Benfica vs Barcelona preview

October 1, 2012
By: Frank Beresford

Following the goalless draw at Celtic Park, Benfica prepare to welcome one of world’s best sides as they tackle mighty Barcelona at sold out Estadio da Luz.

After reaching the Europa League semis in 2010/2011, the Portuguese giants proved their worth by making it to Champions League quarterfinals last term, and they are now eager to continue the impressive run in European competitions.

As it was announced, the club sold two high-profile players in the summer, with Axel Witsel and Javi Garcia leaving Estadio da Luz, but new signings as well as the old guns have done really well to compensate for the departures.

As a result, Benfica enjoyed a bright start to the season, having climbed to the top of Primeira Liga, while earning a credible draw at Celtic Park in their opening Champions League fixture.

The Eagles may be the underdogs in the clash against Barcelona, but with players like Gaitan, Aimar, Salvio and Rodrigo in the side, they look a good bet to score at least once, with Ladbrokes paying 1.50 (1/2) if that happens.

Oscar Cardozo and Luisao are out through injury and suspension respectively, but Pablo Aimar should start after recovering from injury.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Artur – Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Melgarejo – Perez, Matic, Aimar – Salvio, Rodrigo, Gaitan.

Barcelona may have won every game this season apart from the Super Cup second leg match against Real Madrid, but the Catalans have been far from impressive in the process.

Tito Vilanova’s side were made to work hard for a win in their opening Champions League match against Spartak Moscow, having come from behind to earn a 3-2 victory, and they are clearly in for a difficult night in Lisbon.

Having also come from two goals behind to beat Sevilla at the weekend, Barcelona can be backed at 4.60 (18/5) offered by William Hill to come from behind and draw or win.

The visitors have been handed a major boost as Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Adriano Correia all resumed full training and have been included in the squad to face Benfica.

Thiago Alcantara, on the other hand, is set to miss two months of action after suffering a torn ligament in his right knee.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes – Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba – Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas – Villa, Messi, Pedro.

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