Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
March 20, 2014; 18:00 BST
Benfica host Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg of their Europa League clash at the Estadio da Luz tomorrow. The Portuguese side already have a massive two-goal lead from the first leg at White Hart Lane, which ended 1-3 in favour of the visitors. But they will have to guard against complacency and finish the job tomorrow to book their place in the next round.
Tottenham Hotspur on the other hand will have to produce one of the most memorable European performances in their history to turn this around. Spurs are under tremendous pressure to perform in this game after suffering three consecutive loses – the last which arrived this weekend against arch rivals Arsenal. Tim Sherwood’s side has lost five of their last seven matches in all competitions and with their hopes of finishing in the top four all but over, this match has gathered greater importance for them.
But it will be tough task to beat the Portuguese side, who are unbeaten in all competitions since November, when they suffered a narrow defeat against Olympiakos. Moreover, they are yet to lose a game at home this season and Tottenham will have to produce something special to change that record.
Team news and tactics
Jorge Jesus doesn’t have any injury concerns ahead of this fixture and has a full squad to choose from. Right back Silvio is the only absentee due to suspension ahead of this fixture after he picked up another yellow card in the first leg of the tie at White Hart Lane.
The Benfica manager is rested some of his key players during their match against Nacional his weekend and he is expected to make three changes to that starting line-up. Miralem Sulejmani and Lubomir Fejsa will start in the three man midfield alongside Ruben Amorin as Enzo Perez and Nicolas Gaitan drops back to the bench. Amorim, Gaitan and Perez are all one booking away from being suspended in the next round, so Jorge Jesus will have to use them wisely.
In attack Oscar Cardozo, who was an unused substitute in the last game, will return to the starting line-up in place of Brazilian forward Lima, who scored the opening goal for Benfica against Nacional. There will be just one change in the Portuguese side’s line-up from the first leg as Maxi Pereira will replace the suspended Silvio as the right back.
Following their wonderful performance in the first leg, Jorge Jesus won’t need to do too much of tactical tinkering to his side for the return leg. But he will look to make sure that his team doesn’t get too complacent following in the return leg and finishes the job at home.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Oblak (GK); Pereira, Garay, Luisao, Siqueira; Amorim, Fejsa, Sulejmani; Markovic, Cardozo, Rodrigo
Unlike Jorge Jesus, Tim Sherwood has a lot of concerns to contain with ahead of this fixture. Tottenham’s injury concerns have multiplied in the past few months, moreover Sherwood has come under a lot of pressure due to poor run of results.
Vlad Chiriches, Mousa Dembele and Etienne Capoue are all out of contention for this game due to fitness concerns, although Dembele is likely to recover before their match against Southampton on Sunday. Michael Dawson is also out injured till the end of this month and the defender is unlikely to return to action before the clash with Sunderland in April.
Sherwood’s trouble is compounded by the fact that Jan Vertonghen is also unavailable for this game as he will serve his European suspension. Erik Lamela is yet to regain full fitness, although he has returned to training, and his return date is yet to be officially announced. Younes Kaboul, Kyle Walker, Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor have all skipped the trip to Lisbon due to various injury concerns and Sherwood will face trouble even putting a decent team together for this game.
The Tottenham manager is expected to make four changes to the starting line-up that he fielded in the loss against Arsenal. Sherwood will have difficulty forming a defence for this game and Sandro is expected to partner Ezekiel Fryers in the center of the defence for this match, while Kyle Naughton retains his place at right back.
Sherwood will have to be adventurous in this match and will have to look for goals from the start. He is likely to switch back to a 4-4-2 formation as field both Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado upfront. In the midfield Eriksen will start alongside Nabil Bentaleb, while Sigurdsson and Townsend start on the wings.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Lloris (GK); Naughton, Sandro, Fryers, Rose; Townsend, Eriksen, Bentaleb, Sigurdsson; Kane, Soldado
Players to watch-out for: Oscar Cardozo (Benfica); Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)
Prediction: Benfica 2-1 Tottenham