Preview: Benfica vs. Bayern Munich

Benfica and Bayern Munich will both be aiming to maintain their unbeaten starts to the 2021-22 Champions League when they do battle at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday in Group E.

The hosts sit second in the group having taken four points from their opening two games, while Julian Nagelsmann’s side are sitting pretty at the summit.

Benfica had to do it the hard way in the qualifying rounds to book their place in the Champions League group stage, but the Portuguese giants proved that they firmly belong with the continental elite as they humbled Barcelona 3-0 on matchday two.

Darwin Nunez took all of three minutes to draw first blood against La Blaugrana before Rafa Silva doubled his side’s advantage in the 69th minute, and Nunez would make sure of the result from the penalty spot for his second and Benfica’s third in a remarkable success.

Such a romping was the perfect way for Benfica to respond to their opening goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev, and Jorge Jesus’s second-string side saw off Trofense 2-1 after extra time in the Taca de Portugal on Saturday thanks to goals from Everton and Andre Almeida.

A 1-0 defeat to Portimonense in league action before the international break ended a six-game winning run at home for Benfica, but the hosts have come up trumps in their last five Champions League fixtures at the Estadio da Luz – including qualifiers – scoring at least two goals each time.

With Barcelona sure to start picking up points in Europe as colder temperatures set in, second-placed Benfica find themselves under immense pressure to hold their standing in the knockout round berths, but they now prepare for one of the toughest assignments that the game has to offer.

While Benfica were marching to a romping victory of their own last time out, Bayern also produced a goal-laden performance on matchday two, as Nagelsmann oversaw a comprehensive 5-0 success over Dynamo Kiev on home soil.

Robert Lewandowski struck twice while Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also found the back of the net to cement Bayern’s place at the top of the rankings, and Nagelsmann’s men produced another five-star performance in league action at the weekend.

Lewandowski (2) and Gnabry (2) got their names on the scoresheet again while Thomas Muller netted his side’s third in an eye-catching 5-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen, with all of the Bavarians’ goals coming in the first half before Patrik Schick netted a consolation for a desolate Leverkusen in the second period.

Now boasting 10 wins from 12 in all competitions since the season kicked off, Bayern can all but confirm their place in the knockout rounds with all three points this week, and their goal difference of +8 is already the best out of all 32 teams in the group stage.

The Bavarians have also gone unbeaten in their last 19 Champions League away games and have won six of their last seven meetings with Benfica, most recently easing to a 5-1 victory in the 2018-19 group stage at home after a 2-0 win in Lisbon.

Benfica Champions League form:
Benfica form (all competitions):
Bayern Munich Champions League form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):

We say: Benfica 1-3 Bayern Munich
Already being tipped as early favourites to go all the way in the Champions League, Bayern Munich have been unplayable in almost every game this term but will face their toughest test yet at the Estadio da Luz.

With a red-hot Nunez leading the charge, Jesus’s side have the attacking guile needed to breach the Bavarians’ defence, but the visitors should exploit an ageing Benfica backline to march to another convincing win.

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