 of their last 20 Champions League home games (if you include the 4-2 extra-time win over Juventus), with their only defeat in that sequence coming against Real Madrid. Heynckes has proved his mettle in this competition, having won it with both Bayern and Real Madrid.
Apart from keeper Manuel Neuer, Bayern have a fully fit squad to choose from. Vidal is back from suspension, James should return after he was rested at the weekend, while it remains to be seen whether Thiago will play any part, after he returned from a three-month absence in Saturday's win at Wolfsburg.
Besiktas keen to take another big step forward
Besiktas have been gaining momentum for some time. They have won the Turkish Super Lig in each of the last two seasons, and they gained vital European experience as a unit last term as they reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
This season, they topped a decent Champions League group that included last season's semi-finalists Monaco, and they were unbeaten in their six matches. In all competitions they have put together a seven-match unbeaten run.
Coach Senol Gunes has been the driving force behind Besiktas' success, and it's worth remembering that he's the manager who led Turkey to third place at the 2002 World Cup. His avuncular, passionate approach has been well received by a group of players that have maximised their potential. The hitherto nomadic and inconsistent Ryan Babel has arguably found the best form of his career, and there is steel at the back after the acquisitions of Gary Medel and Pepe.
With top scorer Cenk Tosun now at Everton, Gunes has had to try and fill the void with a pair of veterans. Brazilian Vagner Love has scored twice in his first three league games, while Alvaro Negredo has netted twice in his last five appearances.
Bayern firm favourites to take first-leg advantage
Bayern are a prohibitive 1.16 for the win, which makes sense given their form, but doesn't necessarily take into account Besiktas' abilities. Bayern have only won one of their last seven home games by more than a two-goal margin, and Besiktas haven't lost by more than on goal in any game this season.
On that basis you may wish to consider giving Besiktas a two-goal start on the Asian Handicap at 2.36.
Bayern's defence is far from impregnable
The bet that really jumps out at me is backing Both Teams To Score at 2.20. Besiktas have scored in all but one of their away games in all competitions, and Bayern tend to give the opposition more chances than usual this term.
Bayern have only kept one clean sheet in their last seven home matches in all competitions, and although back-up keeper Sven Ulreich has done a decent job in the absence of the injured Manuel Neuer, he doesn't compare to Germany's captain.
Revitalised Muller to make his mark
Thomas Muller should start (he came off the bench at the weekend), as he is a favourite of Heynckes, and with good reason. Muller looks sharp, and has been on great form, as he's been involved in seven goals in his last ten appearances.
At 2.40, I'll back him to find the net in 90 minutes.