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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Lisbon giants can show their class against minnows

Benfica's Lisandro Lopez tackles Dries Mertens
1 of 1

Portuguese League Cup
9.15pm Thursday

Benfica have won the Portuguese league cup for the last three seasons and are 1-4 to start their defence of the trophy with a victory at home to Pacos Ferreira in the first of three group-stage fixtures.

The Lisbon giants had a poor start to December – losing 2-1 away to Maritimo in the league and 2-1 at home to Napoli on Champions League matchday six.

But they have responded with four successive victories and head towards the end of the year engaged in four competitions – the Portuguese title race, the Champions League, the Portuguese Cup and the Portuguese league cup.

Winning the league cup is fourth on their list of priorities and manager Rui Vitoria can be expected to use the depth of his squad but Benfica have chalked up 11 consecutive victories in this competition and that record is tough to ignore.

Only the four group winners will progress to the semi-finals, so there is very little room for error.

But Benfica’s only serious challenge is likely to come from Vitoria Guimaraes – currently fifth in the Portuguese top flight – who they play away from home in the third match.

Pacos Ferreira have never won a major cup competition in their history and are 13th in the league – 22 points behind leaders Benfica.

They have lost their last five away games, which started off with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of champions Benfica at the Stadium of Light.

Pacos Ferreira’s most recent win over the hosts was a 1-0 triumph at the Estadio da Mata Real in January 2015 but they have lost on their last 16 visits to the Lisbon – conceding 53 goals in the process.

Three of their last five trips to Benfica have ended in 3-0 defeats and the 3-0 correct score looks worthy of support at 15-2.

Recommendation
Benfica to win 3-0
1pt 15-2 Paddy Power

Bet on football at soccerbase.com

Pacos Ferreira have never won a major cup competition in their history and are 13th in the league – 22 points behind leaders Benfica
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