Tuesday, May 22, 2018

UEFA Champions League Preview: Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 8 Dec 2013


Benfica’s UEFA Champions League fate will not be entirely in their own hands in Tuesday’s home clash against Paris Saint-Germain.

Jorge Jesus’ side need to get a better result than Olympiacos, who host Anderlecht, if they are to progress to the last 16.

The Portuguese side had looked destined to crash out of the competition in their last match against Anderlecht, with their Belgian hosts pulling level in the 77th minute, but Rodrigo’s stoppage-time strike earned them three vital points.

The result moved Benfica level on seven points with Olympiacos, but the Greek side sit second by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.

Jesus has admitted that his priority is to win the Primeira Liga title, but he is still dreaming of reaching the Champions League final, which will be played in Benfica’s Estadio da Luz.

“The big goal is the championship, which the fans are eager to win,” he told UEFA.com. “The Champions League final is a second goal, which opponents and other teams have a much better possibility of reaching, but that does not mean we can’t dream and work for it.

“It (the final being in Lisbon) is an example of quality organisation and the passion Portuguese fans have for soccer, as shown in the European Championships (in 2004).

“The Champions League final will be the same. A great atmosphere in a stadium that is in my opinion one of the nicest world. Portuguese fans will receive everyone with great affection and respect.”

PSG ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the reverse fixture, with two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a solitary Marquinhos strike sweeping Benfica aside.

Ibrahimovic’s tally of eight group-stage goals has equalled the record shared by Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Filippo Inzaghi and Hernan Crespo, but with PSG already confirmed as Group C winners he looks set to be rested.

Benfica have played 12 matches at home against French sides in European competitions and not lost any, winning eight and drawing four, while PSG’s record against Portuguese teams includes four losses and six victories in 14 fixtures.

Laurent Blanc’s side have scored 15 goals in their first five games in the competition, a tally bettered only by Real Madrid, who have 18, while Benfica have managed only six.

Jesus’ men surprisingly dropped points in a 2-2 draw at home to Primeira Liga new boys Arouca on Friday and he has a few injuries to contend with.

Ruben Amorim (knee), Guilherme Siqueira (thigh) and Eduardo Salvio (knee) are all expected to miss out, while Oscar Cardozo (back) is a doubt after missing their last three matches.

Blanc, on the other hand, does not have many fitness issues to think about during his selection process. Lucas Digne and Adrien Rabiot both missed the weekend win over Sochaux with knocks, but they could return to the team, while other fringe players are expected start the match.



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