Benfica vs. Chelsea: Why Benfica Can Finish Tie in First Leg

JohnCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:   Bruno Cesar (C) of SL Benfica celebrates after team mate Pablo Aimar scored their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Manchester United and SL Benfica at Old Trafford on November 22, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ahead of their Champions League quarter-final match today at Estadio da Luz, Benfica can and will look to avoid a loss against English giant Chelsea

The Eagles have performed well in this Champions League campaign to date. Finishing atop Group C, Benfica already knocked Manchester United out of the competition. Both the first and second legs against the Red Devils–who finished third in the group–resulted in draws.

The defending champions of the English Premier League have been in much better form this season than Chelsea; Manchester United is poised to raise the league trophy again this season as they hold a three point lead in first place in the league table, 23 points ahead of fifth place Chelsea. 

Chelsea has performed better since Andre Villas-Boas was sacked at the beginning of the month.  They have only lost to Manchester City, a close 2-1 defeat, since Roberto Di Matteo took over the club. 

In the last round of the Champions League, under AVB, they were down 3-1 on aggregate after the first leg against Napoli. Di Matteo took the reigns and guided Chelsea to a 4-1 victory in the second leg where the club advanced to face Benfica. 

Obviously, Chelsea is more than capable of knocking off Benfica. They have experience as many of the players from their runner-up finish in the 2008 Champions League are still with the club. With their improved play as of late, they could be the toughest opponent the Portuguese club has faced since Manchester United. 

Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has had his squad ready to play and certainly would rather go into the return leg in England ahead on aggregate or at least even with Chelsea. 

Since the third round of qualifying for the Champions League, the Eagles have only been defeated in one match. That 3-2 loss came at the hands of Zenit St. Petersburg in the Round of 16, last round.  They have had five draws and six victories in that same time period. 

Thus far, Benfica’s draw in the tournament has been very good for the club. They have avoided European giants including Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona since facing Manchester United.  They have gained confidence along the way and are ready to play. Now, they match up with another English side, which has played out in their favor in the past. 

They have produced good results against a number of Premier League teams in the Champions League. In addition to Man. U., Benfica has also defeated Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool. Adding the Blues to that list would be quite the feat. 

Benfica needs a result in the first leg if they are to advance to the semi-finals of the Champions League. The first leg is a home fixture for Benfica being played at Estadio da Luz. With a loss, it would be quite difficult to get a result at Stamford Bridge in the second leg and advance to the semi-finals.