Why Liverpool will lose to Benfica this evening

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Benfica play Liverpool tonight in the quarterfinals the Europa League, but while many will rate the English side as favourites, the Portugeezer thinks otherwise.

Liverpool areof course  a very good team and the tie will no doubt be incredibly tight, but many factors play against Rafa Benitéz’s side.

Portuguese teams traditionally fare well against English sides.

Yes, both Arsenal and Chelsea beat Porto in the Champions League this season, but let’s not forget Benfica crushed Everton in the Europa League group stages, before Sporting knocked the Toffees out of the competition in the first knock-out round.

Porto and Benfica have both knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League in recent years and, perhaps more intriguingly, four years ago Benfica stunned then-European Champions Liverpool with a 3-0 aggregate success.

Simao (not pictured) scores past Reina in 2006

The two matches will also be a clash of differing styles and that may not be something that works in the favour of Liverpool, currently an inconsistent side who usually shine more brightly on the big occasion when playing the underdog role.

The Reds trashed Real Madrid last year and have been Chelsea’s worst nightmare for the last few years, but this year however they eliminated in a group where they were top seeds.

They are struggling in the league as well, with their fight with Tottenham and Manchester City for the much-coveted fourth place surely their top priority, so they may not be fully focused on their match against Benfica.

The Eagles themselves have been playing attractive football this term.

At home in front of 60,000 roaring supporters, the Eagles will try to attack from the first minute and they boast the options to make Liverpool suffer.

Many of the Benfica ‘stars’ are still unknown in the international arena and that may just provide a surprise boost to the Eagles. It is not a surprise to read Benitéz acknowledging Luisão and Aimar (the more seasoned players) in an interview but the truth is that there are many others, such as David Luiz, Saviola, Javi Garcia and Ramires that may tip the scales in favour of the Eagles.

Benfica have already tasted success this season in the League Cup

Having said that, three titanic individual battles are likely to erupt throughout the two legs and their result may be pivotal to ultimately decide the outcome of the match.

David v Goliath

Fernando Tores is back and that’s never good news for the opposition. Nando is scoring once again, so he’ll most likely cause a lot of problems to Benfica’s defence.

Few people are able to stop Torres, but David Luiz has the ability to at least minimize the damage. He’s strong, quick and good with the feet and while this may be a tremendous test for him, it is also an opportunity to confirm Luiz as one of the best young centre-backs in Europe.

The 22 year-old curly-haired Brazilian has, apart from the odd blunder that his youth still allows, excelled this term and a commanding performance against Liverpool may still grant him a last-minute ticket to South Africa.

Argentinean flair v English resolve

Ángel Di Maria has blossomed this season into a more consistent performer.

Di Maria’s pace, trickery and talent were always there but the winger used to lack end-product and seemed to remain anonymous 80% of the time.

He has improved and Benfica have a meaner edge with the Argentinean.

Glen Johnson, meanwhile, was hailed as the man to finally bring some stability at fullback for Liverpool, and he has quickly established himself as a very reliable defender, when fit.

Argentina's Di Maria would love to see off Liverpool

Will be able to shut out Di Maria? That’s one very interesting duel to follow, but an inspired Di Maria backed by the hot atmosphere of the stadium may be a little too much for the former Chelsea defender, who is renowned for being better offensively than defensively.

Blue Kenyan v The Little Chief

Good, solid nicknames, these. This is a battle for the long-distance runners. These two spend most of their time outrunning their opponents, tackling and doing the dirty work for the sake of the team.

Javier Mascherano is a true holding midfielder, while Ramires is more of a ‘number 8’ that plays on the right side of the midfield, but both will hope their stamina can give their team the upper hand.

Because controlling the midfield is usually the key to controlling possession and dictating play, the one on top may be the player who tastes victory.

Prediction: Benfica 3 Liverpool 1

Benfica have plenty of attacking options and buoyed by their recent results, they’ll be confident to attack and steamroll the red side of Liverpool.

Still, Torres will salvage something from the match and take the decision to England where everything will be settled. More to read...
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