Benfica will be aiming to end their 2020/21 Liga NOS campaign on a winning note when they lock horns with Vitoria Guimaraes on Wednesday evening.

The final round of fixtures in the 2020/21 Liga NOS will be played out this midweek and SL Benfica will be in action at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on Wednesday night where they will face of against Vitoria Guimaraes, hoping to warm up for their upcoming cup final with a victory.

Benfica head into the game on the back of a thrilling 4-3 win over champions Sporting CP this past weekend in the derby. The result made it six games unbeaten in a row for the Eagles, who are certain to finish third and make it to the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League for the next season. With the Taca de Portugal final against SC Braga coming up, Jorge Jesus’ side will look to use this game as preparation for the big game.

Vitoria are sixth in the table heading into the final gameweek. But with Santa Clara level with them on points, they will be hoping to bag a win and qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League, in what will be caretaker manager Moreno’s second game in charge after he took over from Bino last week. However, they haven’t been in the best of form of late, failing to win in their last three fixtures, with the latest one ending in a goalless draw against Maritimo.

The reverse fixture, played in February earlier this year, had ended in a goalless draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between Vitoria and Benfica, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Vitoria SC

Heading into the game, Vitoria have been ravaged by injuries as interim boss Moreno is set to be without Jacob Maddox, Joseph Amoah, Mikel Agu and Nicolas Tie while the likes of Miguel Luis, Silvio and Ruben Lameiras are all major doubts. In addition, Gideon Mensah misses out due to suspension for accumulation of cards.

Vitoria will line up in a 3-4-3 formation against Benfica on Wednesday in front of goalkeeper Bruno Varela. Andre Amaro, Jorge Fernandes and Abdul Mumin ought to form the three-man defensive unit for the hosts, hoping to keep the mighty Benfica attack under the wraps.

Support will come from the wing-backs, Falaye Sacko and Helder Sa, who will drop deep to form a five-man backline during the defensive phases while pushing forward when their team has the ball. Pepelu will be the man tasked with screening the defence for Vitoria, while his partner, Andre Almeida will look to provide the attacking thrust and drive from the centre.

Oscar Estupinan, who is the top scorer for Vitoria with eight goals, will start as the centre-forward. He will be flanked by the dangerous duo of Ricardo Quaresma and Rochinha, who will not only look to create chances for the striker but also pose a goal threat themselves.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Varela; Amaro, Fernandes, Mumin; Sacko, Pepelu, Almeidal Sa; Quaresma, Estupinan, Rochinha

Benfica

Benfica will be without three players for the trip to Vitoria as Jardel, Andre Almeida and Andreas Samaris are all unavailable due to their respective injury problems. Much like their opponents, the Eagles will also line up in a 3-4-3 formation with manager Jorge Jesus likely to set his team up to play on the front foot and dominate the proceedings, although he is likely to give chances to some of his fringe players.

Helton Leite is a certain starter between the sticks for the visiting side, where he will be protected by a three-man defensive unit of Lucas Verissimo, Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen. Gilberto and Nuno Tavares could get the nod as the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, from where they will look to get forward and deliver crosses into the box for the attackers.

Julian Weigl should be stationed in the middle of the park yet again where he will look to shield the defence against the counters. There could be a start for Chiquinho alongside him though, with Adel Taarabt making way for the 25-year-old, who will have the onus of driving the team forward from the centre of the pitch.

Pizzi, who was on target against Sporting last time out, could make way for Darwin Nunez on the right flank while Everton should hold on to his place on the left. Haris Seferovic ought to continue as the centre-forward for Benfica against Vitoria.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leite; Verissimo, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Gilberto, Chiquinho, Weigl, Tavares; Nunez, Seferovic, Everton

Key Stats

  • Benfica have won eleven of their last thirteen matches in Liga NOS.
  • Benfica are undefeated in their last 21 games against Vitoria SC across all competitions.
  • Rochinha has been directly involved in most goals (13) for Vitoria SC in Liga NOS in 2020/21.
  • Benfica have scored at least two goals in their previous six away encounters in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
  • Benfica have kept a clean sheet in nine of their last ten away games against Vitoria in all competitions.

Player to Watch

Darwin Nunez

It has been a promising debut campaign for Darwin Nunez in Portugal. Signed from Spanish second division outfit UD Almeria last summer, the 21-year-old has taken to top-flight football like duck to water, bagging six goals and nine assists from 28 matches in Liga NOS. In addition, he also has eight goals and a couple of assists from cup games and Europa League matches as well, making for an impressive return in his first season at the club.

The youngster, who has been linked with a summer move to Barcelona, will now be hoping to end the league season on a high and stake a claim for a starting berth in the cup final against SC Braga at the weekend with a match-winning display against Vitoria.

Prediction

Vitoria SC 1-2 SL Benfica

Vitoria have not been in the best of form of late but will be pushing for a win to qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League. This could end up playing in the hands of Benfica, who will be high on confidence after the win against the champions at the weekend. With the form that Haris Seferovic has been in of late, the Eagles should be able to get across the line on Wednesday.

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