Benfica v Liverpool
Liverpool are making the charge for the Premier League title and after beating Watford 2-0at the weekend, making it eight of their last 10 league matches seeing them win without conceding, including each of their last five.
Benfica lost their most recent game to Sporting Braga (3-2) and have recently slipped away from the two title challengers in the Primeira Liga, Sporting and Porto. They sit nine points away from Sporting who occupy the final automatic qualification spot, though they also sit nine points clear of Braga in fourth so should easily make it to next season’s qualifiers. They have little recent experience hosting English sides in this competition, but have lost both such matches 1-0 in the last decade against Chelsea (2012) and Man United (2017), which isn’t the best omen for them coming up against a rampant Liverpool side.
Considering that Liverpool have won eight of their last ten to nil including against good teams such as Arsenal and West Ham, it is not the most far fetched idea that they will turn up and win-to-nil against the Portuguese side. Liverpool went to Inter and won 2-0 in their last European road trip while their domestic rivals Manchester City went to Sporting, who are nine points clear of Benfica, and beat them 5-0, highlighting the gulf in class at this moment in time. The last time Benfica played anyone whose quality is a resemblance of Liverpools’, was Bayern Munich who they faced in the group stage of this competition and lost 4-2 and 5-0.
LIVERPOOL TO WIN TO NIL
Manchester City v Atletico Madrid
Manchester City cruised to a 2-0 victory over relegation-battling Burnley at the weekend. The only title missing in the trophy cabinet for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is the Champions League, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Pep left after this season if they go on to win the whole competition.
After beating the Citizens’ local rivals Man United 1-0 in the previous round, Diego Simeone’s Atletico will be relishing the opportunity to do the double over the Manchester clubs. Atleti's away record in La Liga this season has been a relatively poor W7-D3-L5 and they’ve lost all three away games they have played against top four sides in La Liga, which doesn’t bode well for this tie.
Both sides will have to make do without their best centre backs in Ruben Dias for City and Jose Giminez for Atletico. John Stones didn’t feature in the game against Burnley at the weekend and is doubtful to start too after picking up an injury on international duty. This could mean that Laporte and Ake lead the defensive line for the hosts. Since the beginning of last season, in the league alone, Laporte and Ake have won four of their five matches that they’ve started together, though up against the only side of real quality in that run, Chelsea, they suffered a 2-1 defeat which could be telling.
Manchester City haven’t been scoring as many goals as we are used to seeing from them, six out of their last nine Premier League fixtures have finished with under 2.5 goals and six of Atleti’s eight Champions League games so far have finished with the same result. Atleti will go to the Etihad and likely shut up shop so they can have the biggest advantage possible going into the second leg, and we wouldn’t rule out Simeone pulling off another masterclass.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS
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