15:00 ET Canada-USA | 21:00 Cairo Local Time
Agg: 3 – 1
Liverpool and Benfica are set to do battle again on Wednesday at Anfield, in the second leg of their encounter in the quarterfinals of this season’s Champions League.
Over at the Estadio da Luz last week, Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane put Liverpool two goals in front, before Darwin Nunez capitalized on mistake from Konate to pull one back for Benfica. However, former FC Porto winger Luis Diaz, booed throughout the match by the Benfica faithful, scored Liverpool’s third late on.
The winner of this tie will go on to face either Villarreal or Bayern Munich in the semifinals.
After the success of the first leg, this fixture has taken a back seat to the Premier League and FA Cup clashes against Manchester City, set either side of it, as far as most of the English press and the Reds supporters are concerned. It’s not to be wondered at too much, given the rivalry that has arisen between these two sides since Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola took over.
Still in with a chance for every trophy out there, Liverpool will be looking to move past Benfica as painlessly as possible at this point.
Nonetheless, Klopp has provided assurances that at this moment, he’s only thinking about Benfica, and warned anyone taking this opponent lightly that only half of the battle is over, as well as that lessons should have been learned from the 0-1 defeat to Inter Milan in the previous round.
In the Premier League, Liverpool are firmly locked in the title race, sitting one point behind City with seven rounds to go. In the Champions League, they smashed their way through a group also containing Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan, and got Inter out of their way in the round of 16.
Liverpool’s recent run of form reads five victories and a draw. The only match they failed to win was the one which ended 2-2 against City at the Etihad on Sunday. Before that, they won 0-2 away to Brighton and Hove Albion, 0-2 away to Arsenal, 0-1 away to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, 2-0 at home against Watford, and the first leg against Benfica in Lisbon by 1-3.
An aspect of this clash that surely needs to be kept in mind is that Benfica will be going to the North-West of England strongly motivated. Nobody really had them down as favourites against Liverpool, but the fact is, the prospect of going as far as possible in the Champions League is their biggest energy source at this point in the season.
In the Primeira, Benfica are firmly planted in third place. They have no chance of competing for the title, sitting 15 points behind Porto at the top, very little chance of closing the nine-point gap to city rivals Sporting in second place, and with a nine-point advantage over Braga in fourth, they’re as secure as possible exactly where they are.
It should be said that Nelson Verissimo’s team already pulled very big surprises by reaching the knockout stages ahead of Barcelona (and Dynamo Kyiv) in Group E, behind Bayern Munich, as well as by taking Ajax out in the round of 16.
Benfica’s last-six run consists of a 1-1 draw at home against Vizela, a 0-1 win away to Ajax, a 2-1 win at home against Estoril Praia, a 3-2 defeat away to Braga, the 1-3 defeat to Liverpool in the first leg, and a 3-1 win over Belenenses SAD at home.
Darwin Nunez, reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, complemented his goal against Liverpool with a hat-trick in that last one.
LIVE: Liverpool vs Benfica | Champions League | 2nd leg