Benfica will host RB Leipzig at the Estadio da Luz in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.
The Portuguese champions will look to exert their dominance on the continental stage as well. Benfica beat Porto to the Primeira Liga crown last season in a close title race. A run of consecutive wins towards the end saw them pip Porto to the title by two points. Along with Porto, Benfica have dominated the domestic landscape in Portugal. They have won five out of the last six league titles with Porto having won the other.
But in recent years, they have made their mark in the Europa League rather than the Champions League. Benfica reached the Europa League final in 2013 and 2014 but failed to win either time. Chelsea and Sevilla claimed victories in those two years. They were in the Champions League for five consecutive seasons from 2014 but failed to progress past the round of 16. Last season saw them return to the Europa League again. They reached the quarter-final where Eintracht Frankfurt knocked them out.Embed from Getty Images
Benfica are second in the league this season after five games. Newly promoted Famalicao top the table to the surprise of many, but Benfica are just a point behind. Their last match was against Gil Vicente, which they won 2-0. Ygor Nogueira and Pizzi netted the goals for Benfica to hand them the three points. They have coped well with the departure of Joao Felix, and look favourites for the Primeira Liga yet again.
Unlike Benfica, Leipzig have no European history to fall back on. They have made long strides in the last couple of years and now will embark upon their second Champions League campaign. The club itself was founded a decade ago, so the rise has been tremendous for Leipzig. As of now, they are in first place in the Bundesliga. They finished third last season to seal their Champions League berth.Embed from Getty Images
Under new manager Julian Nagelsmann, they have impressed this season. They have picked up 10 out of a possible 12 points. A draw against Bayern Munich on Saturday stopped their winning streak. Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern the lead, but Emil Forsberg rescued a point for Leipzig. Forsberg is the creative heartbeat of the side, and he plays behind an attacking trio of Marcel Sabitzer, Youssouf Poulsen, and Timo Werner.
Werner is in great form, and he scored five times in the first three league games. Leipzig’s last Champions League campaign came back in 2017 when they bowed out in the group stage. However, they have won in their only visit to Portugal which happened in that season. Nagelsmann will hope for a similar result this time.
Benfica vs RB Leipzig Prediction
Both sides are in great form, and it will be a close game. The total goals should be over 2.5 in the game, and both sides will find the back of the net. Benfica will be favorites to nick a close win to open their campaign with the three points.