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Two sides in completely different moments of form clash on Saturday for a pre-season cup...

Kick-Off: Saturday, August 8, 2009. 20:00CET
Estadio da Luz, Lisbon

Benfica welcome AC Milan in the second edition of the Eusebio Cup, a two-team competition that pays tribute to the legendary Portuguese player who graced the stages in the 1960's and 1970's. The first edition curiously went to Milan's bitter rivals, Inter, who beat Benfica 6-5 in penalty shoot-out after a goalless 120 minutes.

High Hopes

Many changes have happened at the Estadio da Luz since the end of last season and, oddly enough, it seems that this time it was for the better.

A new coach [Jorge Jesus] has been brought in to replace Quique Flores, and he may not be producing miracles, but the team have certainly improved.

Benfica have won three pre-season pieces of silverware this summer, including the prestigious Amsterdam Tournament trophy, and confidence appears to be high among the club's fans.

In the attack, ex-Real Madrid striker Javier Saviola has been forming a deadly partnership with Oscar Cardozo, who has been finding goals easy to come by this pre-season. Keirrison, who is on loan from Barcelona, is also another option, but he has yet to shine for the club.

In the midfield, former Real Madrid holding man Javi Garcia and Brazil international Ramires are the only additions to a sector that also contains the likes of Pablo Aimar and Angel di Maria, while in defence the main question marks pertain to the left side. Jorge Jesus is unhappy with his current options available and will likely deploy David Luiz there.

Kakaless Squad

If Benfica have been riding high on form this summer, the same cannot be said about their opponents, AC Milan. The Rossoneri will be looking to make amends for recent disappointments, which have come in all shapes and sizes this pre-season.

The Italian outfit are still trying to adapt to life without Kaka after losing the Brazilian star to Real Madrid earlier in the summer.

In seven pre-season encounters, AC Milan have only won once, and coach Leonardo is already starting to feel the anger of the fans, who want a new playmaker to replace Kaka. Milan's biggest signing this summer is that of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but the former Ajax striker will not be in action against Benfica.

To add to Milan's problems, Brazilian star Ronaldinho, who had vowed to show his professionalism to the cub, was reportedly spotted at a night club in Barcelona this week. It was expected that Leonardo would leave him out of the match, but he has been included in the 20-man squad for the tie.

Milan will be desperate to return to winning ways but they will not find a gift-wrapped victory against Benfica, who have already defeated Ajax and Shakhtar Donetsk this pre-season.

FORM

Benfica


02/08/09 Benfica 2-0 Vitoria Guimaraes (Friendly)

01/08/09 Benfica 4-0 Portsmouth (Friendly)

26/07/09 Ajax 2-3 Benfica (Friendly)

24/07/09 Sunderland 0-2 Benfica (Friendly)

21/07/09 Benfica 1-2 Atletico Madrid (Friendly)

AC Milan

30/07/09 Boca Juniors 1-1 (4-3) AC Milan (Friendly)

29/07/09 AC Milan 1-4 Bayern Munich (Friendly)

26/07/09 AC Milan 0-2 Inter Milan (Friendly)

26/07/09 AC Milan 1-2 Chelsea (Friendly)

23/07/09 AC Milan 1-2 Club America (Friendly)

TEAM NEWS

Benfica

Benfica will feature an almost full-strength squad, with right-back Maxi Pereira (recovering from injury) and Pedro Mantoras, on away duty with the Angola national squad, the only absentees.

Jorge Jesus is likely to deploy Ruben Amorim as his right full-back for this match. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar, signed from Belenenses for €500,000, is likely to start his first match for the club.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Julio Cesar; Ruben Amorim, Luisao, Sidnei, David Luiz; Javi Garcia, Ramires, Pablo Aimar, Di Maria; Javier Saviola, Oscar Cardozo.

AC Milan

Christian Abbiati, Kakha Kaladze, Massimo Ambrosini,  Daniele Bonera, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi are all recovering from minor knocks and will not play this match.

Coach Leonardo has left Dida and Clarence Seedorf out of his squad  plans for this match.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Marco Storari; Massimo Oddo,  Nesta, Onyewu, Thiago Silva; Antonini, Flamini, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Pato, Borriello.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Benfica - Angel di Maria - The creative winger has been in good form this season and many of Benfica's attacking solutions have come from his feet. It will be interested to see how he will perform here, amid reports linking Barcelona with an interest in the player.

AC Milan - Andrea Pirlo - With several key members unavailable for this match, the 30-year-old will have the duty of commanding the side's fragile attack.

PREDICTION

Benfica have been in great form this pre-season, so they should be in a better moment than Milan, who will not only miss several key players, but have also been very disappointing of late.

Benfica 2-1 Milan

Luís Mira, Goal.com

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