Football

3 Benfica players to watch out for in Champions League tie against Liverpool

Benfica have been causing quite the upset in Europe this season. They face Liverpool tonight in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

It comes after the Portuguese club knocked out high-flying Ajax. The first encounter between the sides ended 2-2 in Portugal. Benfica then won 1-0 in Amsterdam to secure a 3-2 aggregate victory.

In the group stages, the Primeira Liga side finished second in Group E. They were no match for Bayern Munich, who finished top with six wins from six.

But they had enough in the tank to edge second place ahead of Barcelona. That was achieved through two wins, two draws, and two losses.

Benfica now host a Liverpool side who won all six of their group matches. But which players could shine for the hosts on the night?

Darwin Nunez

First and foremost, Darwin Nunez is undoubtedly the man to keep an eye on. The striker is having a sensational season in front of goal. He will ensure Virgil van Dijk is kept on his toes all evening.

Nunez has 27 goals in all competitions this season. Four of those have come in the Champions League. He’s deadly, direct, and a lethal finisher. Liverpool must be switched on at all times, with the striker capable of finishing with his head or with either foot.

Although he has already impressed in Europe, tonight’s meeting could well be his trial for a huge future. Countless top clubs are chasing his signature, and his price tag may just soar even higher should he hit the headlines against the Reds.

Benfica

Rafa Silva

Versatile forward Rafa Silva boasts double figures for both goals and assists this season. He can play anywhere across the front line, and has been a regular for his side throughout this campaign.

Silva has 12 goals in all competitions, but it is his creative abilities that Liverpool must pay attention to. The winger has 16 Primeira Liga assists to his name this season.

Alejandro Grimaldo

Left-back Alejandro Grimaldo is another who likes to create. His first role is to defend, but he enjoys getting forward down the left. He assisted Nunez’s winner in the last round against Ajax with a pinpoint free-kick from out wide.

Jurgen Klopp will know all about attacking full-backs thanks to his duo of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. So that side will definitely be one to keep an eye on. The Spaniard has eight assists this season.

Ex-Premier League players looking to shine for Benfica

Along with those players looking to do damage to the Reds, there are a handful of ex-Premier League players who will be out to prove themselves.

Defensive duo Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen look set to start at the heart of the defence. The former, in particular, has been given a torrid time from the Liverpool forwards over the years.

And in front of them, QPR hero Adel Taarabt will be looking to have an impact. His skills and superb solo goals helped etch his name into Premier League folklore not so long ago.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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