Benfica vs. Chelsea: 5 Players to Watch in the Champions League Quarterfinal
On Tuesday, Chelsea face Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
The Blues will be aiming to bounce back from their recent league setbacks against Manchester City and Tottenham. The Portuguese side will also want to come back from their weekend draw at Olhanense.
Both Chelsea and Benfica lost the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash before coming back in the reverse fixture. But while Benfica had a relatively simple 2-0 win against Zenit St. Petersburg, Chelsea had to work very hard as they won 4-1 against Napoli in a 5-4 aggregate score.
I don't know what to expect from the first leg of this quarterfinal but it will certainly be a great encounter as both teams will attack and try to get the advantage.
Without further ado, here is my list of five players to watch in the Benfica-Chelsea match.
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Ramires has undoubtedly been one of Chelsea's best players this season. The Brazilian has been a driving force in the Blues' midfield and has scored eight goals.
Chelsea bought Ramires from Benfica in a €22 million deal two years ago and have already gotten their money's worth out of the player.
Ramires may not be in his best form right now, with his last goal coming in early January, but you can expect him to put in a good performance against his former club.
Oscar Cardozo (Benfica)
If there's one man to be afraid of from Benfica, it is Oscar Cardozo. The Paraguayan striker has an unbelievable goalscoring record this season, with 22 goals in 24 total appearances.
The frightening thing for Chelsea is that Cardozo has not only been great in the Portuguese league but also in the Champions League. In his seven appearances in Europe (five starts), the striker scored four goals.
Chelsea's defense will need to be at its best to deal with Cardozo on Tuesday.
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Frank Lampard may not be at his very best anymore but remains a great technical midfielder. The 33-year-old has been at Chelsea for over a decade and it doesn't look like he will be retiring any time soon.
Lampard has received huge amounts of criticism this season, with calls for the player to leave room for younger, faster center midfielders. But the English midfielder, even though he has not been at his best, already has 13 goals and 7 assists this season.
Chelsea fans will hope that Lampard can reciprocate his performance from the Napoli match, in which the midfielder both scored and assisted.
Luisao has been superb for Benfica since joining the Portuguese side in 2003. The Brazilian center-back has over 300 appearances for Benfica and, even at 31-years-old, remains one of Europe's best defenders.
While Chelsea may take a more cautious attacking approach in Lisbon, there's no doubt that the Blues will threaten up front. The center-back combination of Luisao and Jardel will need to be at its best to keep out the likes of Drogba, Mata, and Lampard.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
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While Fernando Torres has played well recently, I feel that Drogba is more likely to start in Lisbon. The Ivorian may have played poorly against Tottenham on Saturday but will probably still be picked as the Londoners' starting striker.
Drogba was the man-of-the-match in Chelsea's home match against Napoli, with a goal and an assist. While his form this season has been very inconsistent, it is not uncommon for Drogba to play superbly in big games.
If the 34-year-old is at his best, Benfica's defenders will have a very hard time keeping a clean sheet.