Benfica v Liverpool Tips: Goals at a premium in Lisbon

Liverpool's superb recent defensive record and Benfica's poor form and lack of clarity points to 'unders', says Portuguese football expert Jamie Pacheco.

Can Benfica do it all over again?

The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, another league defeat won't make too much of a difference to Benfica's domestic season.

It's been pretty obvious for a while now that not only were they out of the title race, but also unlikely to finish second and play for Champions League football, with both league leaders Porto and also Sporting considerably better than Benfica this campaign.

The bad news is that you don't want to be going into the biggest game of your season fresh from defeat. They lost 3-2 away at Braga, admittedly a really good side, and pretty much fielded their best team, star striker Darwin Nunez (who came off the bench and converted a penalty) aside.

They've done extremely well to get this far. They were underdogs to get past a fine Ajax side and one can't underestimate the importance of the cash coming in to a club like Benfica, as a reward for making the quarter-finals. Can they keep upsetting the odds and make the semis?

Just about everyone is fit but no fewer than seven players are a booking away from suspension, so lots of Benfica men on the field will be walking a tightrope from the very start.

Reds in unstoppable form

Liverpool are on course for an unprecedented quadruple after having already bagged the League Cup.

It's obviously a big, big task but there are fewer better managers in the game than Jurgen Klopp and after making smart signings like Diego Jota and Luis Diaz over the last couple of years and seeing youngsters like Curtis Jones progress, they do have a big enough squad to be able to rotate players and really try and win all four.

Sadio Mane, Liverpool.jpg

There were some nervy moments against Inter in that second leg after they went 1-0 down but they played the last half hour against ten men after Alexis Sanchez saw red and would have been confident about progressing had Inter found a second and taken the game to extra-time.

They've been ruthless in the league, winning their last ten. At the weekend it was Watford being the latest team to find them too much to handle, the Reds securing a regulation 2-0 win.

The brilliant Trent Alexander-Arnold is injured and that's a big blow because of what he gives you going forward and from set pieces.

Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane are both a booking away from suspension.

Why Liverpool are the price they are

1.4 may at first seem a bit short about a team playing away from home against one of Europe's traditional greats, who have just come from a good win over Ajax in the previous round. But is it?

Liverpool are one of the hottest sides in European football right now but for the first time in years, don't just have an ace starting eleven, but also lots of really good options to bring on off the bench.

What's also fresh in the memory is how Portuguese sides struggled against the Premier League's elite this year in the competition. Porto lost 5-1 at home to Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon were humbled 5-0 against Manchester City. On both occasions, those beatings came at home.


It's also true that under interim manager Verissimo, Benfica have mostly been poor. Results have been mediocre, the quality of their football has been indifferent and there isn't an obvious style of play. They seem to make it up as they go along. They were rather fortunate to get the better of Ajax.

So maybe it's fair price after all. It's just not a price for us. It's 5.3 the draw and 9.4 the Benfica win. It was all a long time ago but those interested in the home win will recall that Benfica won all three of their last home matches against Liverpool: in 1984, 2006 and 2010.

Why 'unders' makes appeal

Despite the Benfica are normally good for at least a goal- they've scored in 23 of their last 24 games- it's worth remembering that scoring in the Portuguese Superliga is one thing and scoring against the very best sides is quite another.

Just look at Liverpool's recent defensive record. They've kept seven clean sheets in their last nine in all competitions, conceding only to Norwich and Inter, and even then, it was just one goal in each of those.

So, they've obviously been very tight at the back recently and that includes facing sides with greater attacking potential than Benfica.

Given that they won't be fussed about winning too comfortably, knowing the return leg is at Anfield, and you may be tempted to think that a 1-0 or 2-0 win for the Reds is the way this one might go.

Remembering that all of Liverpool's last six games have stayed under 2.5 goals, as have two of the last three between these two with Benfica at home and that 2.4 about 'unders' looks more and more appealing.

Salah in a Bet Builder

It's not often you get this far in a Liverpool preview without mentioning that man Mo Salah. He may have understandably been a bit deflated after Egypt missed out on World Cup qualification and that may explain his quiet game on Saturday.


But this is a much bigger game and 4/5 isn't a bad price about a goalscorer as prolific as him to score in a match where his side are hot favourites.

If you want to give yourself just that little bit more leeway on the goals front, you can get 1/2 there are less than 3.5 goals. As long as one of those is Salah, the double comes to 3.4

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