Benfica-FC Barcelona: A European classic

Messi in the match against Spartak Moscow. PHOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB.
20.45, TV3 and La1: Two historic European football teams, Benfica and Barça, will face off this evening at the Da Luz Stadium for the second match of the Champions League group stage

The next stop in Barça’s whirlwind schedule is the famous Da Luz Stadium in Lisbon. After the agonising and epic victory over Sevilla, Barça visit Benfica for the second game of the Champions League group stage. The two historic European teams, who faced off against each other half a century ago in the European Cup final, will clash this evening for the top spot of Group H.

It looks like we’re in for a great game in Portugal, the two teams sit atop of the table in their respective leagues and they’re both favoured to make it through to the next round of the competition. A good result in Lisbon would leave things all squared away for the Azulgrana ahead of their all-important La Liga Clásico this Sunday against Real Madrid.

Three new faces

Barça’s squad has been significantly reinforced for this evening’s match. Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta and Adriano Correia were declared fit to play by the Club’s Medical Services on Sunday and all three were named to the team for this evening’s Champions League game. Thiago, on the other hand, picked up a serious injury in the game against Sevilla and will be out of action for eight weeks. In addition, Piqué, Abidal, Cuenca and Muniesa will also miss the match due to injury.

Tito Vilanova and his men face a tough challenge if they want to maintain their perfect record in the Liga (6) and the Champions League (1). The Azulgrana were held to two goalless draws (1991/92 and 2005/06) in the team’s last two visits to Da Luz Stadium. With that said, Barça went on to win the European Cup title on both occasions.

Benfica, on form

Despite losing a couple of important players this summer, Benfica have also started their 2012/13 season off with a bang. The Portuguese side have yet to lose a match in the league and they earned a valuable point in Celtic Park two weeks ago in the Champions League. Cardozo, who is injured, and Luisão, suspended, will be the most notable absences in Jorge Jesús’ team. The ex-Azulgrana Nolito and other well-known players to La Liga like Aimar, Garay and Slavia will be on hand to threaten Barça’s perfect start.