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Preview: Benfica vs. RB Leipzig

Two sides with designs on proving themselves as dark horses in this season’s Champions League will begin their campaigns on Tuesday night when Benfica host RB Leipzig at the Estadio da Luz.

The Portuguese champions were eliminated in the group stages of last season’s competition, whereas Leipzig return to Europe’s top table after a year-long absence.

Match preview

Two-time winners Benfica are one of European football’s most famous clubs, but more recently they have had to content themselves with the role of conveyor belt of young talent to feed to more financially powerful outfits.

Joao Felix is the latest starlet to leave for big money, although in Ruben Dias and Florentino Luis they still boast two of football’s most coveted youngsters – Manchester United have been heavily linked with both.

Good performances on the biggest stage will only add zeros to their valuations, as proved by one of their group-stage opponents last season Ajax.

The Portuguese giants will have been disappointed to crash out in the group last season, although they were paired alongside Ajax and Bayern Munich and this season’s group looks a lot kinder, with Lyon and Zenit St Petersburg the other two teams in Group G.

Benfica’s European journey came to an end at the hands of German opposition last season when they were beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals, while they were also beaten at home by Bayern on matchday one of the Champions League in 2018-19.

Bruno Lage’s side have made a confident start to the defence of their record 37th domestic title with five wins from six games, keeping clean sheets in all of those victories while scoring 18 times.

A damaging 2-0 home defeat to bitter rivals Porto leaves them second to surprise package Famalicao in the standings, though, whereas their opponents on Sunday are sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side had a perfect record of four wins from four across all competitions heading into the international break, and backed that up with a respectable 1-1 draw against champions Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Still relative new boys on the scene, Leipzig’s third-placed finish last term was enough to earn their second taste of the Champions League, having failed to progress beyond the group stages in 2017-18.

Leipzig have only ever won three of 12 European away games, though, including their only previous visit to Portugal during that Champions League champion.

Despite being included in pot four for the draw, Leipzig will fancy their chances of making it into the knockout stages for the first time, and anything they can get in these away games would be a big boost towards that landmark goal.

Benfica form: WWWLWW
RB Leipzig form: WWWWD

 

S.L. Benfica

 Benfica  is a Portuguese sports club based in Lisbon. It is best known for the professional football team playing in the Primeira Liga, the top flight of the Portuguese football league system, where they are the current champions and the most successful club in terms of titles won.

Founded on 28 February 1904 as Sport Lisboa, Benfica is one of the “Big Three” clubs in Portugal that have never been relegated from the Primeira Liga, along with rivals Sporting CP and FC Porto. The Benfica team is nicknamed Águias (Eagles), for the symbol atop the club’s crest, and Encarnados (Reds), for the shirt colour. Since 2003, their home ground has been the Estádio da Luz, which replaced the larger, original one, built in 1954. Benfica is the most supported Portuguese club, with an estimated 14 million supporters worldwide,[2][3][4] and the European club with the highest percentage of supporters in its own country, reportedly having 206,437 members. The club’s anthem, “Ser Benfiquista”, refers to its supporters, who are called benfiquistas; Águia Vitória is its mascot. Benfica is honoured with three Portuguese Orders: those of Christ (Commander), of Prince Henry (Honorary Member) and of Merit (Officer).

With 83 major trophies won – 84 including the Latin Cup – Benfica is the most decorated club in Portugal They have won 80 domestic trophies: a record 37 Primeira Liga titles, a record 26 Taça de Portugal, a record 7 Taça da Liga, 8 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira and 3 Campeonato de Portugal. Internationally, they won back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962 – a unique feat in Portuguese football – and were runners-up at the Intercontinental Cup in 1961 and ’62, at the European Cup in 1963, ’65, ’68, ’88 and ’90, and at the UEFA Cup/Europa League in 1983, 2013 and ’14. Benfica’s ten European finals are a domestic record and ranked seventh all-time among UEFA clubs in 2014.[7] Moreover, Benfica hold the European record for the most consecutive wins in domestic league and the record for the longest unbeaten run in Primeira Liga, where they became the first undefeated champions, in 1972–73.

Benfica was ranked twelfth in FIFA Club of the Century  and ninth in IFFHS Top 200 European clubs of the 20th century.[9] Currently, Benfica is ranked 19th in the UEFA club coefficient rankings  and has the second most participations in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League  In this tournament, they hold the overall record for the biggest aggregate win, achieved in 1965–66.

Stadium : Estadio da Luz

Opening: 2003 | Capacity: 64,400 seats

Estádio da Luz, officially named Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, was built to provide Benfica with a new and modern home, and to serve as the playing venue for the Euro 2004 final.

Estádio da Luz got built in place of the old Estádio da Luz. Construction works started in 2002, and in March 2003 Benfica played their last game at the partly demolished old stadium.

The new stadium opened on the 25th of October 2003 with a match between Benfica and Uruguayan side Club Nacional (2-1).

During the Euro 2004 Championships, Estadio da Luz hosted three group matches, the quarter-final between Portugal and England (2-2), and the final between Greece and Portugal (1-0).

In 2014, the stadium hosted the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid (4-1).