Best odds: 5/2
PSV Eindhoven will be welcoming Benfica to the Phillips Stadion on Tuesday evening in the second leg of their ultimate battle for a place in the group stages of this season’s Champions League. The first leg in Lisbon ended in triumph for the Portuguese side, with Rafa Silva and Julian Weigl scoring for them in the first half and Cody Gakpo bringing some hope back to the Dutch after the break.
The last time PSV reached the group stages of UEFA’s elite club competition was in 2018-19, and drawn against the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur, they could do no more than a last-place finish with only two points in the bag.
Last season, they finished second to Ajax in the Eredivisie, thus booking a place in the second round of the qualifications. They first eliminated the Turkish Galatasaray, and went on to beat Danish Midtjylland in the third round, before coming up against Benfica.
This term, they won both league games they’ve played so far, a 0-2 win away to Heracles and a 4-1 thumping of Cambuur at home. Before that, they comfortably beat Ajax (4-0) in the Dutch Super Cup.
PSV have shown fine form at home recently, and their supporters will be hoping to witness another successful display.
Schmidt shouldn’t pull too many surprises when selecting his starting XI. Striker Eran Zahavi is likely to have the trio of Mario Gotze, Noni Madueke and Gakpo in support, with Ibrahim Sangare and Marco van Ginkel in the middle of the park. The duo of Ramalho and Olivier Boscagli is expected to form the heart of the back line.
Benfica finished third in the Primeira Liga last term and earned a place in the qualifications for the Champions League, giving up on the two direct places in the group stages to their two fiercest rivals – champions Sporting Lisbon and runners-up FC Porto.
However, Benfica entered the qualification race in the third round, where they dispatched Spartak Moscow by winning both matches with the same scoreline, 2-0. Having won the first leg here, they’ll do their best not to let the advantage slip.
Like PSV, Benfica have also shown great form recently, winning all three of their league matches so far. Moreirense (away, 1-2), Arouca (home, 2-0) and Gil Vicente (away, 0-2) have all been beaten. Only Sporting have managed to match that run so far.
Coach Jorge Jesus rested several players against Gil Vicente, and the likes of Joao Mario, Silva and Pizzi are expected to come back into the team. However, striker Haris Seferovic, as well as defenders Jan Vertonghen and Ferro, will miss out through injury issues.
Former Manchester City centre-back Nicolas Otamendi will be commanding the back line, with Lucas Verissimo and Morato by his side. Diogo Goncalves will be running up and down the right flank, with Gil Dias on the left. In the absence of Seferovic, newcomer Roman Yaremchuk will likely lead the line upfront.
A tough and very narrow contest is likely to happen in this match. PSV will be looking to overcome the deficit as early as possible, but Benfica should have enough in their tank to keep things under control, avoid defeat and make the Champions League group stages.
Best odds: 5/2
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