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Two heavyweights of European football go toe-to-toe at the quarter-final stage, with the first leg heading to the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
It’s Benfica v Liverpool on Tuesday as Jurgen Klopp attempts to reach his third final in five years at the Liverpool helm, but the Portuguese giants have their tails up following recent heroics against Ajax.
The Reds have really flexed their muscles in this season’s competition, winning seven of eight matches, whereas Benfica had to do it the hard way by sneaking past Barcelona in their group and winning 1-0 away in Amsterdam against a dangerous Ajax side.
A place in the semi-finals against either Villarreal or Bayern Munich await the winners of this tie and we’ve got a minimum of 180 minutes to look forward to.
Continue reading for our expert football betting tips for the clash.
Liverpool have been nothing short of a winning machine in 2022.
In fact, their only loss this calendar year came at home to Inter Milan in their last Champions League outing, with the Reds going through 2-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 win at the San Siro.
Aside from that loss, they’ve only drawn to Arsenal and Chelsea (twice), with one of those matches ending in Klopp and his side lifting the EFL Cup.
We’re expecting this dominance to continue in Lisbon against a Benfica side that have looked similarly strong in 2022, albeit against weaker opposition.
The Eagles have scored in their last 16 matches, as well as their last 16 at the Estadio da Luz, so we’re expecting Alisson to be tested in the Liverpool goal.
Third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Benfica are treading domestic water, 11 points clear in third but 12 points off leaders Porto.
It’s due to be three years without a league title for the Eagles, their longest stretch since 2013.
Two back-to-back runners-up finishes in the Portuguese Cup underline the trophy starvation going on at the Estadio da Luz currently, but the two-time European Cup winners have bigger fish to fry, reaching the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2016.
Recent form isn’t a concern for coach Nelson Veríssimo, dropping just two narrow defeats so far in 2022 – and don’t forget their 1-0 away win in Ajax will no doubt act as a catalyst for positive performances in the Champions League latter stages.
Whether it’s Mohammad Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz or Diogo Jota, Liverpool’s forwards usually find a way to hurt your defence.
The Reds have been fluid, dangerous and relentless in attack this season, top scoring in the Premier League with 75 goals in 29 matches and scoring 19 in just eight Champions League matches.
Their away form is also pretty scary with Liverpool drawing a blank just three times on the road since the start of 2021, including 14 occasions where they have scored three or more on away soil.
Together with a reliable, experienced defence and a well-rounded midfield, Liverpool are rightly considered big challengers for the Champions League this season and it’s hard to argue against it.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only notable omission expected from Liverpool’s squad, with the right back suffering with a hamstring injury.
With eight titles between them, Benfica and Liverpool are two European giants and two of just eight sides that have retained the European Cup.
Despite contesting 16 finals between them, they’ve never met in the “big one”, and that is once again the case in 2022 as the pair meet in the last eight.
Their head-to-head record is well-matched, with Liverpool winning six and Benfica four of 10 meetings, however, the Portuguese side have enjoyed more of the recent success, bagging three wins in the four matches in the 21st century.
Liverpool will take confidence in the fact that the Reds have won four of the five two-legged ties against Benfica.
The Estadio da Luz will host the first leg of this contest, as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel to Portugal for the second time this season.
Benfica’s stadium is in the heart of Lisbon, holds a capacity 65,000 fans and was opened in 2003 following the demolition of the original stadium that was built in 1954.
The stadium hosted the recent 2014 and 2020 Champions League finals, with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich winning respectively, and it also played host to Greece’s fairytale Euro 2004 final as Angelos Charisteas broke Portuguese hearts.
Liverpool could well be playing the best football across the continent at present, but on home soil we are expecting Benfica to ask at least a handful of questions of the six-time winners.
The thing is, Liverpool tend to find the answers, and an away win for the Reds with both teams finding pockets of success looks very well priced at 15/8.
With a title race hotting up in England, Liverpool won’t take their foot off the gas in this opening leg and will go for the kill if the opportunity presents itself.