Anfield is set for another special Champions League night as Liverpool host Benfica on Wednesday. The hosts go into this with a 3-1 lead on aggregate, but the tie is far from over and Benfica will be ready to pounce on any slip up’s like Konate’s last week. Liverpool go into this the clear favourites but it won’t be straight forward for The Reds.
Liverpool arrive after a thrilling 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Sunday with an FA Cup semi final tie against the Citizens up next. Jurgen Klopp is far from pleased about his sides packed fixture list with 3 tough matches within a week and the dramatic draw at the Etihad may call for some fresh legs to be introduced against Benfica.
Benfica on the other hand, had one eye on this Champions League fixture with Nelson Verissimo resting players at the weekend, making six changes from his Champions League starting line-up. Liverpool should expect a full-strength Benfica with key players well rested going into this.
Perhaps the main worry for Liverpool will be keeping Darwin Nunez quiet. The young striker managed to grab himself a hattrick at the weekend with 3 well taken goals against bottom of the league Belenenses, adding to his remarkable goal tally this season.
It’s hard to tell who Klopp will include and who he will rest in this one, with Manchester City on either side of this tie. Take a look at my bet builder below which focuses on Benfica player selections for this quarter final battle, along with the usual cheat sheet.
Darwin Nunez to have 1+ Shots on Target
The first selection of my bet builder focuses on the man of the moment in Portugal, Darwin Nunez, who has caught the eye of European giants and looks set for a huge move for a fee of around 80 million. The Uruguayan has been compared to a young Edison Cavani and his future looks bright if he can avoid any more serious knee injuries.
The striker has 6 goals in his last 4, scoring in each of these 4 games including his impressive hattrick at the weekend. Domestically, Darwin Nunez has been unstoppable, he has 24 goals from just 20 starts and 4 appearances off the bench! His cheat sheet stats are ridiculously impressive too, averaging 2.17 shots on target per game in Liga Portugal.
Additionally, Darwin has impressed in the Champions league this season, scoring 5 goals in 5 starts. He averages 1.45 attempts per game and has 6 shots on target from his 5 starts and 4 appearances from the bench. In all competitions, Darwin Nunez finds the target 46% of his 2.68 shots per game, meaning he averages 1.23 shots on target per game.
Liverpool have conceded an average of 2.6 shots on target per game in their 9 Champions League fixtures so far, with Benfica finding the target 3 times last week against them. Benfica average 3.4 shots on target per game from their 9.5 efforts.
Darwin will definitely be there to cause the Liverpool backline problems and didn’t look out of place at all against Van Dijk last week, pouncing on Konate’s error which helped his side back into the game, so I am backing him to have at least 1 attempt at Alisson between the sticks as Benfica look to battle their way back into the tie.
Gilberto to be Shown a Card
Benfica, unlike Liverpool, were able to rest some players at the weekend against bottom of the league opposition. Brazilian right back Gilberto was one of the players to be rotated and rested but should return to the starting line-up at Anfield.
The right back looks to be in for a tough shift no matter who his opponent is out on the wing with Liverpool’s attacking options. It will likely be Diaz, Mane or Jota who are the top 3 for fouls drawn. It will most likely be Diaz who starts out on the left, as he was left out of the starting line-up against City.
In the Champions League, Gilberto averages 1.75 fouls per game and has 1 yellow card from his 8 matches. Gilberto is known for his harsh tackles and fouls committed so he could well be shown a yellow card up against tricky wingers in a hostile Anfield. It’s also worth noting that referee Serdar Gozubuyuk averages 4 yellow cards per game, with Gilberto topping the cheat sheet for fouls committed I fancy him to be in the referees book here at Anfield.
Over 2.5 Goals
This fixture shouldn’t disappoint in the goals department with the two highest scoring teams from the Premier League and Liga Portugal locking horns. With Benfica two goals down from the get-go they will need to go for it, which could leave them exposed and open at the back and Liverpool could capitalise on this.
Both sides have been in around the goals recently, Benfica have seen 3 or more goals in each of their last 4 games in all competitions and Liverpool have seen over 3 in their last 2. This includes the reverse fixture between these sides last week, which ended in a thrilling 3-1 score line showing both teams capabilities to score and concede on the big stage.
In the Champions League, Liverpool average 2.34 goals scored per game with 0.89 conceded in their 9 games so far meaning they average 3.23 goals per game. Benfica have impressed too, hence their position in the quarter finals. The Portuguese outfit score an average of 1.23 per game and concede almost double Liverpool on average with 1.56 goals against.
At home, Liverpool have 2.71 xG this season, with Klopp openly stating that Anfield will play its part in helping The Reds. Benfica have an xG of 1.62 with 1.1 xGA and could find it tough to keep Liverpool out again.
Liverpool have scored 2.28 goals on average in all competitions this season with their dangerous attacking threats in Mane, Salah, Jota and now Diaz. Benfica have a similar average with 2.08 and 1.15 conceded per game so all signs point to a goal fest at Anfield.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets *
Liverpool predicted XI (4-3-3) : Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Fabinho, Keïta; Salah, Jota, Luis Díaz
Benfica predicted XI (4-2-3-1) : Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Weigl, Taarabt; Rafa Silva, Ramos, Everton; Darwin Núñez
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* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Liverpool v Benfica in the Champions League
📅 When is Liverpool v Benfica? / Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 20:00
🏟 Where is Liverpool v Benfica? / Anfield (Liverpool)
📺 What TV channel is Liverpool v Benfica on? / BT Sports 3
🟨 …And who is the referee for Liverpool v Benfica? / Serdar Gozubuyuk 🇳🇱