Since posting a 2-0 triumph in the first leg of this UEFA Champions League (UCL) tie, current Portuguese Primeira Liga leaders Benfica have won three straight games by two goals difference, so he should have the confidence to go all out as he aims to reach the UCL quarter-finals for the second successive season. In fact, they haven’t lost a UCL game since that quarter-final clash with Liverpool in April (W9, D3), and they know that extending that record with a draw would be enough to qualify.
PSG was the only team that Benfica could not beat at home in that streak (G4) and, in fact, they have not lost an official match at home since May (G16, D2), which shows signs of how difficult this clash will be for Club Brugge. The “Eagles” will look to fly in style once again, as they have never lost a European match against a Belgian rival (G8, E2), winning the last four such matches without conceding a goal, so their passage to the quarterfinals seems to be nothing more than a formality.
What awaits Brugge is already complicated, but they travel to Portugal in a terrible state since they have won only one of their last six games (D3, L2) and that has them in fourth place in the Belgian First Division. Even more troubling is the fact that they are conspicuously lacking in attacking power — they haven’t scored more than two goals since Oct. 29, and that’s exactly what they need to do here if they want to qualify without taking penalties.
If there is one thing that could give Brugge some confidence, it is the fact that the last time they set foot in Portugal they were left with a 4-0 win against Porto in September last year. While their recent performance and attacking struggles suggest a repeat of that result is unlikely, it is worth noting that they need to go all out if they are to win a European tie after a group stage for the first time since 2014/15.
Players to watch: Gonçalo Ramos could close the key for Benfica, since he has scored in three of the last four home games for the Portuguese team – on three occasions he did so after min. 60. Meanwhile, Hans Vanaken’s last two goals for Brugge were the second of those matches.
Highlight: Benfica have won 20 of their last 21 European qualifiers in which they won the first leg away (L1).