Benfica may no longer be considered as a European heavyweight but that will not stop Roger Schmidt from dreaming of an unlikely Champions League success.
The Benfica coach declared “nothing is impossible” when the question was posed as to the Primeira Liga side’s hopes in UEFA’s top club competition this season.
Schmidt’s men host Club Brugge in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday, boasting a 2-0 lead from the first meeting in Belgium.
The first priority for Benfica will be reaching the quarter-finals for a second successive campaign in the competition, having last done so between 1967 and 1969 in the European Cup.
“I think all the teams who are in the knockout stages can win the Champions League but not with the same probability,” Schmidt said at Monday’s pre-match news conference.
“For the teams with the lowest budget, there’s always a small chance. For the big teams, there is a bigger chance. But actually, of course, it’s possible.”
Getting ready for #SLBBRU #UCL pic.twitter.com/V5p12SzO7F
— SL Benfica (@slbenfica_en) March 6, 2023
Benfica have lifted the famous European trophy twice in their history, when they were crowned champions in 1961 and successfully defended the title the following year.
However, no Portuguese side has triumphed in the Champions League since Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the 2003-04 campaign.
While eyeing unlikely continental glory, Schmidt says the first challenge will be securing the “big achievement” of making the last eight.
He added: “Nothing is impossible in football at this level, but at the moment we are very focused on reaching the quarter-finals, which would already be, for a club like Benfica, a big achievement.
“So we have to do it. It’s not done, as I said before. So step by step and tomorrow we will try to bring it to the end.”
As well as having a two-goal lead in the tie, the omens for the last-16 second leg are in Benfica’s favour given they have never lost in 10 previous home games against Belgian sides in all competitions (W8 D2), winning each of the last six in a row.
Victory in Portugal would also mark Benfica’s fourth Champions League success in a row, last winning more consecutively in Europe’s premier club competition in the 1989-90 campaign (six).
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