Benfica - Spartak Moscow Preview: Eagles know European campaign hinges on home comforts
The Portuguese giants have to secure victory at Estadio Da Luz or face the prospect of an early exit from this year's competition at the hands of their Russian counterparts
By Harry Slavin
Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Luisinho
Lima, Perez, Cesar
Makeev, Insaurralde, Pareja, Kombarov
Jurado, Ari, Bil'yov
Jorge Jesus will be forced into make a couple of changes to his Benfica side as they prepare for the arrival of Spartak Moscowin a game that the home side must win in order to stand any realistic chance of progressing from Group G.
The Eagles warmed up for their Champions League clash with a routine victory over Vitoria de Guimaraes in the league but their 3-0 win came at a cost as Carlos Martins limped off just before half-time with a thigh problem.
That injury, doubled with Nemanja Matic’s suspension, leaves a void in Benfica’s midfield which could be filled by promising 18 year-old Andre Gomes who has impressed since making his debut in the Portuguese Cup last month.
The Portugal Under-19s starlet scored on his debut against Freamunde and netted in his first Primeira Liga start at Gil Vicente before being dismissed for a dangerous challenge at the weekend.
Luisinho is expected to continue at left-back in place of the injured Melgarejo who is still sidelined along with a host of key figures for the hosts including Pablo Aimar, Nolito and central defender Luisao, whose eight week ban expires later this month.
Meanwhile, Spartak Moscow strolled to a 5-0 victory in their match against Krylya Sovetov at the weekend, their biggest away success in over a decade, but will find a much sterner test in prospect at Estadio Da Luz on Wednesday evening.
Juan Insaurralde and Artem Dzyuba are both back in contention for the visitors after serving a suspension and fighting off a cold respectively.
However, there is still no sign of Aiden McGeady returning to action after picking up a foot injury while on international duty for Republic of Ireland and he misses out along with long-term casualties Romulo, Sergei Parshivlyuk and Soslan Gatagov.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Oscar Cardozo (pictured, right) is Benfica’s top scorer so far this season with six goals in six league appearances.
- Benfica have committed more fouls than any other team in the Champions League this season, impeding their opponents on no less than 52 occasions.
- The Aguias have never lost three European home matches on the spin in their history but are in danger of setting an unwanted record on Wednesday having lost to Chelsea and Barcelona in their two previous home encounters.
Spartak Moscow have the joint worst defence in this year’s Champions League having leaked seven goals already. Only Manchester City, Dinamo Kiev and Nordsjælland have matched this.
- The capital club have got good memories of Lisbon, having claimed victories over Benfica’s neighbours Sporting in both their 2000-01 and 2006-07 campaigns.
Spartak have announced they have reached an agreement with BK Hacken to sign forward Abdul Waris Majeed subject to a medical. The Ghanaian was the top scorer in the Allsvenskan this season scoring 23 times in 29 appearances.
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Top 3 Predictions
Benfica 2-0 Spartak
- 15.24 %
Benfica 2-1 Spartak
- 14.29 %
Benfica 1-1 Spartak
- 10 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 7, 2012||Benfica 2 - Spartak 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 23, 2012||Spartak 2 - Benfica 1|
|Mar 9, 2014||Benfica 2 - G D Estoril Praia 0||POR1|
|Mar 2, 2014||Belenenses 0 - Benfica 1||POR1|
|Feb 27, 2014||Benfica 3 - PAOK 0||EL|
|Feb 24, 2014||Benfica 1 - Vitoria Guimarães 0||POR1|
|Feb 20, 2014||PAOK 0 - Benfica 1||EL|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
|35||Enzo Nicolás Pérez||Midfielder|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|
|29||Juan Manuel Insaurralde||Defender|
|20||Demy de Zeeuw||Midfielder|