Sunday, October 21, 2018

Prediction: Benfica vs Fenerbahce

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

Portugal giants Benfica have been paired with Turkish behemoths Fenerbahce in the Champions League third qualifying round. This will be the first time the two sides meet since the 2012/2013 and their Europa League semi-final clash so it promises to be a cracker of the tie.

Benfica

The Portuguese Eagles have fond memories of their previous encounter with Fenerbahce. Benfica had eliminated the Turks in the 2012/13 season to advance to the Europa League final and although the stakes are a bit different this time around, the Portugal powerhouse will do its best to get one step closer to grabbing a place in Europe’s elite competition.

Benfica are coming off from back-to-back defeats to Juventus and Lyon in the International Champions Cup and will be keen to bounce back and kick off the season on a high note. Rui Vitoria used the preseason to experiment with line-up and tactics but will be expected to go with the strongest side for the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce. The 36-time Portuguese champions have been proactive during the summer transfer window and reinforced their ranks by the likes of Nicolas Castillo, German Conti and goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, to name the few. The Portuguese side was busy on the departures end as well with Joao Carvalho leaving for Nottingham Forest and Bryan Cristante signing for Atalanta. Raul Jimenez moved to Wolves and it’s fair to say Rui Vitoria was given some work during the summer to compensate for their absence.

Team News

Benfica will have almost the full crop to pick from for the Fenerbahce game. Croatian midfielder Filip Krovinovic is suffering from a knee injury and will be the only absentee for the forthcoming clash.

Fenerbahce

Turkish heavyweights Fenerbahce struggled to get past the third qualifying round in last two seasons and will be particularly motivated to make at least a step forward this summer against Benfica. It’s been ten years to date since Fenerbahce last appeared in the group stage of Europe’s elite competition and there is great symbolism in the club’s efforts to grab their place in the Champions League this season.

Having been eliminated by Shakhtar Donetsk and AS Monaco in the third qualifying round over the past two seasons, Fenerbahce are hoping for a different strike of luck. In order to boost their chances of sealing the Champions League football, Fenerbahce brought Swansea forward Andre Ayew, while also boosting their squad with the likes of Berke Ozer and Baris Alici. The Ghana international remains the one to watch after making his bow last week against Cagliari. The 28-year-old was named deputy captain, helping his side to a 2-1 victory. Ayew is widely expected to play a significant role in the forthcoming game as well.

 The 28-year-old was named deputy captain, helping his side to a 2-1 victory. Ayew is widely expected to play a significant role in the forthcoming game as well.

Team News

Andre Ayew missed the Sunday training due to an injury but is expected to be fit for the Tuesday’s game although there is still no confirmation and explanation coming from the Yellow Canaries camp.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Benfica lost their last two preseason matches
  • Portuguese side failed to keep a clean sheet in last three games
  • Fenerbahce are unbeaten in last four outings
  • These two sides last met in 2013 with Benfica winning 3-2 on aggregate
  • There were over 2.5 goals in four of last five Fenerbahce matches

Conclusion

Benfica and Fenerbahce kick off the new season in different fortunes but with the same agenda. Both teams will be pushing for a strong start that would allow them to gain a foothold ahead of the return game in Turkey. We expect to see an openly contested game with goals at both ends.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

 

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