Manuel Veth –
Bayern vs Benfica – Tuesday, November 27, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
The omens all favour Bayern München as they bid to book their place in the round of 16 against Benfica, who need a first win against the German club to maintain their own hopes of a top-two finish in Group E. Bayern, in the meantime, just need one point from the last two matches to 100% guarantee their place in the knockout stage.
On Saturday they faced Fortuna Düsseldorf in the Bundesliga and despite being up 2-0 and 3-1 gave away two points in a 3-3 draw against one of the weakest sides in the Bundesliga. That result has put extreme pressure on head coach Niko Kovac. “It was unacceptable what happened today,” President Uli Hoeneß said after the match.
“Kovac will be our coach on Tuesday and then we will have to take a closer look at the situation. For now, we have to mobilise everything we got for Tuesday’s game and then we will sit down and discuss everything,” Hoeneß added. Ominous words from the Bayern boss that do not exactly sound like a vote of confidence for Niko Kovac.
Hampered by injuries and bad tactical decisions Bayern are having their worst season in recent memory, and are currently just fifth in the Bundesliga. Yet, when it comes to the Champions League, they are two points ahead of second-place Ajax in Group E and are huge -400 favourites to pick up the full three points versus Benfica (+1100) next Tuesday and fourth in the general table to win the whole tournament with odds at +900.
They just defeated the Portuguese side 2-0 in Lisbon and looked much the stronger team, scoring just ten minutes in and controlling 57% of possession throughout. Even without Thiago Alcantara, James Rodriguez, Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso, there’s plenty of firepower on this Bayern team to handle Benfica at home. Bet on a multi-goal win at -130.
Benfica, in the meantime, need a win to stay alive in the group. The Portuguese runner-ups had the weekend off after playing on Thursday in the Taça de Portugal Placard where they defeated second division side FC Arouca. Head coach Rui Vitória fielded a mostly experimental side in that one and Bayern scouts will have gotten very little inkling on what sort of starting eleven the 48-year-old head coach will field against Bayern.
Going by league form, however, Bayern should have very little to worry about from Benfica. The 36 times Portuguese champions are currently fourth in the Liga NOS standings with 20 points from ten games. Four points behind champions Porto Benfica have been somewhat inconsistent this season.
It is an inconsistency that Bayern, despite their own problems, will benefit from. As stated above anything but an easy victory by the Rekordmeister at the Allianz Arean would be considered a major surprise and would put further pressure on head coach Niko Kovac
Bayern vs Benfica – Players to look out for:
Renato Sanches #35 – Bayern München
Renato Sanches started in the return fixture of this game and was one of the best players on the field. Given a standing ovation by the fans of his former club Benfica Kovac could once again opt to start the talented Portuguese midfielder. Renato Sanches has made some headways this season after a horrible year on loan at Swansea City. With Bayern missing key midfielders Thiago, James, and Tolisso, as well as Javi Martínez struggling for form, don’t be surprised if Sanches could be the solution for more pace and creativity against Benfica once again.
Jonas #10 – Benfica
Brazilian striker Jonas missed the start of the season with a neck problem. But the 34-year-old was on the field against Arouca on Thursday and scored one goal and assisted on the other guiding his team to victory. The veteran has scored 127 goals in 160 games for Benfica, and his return has been crucial for Benfica.
Bayern vs Benfica – Match Stats
- The German club are now unbeaten in nine matches against their Portuguese opponents and moved top of Group E with a 2-0 defeat of AEK Athens last time out. Bayern have ten points, two ahead of Ajax, with Benfica on four; AEK are bottom having lost all their games.
- The 2-0 home win against AEK was Bayern’s first European success in Munich in four games. They won their first four in 2017/18, drawing with Sevilla in the quarter-final second leg and losing to Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg before this season’s draw against Ajax.
- Benfica have won only three of their last 15 continental fixtures (D3 L9).
- Before this season, Benfica had lost four successive European away games, all without scoring, and were without a win in five. Despite the victories at PAOK and AEK, they have won only three of their last 12 fixtures outside Portugal (D2 L7).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Bayern vs Benfica – 2-1
Bayern vs Benfica – Lineups
Neuer – Alaba, Boateng, Süle, Rafinha – Renato Sanches, Kimmich, Müller – Gnabry, Lewandowski, Robben
Head Coach: Niko Kovac
Vlachodimos – Grimaldo, Jardel, Ruben Dias, André Almeida – Pizzi, Fejsa, Gabriel – Cervi, Jonas, Rafa Silva
Head Coach: Rui Vitória
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga 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. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.