Benfica vs Celtic

November 19, 2012
By: John Hansen

In-form Benfica have no choice but to win this game if they are to keep their qualifying hopes alive, but the Eagles are likely to face a tough task against hard-working Celtic. The Bhoys have improved a great deal on their European showings and they would virtually secure their place in the next stage with one point from Estadio da Luz.

Do or die for Benfica

Benfica are slowly becoming a genuine force to be reckoned with, not only in Portugal, but also in European competitions. After reaching the Europa League semis in 2010/2011, the Eagles made it to Champions League quarter-finals last term, thus proving their worth in Europe’s elite competition. Jorge Jesus’ side have done well to keep up with Porto in Primeira Liga this season, but their European showing left a lot to be desired. While doing well to beat Spartak Moscow at home, Benfica have struggled to create chances in other three group games, scoring just one more goal in the process. The Eagles have really improved at the back, keeping five straight clean sheets, but there is every chance they will struggle to break what should be a defence-minded Celtic side, meaning low-scoring game looks on the cards.

Maxi Pereira, Nemanja Matic and Enzo Perez are all injury doubts, but Pablo Aimar and Carlos Martins are definitely out. Captain Luisao is set to feature after his two-month ban expired.

Glorious victory over Barcelona

Having been placed in the same group as Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, Celtic were widely tipped to finish the campaign in fourth place, mostly because nobody believed the Bhoys would bring a single point from their travels. Nevertheless, Neil Lennon seems to have found a cure for team’s travel sickness, as the Bhoys not only came close to frustrating Barcelona at Camp Nou, but also managed to bring all three points from Moscow. Having also recorded a magnificent victory over the Catalans at Parkhead, Celtic go into this game high on confidence, knowing that one point would virtually see them qualify for the next round. It is for that reason that the visitors will be defending in numbers, while looking for their chance on the break.

Scott Brown, Joe Ledley and Gary Hooper all return, whereas boss Neil Lennon has no fresh injury worries.


Benfica desperately need a win here, but with several creative players missing, they will have problems against very organized Celtic side. The Bhoys will do everything they can to bring one point from Estadio da Luz, but they might just have to settle for a narrow defeat.

Top pick: Under 3 goals   1.75 (3/4) @ 188BET

Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals   2.20 (6/5) @ SkyBet

Alternative pick 2: Benfica to win by one goal   4.00 (3/1) @ bet365

If Gary Hooper scores first or last in the match between Benfica and Celtic, Ladbrokes will refund losing first goalscorer stakes, as a free bet, up to £100.

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