Benfica welcome PSV Eindhoven to the Estadio da Luiz in Lisbon for the first leg of their Champions League playoff encounter on Wednesday night.
Arguably the tie of the round, only one of these European giants can progress into this year’s group stage, which neither side competed in last season.
Benfica maintained their 100% record for the new campaign when they claimed a routine 2-0 home victory against 10-men Arouca in the Primeira Liga last weekend.
After the dismissal of Victor Braga just eight minutes in, the Eagles went on to dominate the match, with first-half strikes from Luca Waldschmidt and new recruit Roman Yaremchuk – who has joined from Gent this summer – enough to seal all three points for the hosts.
Benfica have now won all four of their competitive fixtures so far this season, scoring twice on each occasion as well as keeping three clean sheets.
Two of these victories were in the previous round of Champions League qualification, with the Eagles beating Sparta Prague 4-0 on aggregate earlier this month.
Jorge Jesus is now preparing for an important clash against PSV, with the Portuguese giants aiming to qualify for the Champions League group stage, having missed out last year for the first time in a decade.
Benfica last faced PSV when they dropped down from Europe’s elite domestic competition into the Europa League during the 2010-11 campaign. The Eagles won an entertaining two-legged tie 6-3 on aggregate, before reaching the semi-finals that season.
Although a lot has changed in 10 years, Jesus will be hoping that his side can produce a similar result across the two legs, though he will be aware of the threat the Dutch opponent will pose.
Like Benfica, PSV have also had a perfect start to the new campaign, winning all six of their competitive fixtures and scoring 17 goals in the process.
Eindhoven have had to progress from both the second and third rounds of Champions League qualification to get to this stage, thumping Galatasaray 7-2 on aggregate before securing a 4-0 win over two legs against FC Midtjylland earlier this month.
Roger Schmidt’s men have also enjoyed domestic success this season, when they claimed an impressive 4-0 victory over Dutch giants Ajax in the final of the Johan Cruyff Shield.
PSV will be full of confidence heading into Wednesday’s first leg against Benfica, a side they have only ever beaten once before in their history, winning 6-5 on penalties in the 1987-88 European Cup final, their only major European honour to date.
The 2018-19 campaign was the last time Eindhoven competed in the group stages of the Champions League, where they picked up just two points from tricky encounters against Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan.
Schmidt seems to have moulded a much stronger side since then and he will be hoping that they can avoid another year in the Europa League.
Benfica Champions League form:
Benfica form (all competitions):
PSV Eindhoven Champions League form:
PSV Eindhoven form (all competitions):
Our prediction on this event is over 1.5-over 3 goals.
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