Manuel Veth –
Benfica vs RB Leipzig – Tuesday, September 17, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon, Portugal
It was an easy 2-0 victory for Benfica on the weekend against Gil Vicente. A warmup match ahead of what will be yet another encounter with a German side.
Third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, behind surprise package Famalicão and Porto, Benfica have collected 12 points from the first five games. Overall, Benfica are still somewhat looking for their form after selling João Felix for €126 million to Atlético Madrid this summer.
Benfica may have won four out of the first five games, but one of the defeats came against rivals Porto. One problem has been the lack of goals in last year’s goalscorer Haris Seferović. Not good news when one considers that Benfica struggled last season against German clubs.
First Benfica were dismantled twice by Bayern Munich in the Champions League and then were eliminated by Eintracht Frankfurt from the Europa League despite a 4-2 home win. Against RB Leipzig, Benfica would like to turn around their recent run against German clubs.
RB Leipzig were the first club in the history of the Champions League to qualify for the group stage after their first year in the topflight. Two years ago the club failed to get out of the group stage, now two years later Leipzig have ambitions to reach the round of 16.
“Everybody expects Leipzig to march through the group,” Oliver Mintzlaff told kicker this week. “But it won’t be that easy, the opponents are good teams,” Mintzlaff added. “Nonetheless, we have ambitions to reach the next round,” Mintzlaff concluded.
Under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann, RB Leipzig lead the Bundesliga after four games played and held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw in the Topspiel on the weekend. In that game, Leipzig, however, were second best for much of the first 45 minutes and only found their groove in the second half.
Despite the first 45 minutes, Nagelsmann will likely use the Bayern game as the tactical blueprint for the game on Tuesday. It is a plan that could work against a Benfica side that somewhat lacks the quality that Bayern put on display on Saturday.
Benfica vs RB Leipzig – Players to look out for:
Raúl de Tomás #10 – Benfica
Raúl de Tomás was signed for €20 million from Real Madrid this summer. On loan at Rayo Vallecano last two seasons Raúl de Tomás scored 14 goals in 33 LaLiga games last season and 24 goals in 32 LaLiga2 games the year prior de Tomás was brought in to replace João Felix this summer. The forward, however, has not yet scored in the first five competitive games for Benfica this season.
Timo Werner #11 – RB Leipzig
Timo Werner has been on fire this season. The striker scored five goals in the first four Bundesliga games. But against Bayern on Saturday Werner was left off the scoreboard. Werner recently renewed his contract at RB Leipzig until 2023 but has an exit-clause next season. Werner struggled the last time the club played in the Champions League and if he wants to increase his transfer value needs to impress in Europe this season.
Benfica vs RB Leipzig – Match Stats
- Although this is the teams’ first competitive meeting, they met in a summer 2017 friendly, Leipzig winning 2-0 in London with Marcel Halstenberg scoring one of the goals.
- The first leg against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League last year was the first time Benfica had scored more than one goal in normal time in 15 European games in Lisbon, managing just 11 in total during that sequence.
- The Eagles have lost only one of their last eight European home matches (W4 D3), although that sole defeat came at the hands of German opposition on matchday one last season, Bayern running out 2-0 winners.
- Benfica have vast experience against German opposition, their 48 UEFA matches having yielded 14 wins, 14 draws and 20 defeats. They have lost only three of the 23 games played at home (W12 D8).
- Leipzig became the first team to make their European debut in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2017/18, when they picked up seven points to finish third in a section including Beşiktaş, Porto, and Monaco.
- Leipzig have won only three of their 12 European away matches (D4 L5).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Benfica vs RB Leipzig – 1-2
Benfica vs RB Leipzig – Lineups
Vlachodimos – Grimaldo, Ferro, Ruben Dias, André Almeida – Taarabt, Fejsa – Rafa, Pizzi – Seferović, de Tomas
Head Coach: Bruno Lage
Gulacsi – Orban, Konaté, Mukiele – Halstenberg, Laimer, Klostermann – Forsberg, Sabitzer – Werner, Poulsen
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.