Champions League Preview: Liverpool prepare for European giant-killers Benfica!!
Benfica vs Liverpool: Preview
Six-time European champions, Liverpool, are all set to take guard against Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in a crunch Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon on Tuesday (April 5).
Like the Reds, Benfica have also been former European champions, having lifted the Holy Grail back in the early 1960s.
Jürgen Klopp's men will have an added incentive going into the game as they are still involved in all the competitions including a tense Premier League title charge.
On the flip side, Benfica will be eyeing the glory provided they aren't in running for the domestic honour in Portugal and the best possible way to get into the Champions League next season is to win the whole thing.
Benfica vs Liverpool: Journey so far in the Champions League 2021/22
Benfica were were part of a tough group E, which comprised Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but luckily for them, they escaped as group runners-up.
Barcelona's post-Messi issues saw Benfica take advantage as they finished with eight points, a point ahead of the five-time champions.
The Round of 16 saw the Portuguese outfit play four-time champions Ajax, who were another team with perfect six wins out of six recorded in the group stage, however, Benfica dispatched them 3-2 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-final.
Liverpool were also involved in a tough group involving seven-time champions AC Milan and Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid but faced no issues of sorts as they topped with 18 points.
In the Round of 16, they were scheduled for another visit to Milan as they faced Inter Milan and came out top by winning 2-1 on aggregate.
They did lose the second game at home but still made it through as they now try to add a seventh European title to their name.
Player Analysis – Mohammed Salah vs Darwin Nunez
The two hot properties in the Champions League this season, Mohammed Salah and Darwin Nunez have been the driving force for their respective sides.
While Salah has scored eight goals, the Egyptian has replicated his Premier League form but is four goals shy of the leading goal scorer Robert Lewandowski, who has 12.
Nunez, 22, on the flip side is considered one of the best youngsters in Europe at the present time.
The Uruguayan has scalped four goals, while he also scored the winner in the second leg against Ajax in Amsterdam. Things are only looking bright for the young star as big names are linked for his signature.
Benfica vs Liverpool: Last head-to-head meeting in Lisbon
It is exactly 12 years since Liverpool last travelled to Lisbon to face Benfica, a match remembered for the heroics of Oscar Cardozo who scored twice in the second half to give Benfica a 2-1 win.
Initially, Daniel Agger had given Liverpool the lead in the ninth minute, by Cardozo turned the screw to win the contest. He also scored in the second leg, but couldn't prevent Liverpool from turning the tie around and progressing as they won the tie 5-3.
Premier League Cult heroes - Vertonghen and Otamendi
The occasion will serve as a fairytale reception for Jan Vertonghen and Nicolas Otamendi, who both played in the Premier League against the Reds.
While Vertonghen was successful only twice to beat Liverpool during his stay at Tottenham, Otamendi and Manchester City were Liverpool's nightmare as they often beat them in the Premier League. The occasion would be perfect for the old boys to bite Liverpool again.
With a visit to Manchester City on the weekend in Premier League, Liverpool will be keeping one eye on the big affair as team selection and squad depth will come into play.
The two teams will meet again a week later in the FA Cup as well, so Jürgen Klopp will be optimistic about the team selection.
For Benfica, they have already crossed the hurdles of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Ajax in this year's competition, so with nothing to lose they can give Liverpool a run for their money.