What result do Benfica need against Liverpool to qualify and what happens in the tie ends level?
Two-time winners Benfica are guests of Liverpool in tonight’s Champions League quarter final and will be hoping luck goes their way at Anfield.
Benfica have it all to do if they are to make it past Liverpool and into the 2021/22 Champions League semi-finals. Nélson Veríssimo’s lost last week’s first leg in Lisbon 1-3 and travel to Anfield still in with a chance of advancing, if only a slim one.
This is the 41st time that the Portuguese giants, winners of consecutive European crowns in 1961 and 1962, have taken part in the tournament - only Real Madrid have appeared more. They emerged from one of the toughest sections in the group stage, finishing behind Bayern Munich in a group which included Barcelona and Dynamo Kyiv. They beat Ajax, another of this competition’s legendary clubs, in the last round - drawing the first leg 2-2 at their ground then sealed the tie in Amsterdam with Darwin Nuñez nodding in the winner - his fifth altogether.
A 3-0 win over Barcelona was among the highlights of Benfica’s present European campaign but they have not fared particularly well on the road. They held Dynamo in Kyiv and Barça at Camp Nou during the group stage as well as beating Ajax - their only away win so far. There is a big difference between Benfica and Liverpool when it comes to scoring and that will be a major factor tonight considering that they need to score at least two goals at Anfield. In the seven games they have played so far, Benfica have scored a total of 11 goals, an average 1.23 goals per game. Liverpool meanwhile have scored double that figure - 22, which puts their average at almost 2.5 goals per game. Veríssimo’s side have also conceded almost twice as many goals as the Reds (14 goals against compared to eight for Liverpool).
What do Benfica need to do against Liverpool to make the semis?
To turn the tie around, Benfica will need to have luck on their side and play almost perfect game. Fortunately for them, the away goals rule no longer applies - in previous years, the three goals which Liverpool scored in Lisbon would have counted as double if the tie ended level on aggregate. Under the new regulations, to level the tie, the visitors must score two goals at Anfield and prevent Liverpool from scoring. To eliminate Liverpool, Benfica must win tonight’s game by three clear goals.
What happens if it ends level after 90 minutes?
A 0-2 result, or 1-3 in Benfica’s favour would take the game to extra-time. If no further goals are scored in two halves of 15 minutes, the tie will be decided from the penalty spot with five players from each side taking a spot-kick each - it will go to sudden death if the shootout ends level.
Both sets of fans will remember Benfica’s last visit to Anfield, at the Round of 16 stage in March 2006. Luisão had given them a one-goal cushion from the first leg and Simão and Fabrizio Miccoli sentenced the tie either side of half-time at Liverpool’s stadium to send the defending champions crashing out.