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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

Schedule

September 21, 2019
Werder Bremen 4:30 PM RB Leipzig
September 28, 2019
RB Leipzig 1:30 PM Schalke 04

Results

September 14, 2019
RB Leipzig 1 - 1 Bayern München
August 30, 2019
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 - 3 RB Leipzig
August 25, 2019
RB Leipzig 2 - 1 Eintracht Frankfurt