Spartak Moscow could still return into contention for the second place in Group G despite losing their first two games, but a win over Benfica is a must if the Russians are to avoid early elimination. The Portuguese giants picked up one point from two difficult fixtures and they, too, need to try and win in Moscow if they want to remain in the fight for a place in the knockout stages.
Spartak a genuine attack-minded side
As the Russian Premier League started to improve in recent years so did Spartak Moscow, with a number of high-profile players arriving to the club over the last few years. Club chiefs made a bold decision in bringing Unai Emery to replace Valery Karpin given the impressive showings under the Russian legend, and the former Valencia coach has yet to get the maximum out of this side. While Spartak also played attacking football under Karpin, it was the new boss who was brave enough to deploy attack-minded tactics in every single game, and even if the results may not be impressive, the fans are at least guaranteed goals in Spartak’s games. Considering that at least three goals were scored in 12 of team’s last 14 matches, there is every chance we will see another high-scoring match. Following the 3-2 defeats to both Barcelona and Celtic, Spartak will be hoping they fare at least a big better against Benfica.
Centre-back Juan Insaurralde is suspended after he was sent off against Celtic, but striker Emmanuel Emenike could return after missing the Anzhi game through back pain.
Benfica still in good position
Benfica are slowly becoming a real force to be reckoned with in both Portugal and Europe, and it is only a matter of time before the Eagles entered the race for one of the major trophies. Jorge Jesus’ side have been playing great football this season, but they could only take one point from first two Champions League games, despite playing well against both Celtic and Barcelona. Nothing is lost yet as Benfica can get back into contention with three points from Moscow and that is precisely what they are looking to do. The team are in good spirits after winning their last two domestic games, even if they are currently leaking more goals than they should. Understanding that Spartak Moscow have got some great attackers as well, Benfica are well aware they will need to score at least a couple of goals to win this game.
Carlos Martins and Nolito have been added to the injury list that already consisted of Pablo Aimar and Alan Cardec.
The two sides are well known for their positive approach and with both teams desperate for a win, we should see a very open game. In a match between two sides with plenty of attacking power, but with leaky back lines, I see a great value on betting on over 2.5 goals.
Our prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 1.95 (19/20)
Bookmaker: Stan James