It is the 2nd leg of the quarter-finals between Liverpool and Benfica. The two sides lock horns for one last time, this season, in the battle for the last 4.
Jurgen Klopp and his men showed their supreme authority when the last time the two sides faced each other, back in Portugal. Verissimo’s side succumbed to a 3-1 loss owing to a horror defensive show. The home fans were seen leaving the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, whereas the away camp was just buzzing with their team’s show of strength.
However it may have panned out in the first leg of the tie, it is far from over. Champions League Knockout stages tend to bring the best out of the underdogs, and on some occasions worst out of the strong challengers. The best example was last night’s encounter between Villarreal and Bayern, how the Spanish side overcame the pressure from the 6 time champions to go through into the semis. Outrageous!
Similar scenes could pan out at the Anfield if Liverpool loses their bearings. Although, it has not been the case for the majority of the season, but Klopp’s men still have a tendency to play nervy football from the back in turn letting the opposition press them. On the other hand, Verissimo does not have anything to prove anymore. I mean, why should he?! An interim/stand-in manager, taking the team to the quarter-finals of the most prestigious European club competition. A team that no one believed in would come this far!
But they have… And now, they would have to do it one last time against one of the best teams in Europe, to reach the semi-finals. Does Benfica have the pedigree to overcome the 3-1 home defeat and take the fight to Anfield for one of the remarkable comebacks?
When & Where?
VENUE – Anfield
DATE – Wednesday, 13th April 2022.
TIME – 7:00 PM GMT.
Liverpool at Anfield are dangerous and Benfica must be vary by the fact
Jurgen Klopp and his men are eyeing for a number 7 this season, and they have made their intentions loud and clear. And certainly loud enough in the 1st leg for the whole of Portugal to listen, to say the least. And now the Reds will host Benfica in the return leg at Anfield which is just a mountain to climb in itself, let alone what the whole team would do.
“Liverpool do well in Europe because of Anfield. The atmosphere is one of the best.” It seems Arsene Wenger loves the Anfield atmosphere, and why not?! Fans really get behind their players in a fashion that just exemplifies the concept of twelfthman.
Verissimo, however, will be looking to go all-in with his tactics leaving no stones unturned. But it is easier said than done. No matter how much we appreciate the valiant efforts of the Portuguese club to make it this far, we also have to understand the fact that they are going in the match while being 2 goals behind. It is mentally draining to play away from home, with such a deficit. And to play at Anfield, just does not help the cause at all.
Jurgen Klopp has, without any doubt, built a relentless side in Liverpool – who just don’t know when they are beaten. Even though, their last game was a draw against City in the Premier League, there is a whole euphoric feeling around the club- that we can do it. Coming so far, they know that it is too late now to put the foot off the gas.
While Benfica will be going with a free mindset as it is a win-win situation for them under the circumstances, Liverpool’s German gaffer would not accept anything less than a victory and promotion to the semis. And will surely urge his players to go in with the same attitude.
Players to look out for
DARWIN NUNEZ (Benfica)
Darwin Nunez – the Uruguayan striker, often referred to as a player to shares the abilities of both Cavani and Suarez, has broken all scoring grounds this season in particular. The 22-year-old prolific striker leads the Primeira Liga scoring charts with 24 goals in 24 games that he has played in the Benfica colours.
The Uruguayan prodigy, added 3 more goals to his tally when he scored a superb hattrick against Belenenses SAD in the league. While this will boast up his mind blowing goals tally, it will also help his confidence going into the game against Liverpool on Wednesday. The last time Nunez faced Liverpool, in the first leg, he scored the solitary goal for Verissimo’s side and soon earned the plaudits from Jurgen Klopp as well.
No doubt his teammates will be looking to supply him balls from left, right and centre, hoping that the striker could latch onto some of the opportunities and turn them into glory for Benfica in front of the tough Kopites.
LUIS DIAZ (Liverpool)
The breakthrough January signing for the Reds, Luis Diaz has shown his footy prowess whenever he has stepped on to the pitch. It is no fluke to come in a new side, and keep performing at your best week-in, week-out. But the Columbian international has just proved to have done the opposite. It is more than amazing to see how well he has fit in the squad, in such a short span of time.
Often being referred by the Kopites, as Delightful Diaz, he is turning his tables at the Anfield. And it does not come as a surprise to anyone, seeing how well he was performing at Porto prior to his move to Anfield.
Meanwhile, the Columbian International has already scored 2 premier goals and a champions league goal for the Reds. And seeing that he had played in Portugal, against Benfica, it was not a surprise again to see him get on the scoresheet in the 1st leg. While Jurgen Klopp will be hoping more of the same from his star signing, Benfica will be hoping to stop him get forward.
Despite an unforgiving run of fixtures in the month of April, Jurgen Klopp currently boast a fully-fit squad.
Rotations will be seen, as the Reds are just coming from a tiresome weekend match up at the Etihad. The German might consider resting Mane and Jota, in place of Diaz and Firmino, after they both did start against City on Sunday. Adding to that both of the weekend starters are only one yellow card away from missing the next Champions League game. So, Klopp might not risk it given the Reds have already put one foot in the semis.
As for the away camp, Nelson Verissimo still does not have the services of Lucas, Rodrigo and Rafa Siva due to injury. While the rest of the side should remain more or less the same from the 1st leg clash between the two sides, it is possible that Verissimo might still make do with one or two tweaks in the starting line-up.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Diaz.
Benfica: Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Vertonghen, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Goncalves, Weigl, Taarabt, Everton; Ramos, Nunez.