After getting the better of Manchester United in the Group Stages, confidence is sky high among Benfica players that they could repeat a similar feat against struggling Chelsea when the two sides meet tonight in one of two Champions League quarter final fixtures.
A loss to Man City in mid week action followed by a barren draw at home to Tottenham has left the Blues 5 points behind the North London side who hold the 4th and final Champions League qualifying slot.
Speaking to Goal.com Benfica midfielder Javi Martinez oozed confidence when asked about his team’s chances of making it through to the semis.
“This year we have already knocked out Manchester United in the group stage. Let’s see if we can carry on our good results against English teams in the quarter-finals,” he told Goal.com.
Of course, the pressure is on stand in coach Roberto Di Matteo to ensure his charges make it through to the semis for the 5th time in 8 years without having to do it all in the return leg.
To do this, Di Matteo has put his faith in his senior players. Led by Terry, Lampard and Drogba, Di Matteo believes that has in those three players all the tools he needs to give fans something to smile about.
“The season has been very difficult for us,” Di Matteo said.
“Everybody seems to have an opinion, and they have that right, but I disagree. I believe in my team, my squad, my players. I don’t think we’re a weak team, not at all. We have, still, many games to play in the Premier League to reach fourth, and two games in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. It looked a little gloomier two weeks ago, so we’re pleased to be here.”
There really is nothing to separate both sides. A look into both clubs last 5 matches reveals just how tight tonight’s fixture will be. In their last 5 matches, both clubs have won 3 drawn 1 and lost 1.
Benfica are unbeaten at home in the Champions League this season, while Chelsea are yet to win an away match in the tournament this season. Moreover, the top strikers for both clubs are experiencing a barren spell.
Benfica’s Rordrigo has only scored 8 times in the Premeira Liga this season while Chelsea’s Didier Drogba has only managed 5 in 20 games. Taking all these factors into consideration, picking a clear winner is not an easy task. However, in spite of all the facts and numbers, Chelsea still remain favourites to make it through to the semis.
My prediction, 2-1 in favour of Chelsea.
photo credit © Catatan Bola Photo Gallery