Benfica have an almighty task on their hands if they are to progress past Liverpool in the Champions League quarter finals, though they are doing all they can to gain an upper hand
The Reds take on the Portuguese side at Anfield in the quarter-finals of the competition as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to continue their pursuit of a historic quadruple. But Benfica won’t be a pushover.
Nelson Verissimo’s team beat Ajax, managed by Manchester United managerial target Erik ten Hag, 3-2 in the last round of the competition and can take confidence from that result. However, their nine-game unbeaten run did come to an end last week with a defeat to Braga in the league.
But despite being underdogs on Tuesday, Benfica will be well prepared for the tie thanks to Wolves, according to Portuguese news outlet A Bola. They report that analysts from both sides have been in contact, with the latter having detailed analysis of how Liverpool plays.
Information was exchanged about the positioning of the team in attack and in defence, how the full-backs play, and how the tactics are tweaked when Thiago Alcantara plays. Wolves boss Bruno Lage arrived at the Molineux Stadium from Benfica and worked with their current interim boss Verissimo – who was in the technical team at the time.
The preparation from Benfica puts them in good stead for the tie and there is a sense of positivity heading into the match, which has rubbed off on their players. Their midfielder Adel Taarabt, formerly of Fulham and QPR, recently said: “Liverpool is a team which has been playing four or five years together so I think they have the momentum and know each other very well.
“When I played Liverpool they were an inconsistent team, already a great team but with players coming in and out. This one is more strong.
“They are very experienced players. As well they played many games in England so they know very well the team of Liverpool. It is very important but I think tomorrow we are going to try to do our best and I hope our quality will be very important. The most important thing for us is to be good tactically and as a team.”
But it is not just Benfica that are trying to gain the upper hand over their opponents, as Klopp has admitted that he has been trying to gain the ‘inside track’ on the third-placed Primeira Liga side via Luis Diaz. The Colombian winger will know all about The Eagles as he arrived at Anfield from rivals Porto in the January transfer window.
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Unfortunately for the German though, he wasn’t able to gain any further information about the opponents. Asked about whether he had spoken to Diaz about Benfica, Klopp replied with a grin: “He tried for ten minutes but I didn’t understand a word.”
Liverpool head into the match on the back of a routine 2-0 victory over Watford at the weekend, with Diogo Jota opening the scoring before Fabinho doubling the Reds’ lead from the penalty spot. Klopp will be hoping for a similar mannered win in midweek.