Barcelona - Benfica Preview: Eagles may need to end 30-year drought against Spanish opposition to qualify
The Lisbon side last won across the border in 1982 and may well need a repeat of that success on Wednesday if they are to ensure their place in the last 16
By Tom Webber
Montoya, Pique, Puyol, Alba
Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta
Pedro, Messi, Villa
M. Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo
Salvio, Matic, Gaitan, Perez
Benfica will need to at least equal Celtic's result against Spartak Moscow if they are to qualify from Champions League Group G alongside Barcelona, who have already been confirmed as group winners.
Yet Barcelona are expected to name a strong line-up, with Lionel Messi still expected to feature as he chases down Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year.
Martin Montoya may start at right-back as Dani Alves remains sidelined through injury, while Xavi is likely to be given a rest so Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta will line up in midfield. This will enable David Villa to move into the starting line-up, attacking from the left with Pedro from the right.
Knowing they may well need to pick up their first win against Spanish opposition in 30 years, Benfica will name their strongest possible XI. Oscar Cardozo will lead the line alongside Lima and Nicolas Gaitan will play at the tip of a diamond midfield between the duo.
Luisao will make just his second appearance in this season's competition following his two-month suspension for pushing over a referee in pre-season.
|DID YOU KNOW?|Whenever these two clubs have met the winners have gone on to be European champions, beginning with Bela Guttmann's Benfica side in 1961.
- The Eagles have won none of their previous 13 fixtures against Spanish opposition, not picking up a win since victory against Real Betis in the 1982 Uefa Cup.
- Ezequiel Garay (pictured, right) featured for Real Madrid as los Blancos defeated the Catalan side in the 2011 Copa del Rey final.
- After beating the Blaugrana in the 1961 final, Benfica retained their trophy the following with a 5-3 triumph over Real Madrid.
- Barcelona have emerged victorious in their previous 10 encounters at home versus Portuguese opponents.
- Lionel Messi's double on matchday 5 saw him equal Ruud Van Nistelrooy's 56 Champions League goals. Only Raul now lies above the Argentine with 71 strikes in the competition.
- Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano and Messi are the only players to have featured for their side for every minute in Europe this season.
- Barcelona secured their place in the 1992 final with a 2-1 win over a Benfica side coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 3-0 Benfica
- 20.18 %
FC Barcelona 3-1 Benfica
- 14.32 %
FC Barcelona 4-0 Benfica
- 10.04 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 6, 2012||FC Barcelona 0 - Benfica 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 3, 2012||Benfica 0 - FC Barcelona 2|
|Dec 7, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 2, 2013||Athletic de Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 27, 2013||Ajax 2 - FC Barcelona 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|Nov 11, 2013||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 4||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|12||Jonathan Dos Santos||Midfielder|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|