Bayern Munich are looking to move one step closer towards qualification to the knockout rounds of the Champions League as they take on SL Benfica on Wednesday.

After back-to-back wins over Barcelona and Dynamo Kyiv, Bayern Munich will be aiming for their third consecutive win in the UEFA Champions League when they take SL Benfica on Sunday.

The Bavarians are coming on the back of a thumping 5-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on the weekend, thus regaining their position at the top of the Bundesliga. They will now be hoping to create a significant gap between them and the second-placed Benfica in the Champions League Group E with yet another victory.

Benfica, though, are no slouch, having beaten Barcelona in their last matchday and head into this game in the second position, with four points from two matches. The Portuguese giants will be aiming for at least a point that could put them at an advantage over Barcelona, in the race to finish second in the group.

The Eagles do have the momentum required in such a high-profile game, having secured 21 points in eight matches in Primeira Liga so far. And with the added home advantage at the iconic Estadio da Luz, this promises to be a fascinating encounter between these two powerhouses in Group E.

Team News & Tactics

SL Benfica

Jorge Jesus has had a lot of success with his three-man setup that has offered him solidity at the back as well as more security in possession. The defensive combination of Lucas Verissimo, Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen have the experience to instigate a hyper defensive strategy while offering tactical versatility to the table.

They are set to be aided by the wing-back duo of Andre Almeida and Alejandro Grimaldo, though the latter is likely to be given a more attacking role in the team. The Spaniard’s ability to move forward could be useful, especially on the counter as Benfica look to take advantage of the vulnerable Bayern backline.

Meanwhile, in midfield, Julian Weigl could play a vital role due to his ability to rotate possession and the ability to hurry and hassle the opposing ball-carriers. His midfield partner, Joao Mario, on the other hand, will be dealt with the responsibility of providing the creative essence in the final third.

The Portuguese international could be particularly dangerous from set-pieces, as well as finding the likes of Darwin Nunez and Roman Yaremchuk on the counter, whereas the right-winger Rafa Silva should operate as a runner as well, hoping to exploit the space available on the left-hand side.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Vlachodimos; Verissimo, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Almeida, Mario, Weigl, Grimaldo; Silva, Yaremchuk, Nunez

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Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich are heading into the game with a nearly full-strength squad and that is always a scary thing, especially under the leadership of Julian Nagelsmann.

However, Alphonso Davies has been ruled out due to fatigue, which means Omar Richards might be given a rare opportunity at left-back. The former Birmingham City full-back is set to form the four-man backline alongside Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, who replaces Niklas Sule at right-back.

Another key absentee for Bayern is Leon Goretzka. The former Schalke prodigy has a cold and did not travel with the squad this week. His absence will pave the way for new signing Marcel Sabitzer to get a rare opportunity to start alongside Joshua Kimmich in the middle of the park.

It will be interesting to see how these two gel together, with Sabitzer likely to be given the more attacking role of the two. The Austrian international could be useful in providing forward balls for the in-form Robert Lewandowski, as well as opening up Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry into open spaces in behind the Benfica backline.

Thomas Muller should continue to play a key role as well, hoping to create chances and score goals while operating just in behind the main striker Lewandowski.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Richards; Sabitzer, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski

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Key Stats

  • Robert Lewandowski has scored four goals in two Champions League games in 2021/22. Only Ajax’s former Eintracht Frankfurt striker Sebastien Haller has hit more (five).
  • Julian Nagelsmann’s side are the joint-top scorers after two rounds of fixtures, like Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, on eight goals.
  • Manuel Neuer is yet to concede in this season’s competition. The Bayern captain is fifth in the all-time clean sheets table (49), 10 behind the record-setting Iker Casillas.
  • Bayern are unbeaten in 10 UEFA matches against Benfica, winning three and drawing one of the last four.
  • The record German champions have not lost away in the Champions League in a tournament-record 19 matches, dating back to a 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage (W15, D4).

Player to Watch

Julian Weigl

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 06: Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 06, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Julian Weigl is well aware of Bayern’s dominance. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Julian Weigl has established himself as a fine midfielder since joining SL Benfica at the start of 2020. The German has become a key figure in the club’s midfield department, with his composure, aggression and leadership helping the club earn a valuable win over FC Barcelona in the last matchday.

Being a former Dortmund player, this will always be a special game for Weigl as he looks to star once again. It will be an interesting clash between him and Kimmich in midfield, as both players had enjoyed their respective breakthroughs at the same time before the former eventually moved on to Benfica.

In Portugal, Weigl has transformed himself into a more all-round, physical midfielder. His elite mentality could be paramount if Benfica are to salvage anything from this game.

Prediction

SL Benfica 1-2 Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich could be in for their most difficult match in Group E when they take on Benfica this midweek. The Portuguese giants have the mentality, aggression and tenacity as well as the home advantage that might help them secure yet another upset in the Champions League.

However, the Bavarians rarely get complacent and after a thumping 5-1 win over Leverkusen, they remain the undisputed favourites to win this encounter, with the likes of Sane and Lewandowski set to star once again.

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