Benfica vs Club Brugge: Portuguese giants SL Benfica will welcome Belgian counterparts Club Brugge to Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica with a two-goal lead to protect in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.
This puts the Eagles in a strong position as they chase a quarter-final berth in the competition for a second consecutive season. Having been knocked out of the Last Eight by Liverpool last season, Benfica will be keen to have another shot at going as deep as they can in the competition.
Scott Parker’s side are yet to hit top gear under his management and were defensively naive in their first leg loss. They now find themselves with a mountain to climb in an arena that is not traditionally kind to visitors.
Only once in 45 previous occasions in the UEFA Champions League has a side that has won the first leg away ended up losing the tie over two games. It should take a monumental collapse from Benfica or a scintillating performance from Brugge to upset the applecart.
While a 1-0 lead from the first leg was salvageable, David Neres’s late strike at the Jan Breydel Stadium more or less swings the tie massively in Benfica’s favour. Roger Schmidt’s side are in good form at the moment and have only lost to Bayern Munich and Liverpool at home in recent years.
Brugge will need to be more adventurous and have no option but to take the game to Benfica. This should leave an opening for the home side to exploit on the counter. It should be an open game with plenty of goalscoring opportunities at both ends of the table.
Roger Schmidt will be without Mihailo Ristic and Julian Draxler who are suffering from muscle and ankle injuries. Chiquinho continues to recover from a muscular issue and is a doubt for the game. Benfica have an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from.
Benfica come into the tie having won all three of their games since the reverse leg. They have conceded just once in that time and appear to be solid in possession. Schmidt and co also have an eight-point lead at the top of Liga Portugal, meaning they can afford to focus on the midweek fixture over the upcoming game against Maritimo at the weekend.
Jack Hendry is unlikely to recover from his injury, while Adreas Skov Olsen will sit out following an appendix surgery. It is not all bad news as Raphael Onyedika will be expected to recover from his illness and feature for the game.
Benfica vs Club Brugge: Head to Head:
The two teams met for the first time last month in the first leg, with Benfica recording a 2-0 win.
The hosts have enjoyed an unbeaten run in the Champions League this season, scoring at least two goals in five of their seven games.
Club Brugge are winless in their last four games in the Champions League after recording wins in their first three games.
Club Brugge have failed to score in their last four UEFA Champions League matches.
Benfica are undefeated at home in all competitions this season, winning their last three games on the spin.
Benfica Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vlachodimos; Bah, Antonio Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Aursnes, Florentino; Mario, Rafa Silva, Neres; Ramos
Club Brugge Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Mata, Sylla, Mechele, Meijer; Odoi, Onyedika; Buchanan, Vanaken, Lang; Jutgla
SLB vs CLB: Fantasy XI
Vlachodimos; Bah, Antonio Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Onyedika; Buchanan, Vanaken, Lang;Neres; Ramos