After playing out a tight first leg, Fenerbahce will make the trip to Portugal this week to take on Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League semifinal.
The home side gave very little away in the 1-0 victory but will know that their trip to Lisbon this week won't be easy given the dominance that Benfica have shown at home this season—both in the domestic competition and in their European matches.
Both sides will know that this match represents one of their better chances for European silverware, and will be desperately making sure that they don't slip up here.
If the first leg was anything to go by, we're in for a very tight and close-fought affair, where the pressure and tension is no doubt going to play a huge role in determining whose European dream stays alive and whose falls just short of the final in Amsterdam.
Read on for a full preview of this Europa League semifinal including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis, predictions and more!
Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Start time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisbon, Portugal
Live Stream and TV Information
Fox Soccer Plus, and SiriusXM FC will both provide coverage of this match throughout the United States, according to Live Soccer TV.
ITV 4 and ITV Live Streaming will also do the same in the U.K.
A live stream of this fixture can be found through Fox Soccer 2Go.
2012-13 European Season so Far
|Draw, 0-0 vs. Celtic (A)*||Draw, 2-2 vs. Marseille (H)|
|Loss, 2-0 vs. Barcelona (H)*||Win, 4-2 vs. Monchengladbach (A)|
|Loss, 2-1 vs. Spartak Moscow (A)*||Win, 1-0 vs. AEL Limassol (A)|
|Won, 2-0 vs. Spartak Moscow (H)*||Win, 2-0 vs. AEL Limassol (H)|
|Won, 2-1 vs. Celtic (H)*||Win, 1-0 vs. Marseille (A)|
|Draw, 0-0 vs. Barcelona (A)*||Loss, 3-0 vs. Monchengladbach (H)|
|Won, 1-0 vs. Bayer Leverkusen (A)||Draw, 0-0 vs. BATE Borisov (A)|
|Won, 2-1 vs. Bayer Leverkusen (H)||Win, 1-0 vs. BATE Borisov (H)|
|Won, 1-0 vs. Bordeaux (H)||Win, 1-0 vs. Viktoria Plzen (A)|
|Won, 3-2 vs. Bordeaux (A)||Draw, 1-1 vs. Viktoria Plzen (H)|
|Won, 3-1 vs. Newcastle (H)||Win, 2-0 vs. Lazio (H)|
|Draw, 1-1 vs. Newcastle (A)||Draw, 1-1 vs. Lazio (A)|
|Loss, 1-0 vs. Fenerbahce (A)||Win, 1-0 vs. Benfica (H)|
|TBD vs. Fenerbahce (H)||TBD vs. Benfica (A)|
*denotes played in UEFA Champions League
Key Player to Watch: Oscar Cardozo, ST, Benfica
Oscar Cardozo has been used off the bench and in starting positions for Benfica this year, but he has seemingly locked up a spot in their regular first team over the past few weeks thanks to a strong showing in the Europa League—something he'll no doubt look to build upon at home here.
The Paraguay international is a great target at the top of the attack for Benfica to hit and has proven to be a real handful throughout the competition thus far.
Fenerbahce were able to keep him under wraps in the first leg, but at home, he'll be very tough to stop in the second leg. Cardozo has netted 19 goals in 23 appearances for Benfica this year, with 13 of those coming in front of his home crowd.
If Benfica are to come back and erase their deficit, they're going to need to attack a great deal here, and Cardozo is the man who'll be targeted the most as a result—a real make-it or break-it game for the striker.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: Can Benfica's Home Form Hold Up?
Benfica might be trailing on aggregate here, but they'll definitely like their chances of getting past the away side in this one given their home form in 2013.
Their only home loss in European competition this year was to Barcelona, and they have won all of their home wins in the Europa League competition by a combined score of 6-2 and have not lost a home game in the Europa League in their last three campaigns.
Domestically, those become even more staggering for Benfica, who are yet to be beat in the Portuguese competition this season. They have scored 38 goals in 13 home matches and have conceded just seven against—averaging a clean sheet in over half their home games this year, which won't exactly bode well for Fenerbahce in this one.
Benfica are a dominant force at home and they'll know how big of an advantage they have. Look for them to dominate the attacking chances and bully the Turkish giants' midfield all night as they desperately search for those crucial goals.
Can their home form get them through to the Europa League final?
Three Stats to Consider
5. Five of the past six Europa League finalists have trailed at some point in their semifinal tie.
0. No away team has ever won in Lisbon in the Europa League.
6. Benfica might have a dominant home record, but Fenerbahce have won their last six away games. Should they win here, they would set an Europa League record.
At home, it seems hard to go past Benfica here. They've been simply exceptional in front of their home fans this season and have so much attacking talent available that it would be a surprise if they didn't dominate the away side's defense in this one.
Fenerbahce will be without a number of key players due to injury and yellow card suspension here, which surely won't help them against the home side's attack.
I'd say an early couple of goals here for Benfica will open this game right up for the home side, and they'll ride that lead to victory. They'll add one more just before full time with Fenerbahce pushing for that game-winning goal and will send themselves through to the Europa League final in the process.
The final score won't reflect the game, but for Benfica, it won't matter at all.
Prediction: Benfica 3, Fenerbahce 0
All statistics courtesy of UEFA.com
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