Benfica will defend a 2-1 lead when they travel to Turin to take on Juventus on Thursday in the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals, in what could be the team's most important match of the 2013-14 campaign.
The visitors have already locked up the Portuguese title and will be playing Rio Ave in the domestic cup final later this month, and a good result at the Juventus Stadium could set the team up for a historic treble.
But Juventus are very close to the Serie A title themselves and would want nothing more than to qualify for the Europa League final, which will be played at their very own Juventus Stadium, setting the stage for an epic night of football on Thursday.
Date: Thursday, May 1
Time: 8.05 p.m. BST/3:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Juventus Stadium, Turin
Benfica showed the world last year's final berth in the competition was no fluke when they came out and dominated Juventus for the opening 20 minutes of last week's fixture, scoring a vital early goal and hardly allowing the visitors to establish any sort of rhythm.
Learning from Lyon's tactics in the quarter-final, the Portuguese champions jammed Andrea Pirlo early and forced the ball into the feet of Leonardo Bonucci, who buckled under the pressure and couldn't find any of the attacking targets with his long passing.
Fans were quick to point the finger at the Italian international as he was caught out of position for both goals, and Bonucci didn't shy away from taking responsibility for his sloppy play following the match on his Facebook page (via Football-Italia.net):
"Nothing is decided yet!! I am the first person to be angry with myself... We have to look forward with positivity."
Benfica deserve all the credit in the world for the way they handled Juventus in the opening stages of the first leg, but it was no coincidence the Bianconeri looked most vulnerable in the centre of the defence and in support of Pirlo, with Andrea Barzagli and Arturo Vidal not fit for the match.
As shared by Omid Zamani, SKY reported both were active for Juve's weekend fixture against Sassuolo:
SKY reporting that both Barzagli and Vidal will start the match against Sassuolo. pic.twitter.com/Ghjp1Q5VOC— Omid Zamani (@Juventus__fan) April 28, 2014
While Barzagli is an important feature in the back line, Vidal's inclusion could prove to be the difference in this tie.
His relentless approach toward the ball and constant movement make him the perfect guard dog for Pirlo, and his attacking contributions have been vital for the squad this year, as evidenced by his 18 total goals, per WhoScored.com.
As shared by Jan Hagen, Benfica fielded a number of second-string players against Porto during the weekend:
Not playing Benfica XI vs Porto tonight: Artur - Maxi, Garay, Luisão, Silvío - Fejsa, Enzo Pérez - Markovic, Gaitán, Salvio - Rodrigo— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) April 27, 2014
The visitors have some injury concerns coming into this match, but the list of injured players is relatively unchanged from last week, when the team seemed just fine. Andre Gomes picked up his third yellow card in Lisbon and will be the only notable omission from last week's group of players.
Which of these teams will qualify for the final?
Miralem Sulejmani and Lazar Markovic were able to inflict real damage on the Bianconeri back line with their excellent athleticism and the high line the team used for much of the first half. Coach Jorge Jesus should employ a similar tactic in this match.
Juventus were allowed too much time on the ball in the second half and took control of the match, with Carlos Tevez's equaliser more than deserved.
The late push by the hosts and the subsequent winner from Lima once again showed Juventus' weakness against pressing teams, and Benfica should take advantage from that weakness as they look to erase Tevez's away goal and silence a furious home crowd early.
A healthy Juventus squad won't make this an easy task, however, and the return of Vidal, Barzagli and Fernando Llorente could give the hosts just the boost they need on their way to the final.