Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain will both be aiming to continue their perfect starts to the 2022-23 Champions League when they lock horns in Wednesday’s Group H game at the Estadio da Luz.
Both teams have taken six points from their opening two games, but something has to give in this week’s top-of-the-table clash in Lisbon.
All good things must come to an end, and Benfica were the victims of that age-old saying at the weekend, as Roger Schmidt’s side saw their remarkable winning run halted in a goalless stalemate with their Primeira Liga opponents on Saturday.
Prior to that 0-0 draw, Benfica had begun life in the 2022-23 campaign with 13 victories from 13 matches in all competitions during a sensational start to their new era under Schmidt, who has quickly steered As Aguias to first place in the Primeira Liga table – three points clear of Porto and Braga.
After opening their European campaign with a 2-0 success over Maccabi Haifa, Benfica made further waves in Europe with a 2-1 victory at Juventus’ Turin headquarters, as Joao Mario and David Neres cancelled out Arkadiusz Milik’s fourth-minute opener.
Schmidt’s near-perfect side are only in second place having scored one fewer goal than group leaders and upcoming opponents PSG, and despite having to battle past Midtjylland and Dynamo Kiev in Champions League qualifying, Benfica have taken to the group stage like a duck takes to water.
The Portuguese giants also have five victories to boast from their five previous meetings with French opponents at home in the Champions League, and they have scored at least two goals in each of their seven home wins so far this term, but PSG know a thing or two about attacking dominance.
When things were going pear-shaped for Christophe Galtier and PSG during the visit of Nice, the Parisiens head coach was blessed with the luxury of bringing Kylian Mbappe off the bench to seal a 2-1 victory in Saturday’s Ligue 1 encounter.
Hugo Ekitike was given the nod for the contest at the Parc des Princes, where Gaetan Laborde cancelled out Lionel Messi’s opening free kick before Galtier called upon the cavalry, and Mbappe struck the winner for the French champions eight minutes from time.
Still holding off closest challengers Marseille in the Ligue 1 title fight, PSG were handed a scare against Maccabi Haifa in their most recent Champions League battle but ultimately prevailed 3-1, and they continue to sit pretty at the top of the Group H standings.
As is the case with Benfica, PSG have also navigated the 2022-23 season unbeaten so far – winning each of their last seven in all competitions – but not since October 2020 have the capital club kept a clean sheet away from home in Europe’s premier competition.
Benfica and PSG have not locked horns competitively since the 2013-14 Champions League group stage, where Les Parisiens thumped their Portuguese counterparts 3-0 at home before losing 2-1 away from home, and both managers are putting their unbeaten streaks on the line in Lisbon.
Benfica Champions League form:
Benfica form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
We say: Benfica 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
It may require a moment of magic to decide this contest between two unbeaten heavyweights, both of whom underwhelmed at the weekend, and Benfica are not to be taken lightly on home turf.
While PSG’s defence is prone to the odd loss of concentration, Galtier’s front three are capable of conjuring up game-defining moments on a whim, and we expect the French champions to just about edge a tight contest in Lisbon.