Liverpool will bring a 3-1 lead into the second leg of a Champions League picks quarter-final tie against Benfica on Wednesday afternoon.
The match, in which the Reds are heavily favored, will get underway at Anfield in Liverpool, England, at 3:00 p.m. ET and will determine who plays Villareal in the semi-final.
Liverpool vs Benfica Stats
The team is unbeaten in its last six matches and drew its previous match 2-2 against English champions Manchester City in what was one of the most competitive games of the year. However, the Reds went all-in with their squad and will either have to rotate or start players with somewhat tired legs in the midweek tie against Benfica.
Liverpool has won eight times and lost just once in the Champions League thus far; it seems unlikely they would throw away a commanding lead at home, but if Chelsea’s comeback-turned-heartbreaking-loss to Real Madrid on Tuesday proved anything, it is that an opponent with its back against the wall is the most dangerous opponent.
Benfica has won four of its last five games— the exception being the loss to Liverpool— and rebounded with a 3-1 win against Belenenses over the weekend. The Portuguese representatives do not have a domestic opponent with the talents of Liverpool, so even though they are now at a two-goal disadvantage, they at least have a taste of what to expect in the rematch.
No amount of preparedness is likely to make up for the two-goal gap totally, however, especially since they now have to score three goals to guarantee a win or else risk going to penalties. Benfica had not scored three goals in a game in six matches prior to this weekend’s win and will have to risk a defensive collapse to go for it on the road fully.
Liverpool vs Benfica Betting Trends
Liverpool is the heaviest favorite of all teams that made it to the quarter-final, per most Champions League betting odds, for a few reasons: first, they already showed their superiority against Benfica in a decisive and well-deserved win.
Second, they are playing at home in one of the most intimidating environments in the entire world, and third, they have the ability to sit back, defend, and pick their spots to attack. They do not need many chances to create either, especially with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz rounding out a breathtaking attack.
Liverpool vs Benfica Predictions
Anything other than a Liverpool victory would defy logic, trends, Champions League odds, and every source of conventional wisdom. They were the clear superior in the first leg and looked as sharp as ever against Manchester City at the weekend, which should make the Benfica fixture almost seem like a step-down, even though it is in one of the later stages of the most prestigious competitions in the world.
Liverpool also has the benefit of choosing three attackers from a pool of five, all of whom can step in and be the best player on the pitch on their day. It would not be a surprise for Benfica to send as many bodies forward as they can and get hit on the counterattack by the rapid pace of their attacking trio.
Benfica also faces the problem of being somewhat weak in the midfield— not in the sense that their players are not strong or do not have the same desire to win as Liverpool does, but they are just not used to facing the relentless pressure that the Reds provide in their press, which they have to deal with nearly every weekend in the English Premier League.
The best hope for Benfica bettors would be a draw, but a Liverpool win is the most likely result, probably after an early goal that causes them to sit back and defend for the rest of the 90 minutes.
Benfica must win by at least two goals to extend the match or move on into the semi-final round, which they will be hard-pressed to do. The smart money is on Liverpool making out of the quarter-final and taking on Villareal, who just knocked out German giant Bayern Munich, for a spot in the Champions League Final.