Expect goals in crucial contest at Dortmund
Champions League round of 16 second leg
BT Sport 3, 7.45pm Wednesday
Thirteen times Benfica have taken a 1-0 cushion into the second leg of a European tie and 12 times they have progressed to the next stage – yet bookmakers don’t fancy their chances this time.
Dortmund are 4-11 to beat the Portuguese side at Signal-Iduna Park and, despite losing the first leg in Lisbon to Kostas Mitroglou’s effort, they are odds-on to reach the quarter-finals.
The first price looks plenty short enough given Benfica’s resilience, injuries in the Dortmund camp and their inconsistency this season, and the 8-11 that the Bundesliga side qualify is hardly any more tantalising.
After all, Dortmund dominated the first game, boasting 65 percent possession and more than three times as many efforts on goal, yet still managed to come away with a defeat. And Benfica, going great guns at the top of the Primeira Liga, in which they’ve won their last five, will be confident they can repeat their heroics of last month when keeper Ederson had one of those nights to remember.
At this very stage of last season’s competition Benfica beat Zenit 1-0 in the first leg before winning 2-1 in St Petersburg three weeks later. That set up a tie against Bayern which mighty Munich edged 3-2 on aggregate.
The second legs of both those ties last year produced goals at both ends and that certainly looks a sensible punt for this fixture at odds of 19-20.
Benfica average more than two goals per game in Portugal and haven’t been involved in a 0-0 draw since December 2015. It’s an outcome they’d love tonight but it looks unlikely.
Mitroglou has bagged nine in his last seven leading the Benfica line.
Dortmund, for whom top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a penalty in the first match, topped Group F with an astonishing 21 goals, the most by any team in the group phase. They go into this tie having whacked six past Leverkusen on Saturday and have scored 12 goals in three game since the loss at Benfica.
For all their faults – and an injury to Marco Reus weakens them further – Thomas Tuchel’s men are full of goals and take chances. And tonight they need to take those chances having been so wasteful in the first encounter. That, inevitably, brings Benfica into the game on the counter. It’s just one of those ties that smacks of a few goals.
Dortmund on a big European night can be an intimidating venue and Benfica have a woeful record in Germany where they have lost 14 (and won just two) of 22 trips.
And if Aubameyang, who had a night to forget in the first leg, has adjusted his radar correctly, Dortmund could storm to victory.
But Rui Vitoria’s men do score goals away from home – they’ve failed to score on only one road trip in all competitions since April’s 1-0 loss at Bayern.
Both teams to score
2pts 19-20 Betway
Marco Reus (thigh) has joined Mario Gotze, Sven Bender and Sebastian Rode on the treatment table.
Midfielder Felipe Augusto has travelled despite nursing an ankle injury. Ljubomir Fejsa is out.
Benfica have only failed to score in one of their last 17 Champions League ties