SL Benfica vs Olympique Marseille: Preview and Prediction

Benfica will welcome Marseille to the Estadio da Luz in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.

Benfica and Marseille are poised for a showdown in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final clash, set to ignite the atmosphere at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on Thursday evening.

The stakes are high as both teams eye a coveted spot in the final four of the competition, with the second leg scheduled at Stade Velodrome next week. The victor will advance to face either Liverpool or Atalanta in the next round, adding to the anticipation of the encounter.

Benfica’s journey in Europe this season has been a mix of triumph and disappointment. While they fell short in the Champions League, their resilience secured them a spot in the Europa League. Notable victories over Toulouse and Rangers in the playoffs and Round of 16, respectively, highlight their determination to thrive on the continental stage.

Despite a recent setback in the Lisbon derby against Sporting CP, where they dropped crucial points in the Primeira Liga standings, Benfica remain formidable at home. With a strong record at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, they exude confidence as they prepare to defend their turf.

Marseille, on the other hand, have had a rollercoaster season. While they showcased their prowess in European competitions with victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Villarreal, their domestic form has been lacklustre. Struggling in Ligue 1 and enduring a managerial change mid-season, they find themselves under pressure to deliver in the Europa League.

Jean-Louis Gasset, the new helm at Marseille, face a daunting task to rejuvenate his side’s fortunes. Despite an initial burst of success, including five consecutive wins, Marseille’s recent form has been marred by a four-match losing streak, amplifying the urgency for a turnaround.

As the stage is set for a gripping encounter between Benfica and Marseille, both teams are poised to unleash their best in pursuit of European glory. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up for the game and their tactics.

Team News & Tactics

SL Benfica

Fredrik Aursnes will be sidelined for Benfica’s upcoming Liga Portugal fixture against Moreirense after receiving a red card in their clash against Sporting last weekend. However, with the imperative to keep him sharp, he is anticipated to feature in the game against Marseille.

Manager Roger Schmidt enjoys the luxury of a fully fit squad and is likely to opt for his trusted first-choice lineup. With the league title seemingly out of reach, Benfica’s focus is now squarely on their Europa League campaign.

In a 4-2-1-3 formation, Anatoliy Trubin is expected to guard the goal, shielded by Alexander Bah, Antonio Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, and the returning Aursnes in defence. The tactical versatility of this setup also allows for a seamless transition to a 4-2-3-1 if required.

Florentino Luís and Joao Neves will form the midfield duo, providing solidity and dynamism in the centre of the park. This setup will afford Rafa Silva the creative freedom to roam and orchestrate attacks from the no. 10 position.

Upfront, Arthur Cabral is set to spearhead the attack, supported by the pace and skill of Angel Di Maria and David Neres on the wings. With this lineup, Benfica will aim to assert their dominance and make a statement in their pursuit of European glory.

Probable Lineup (4-2-1-3): Trubin; Bah, A Silva, Otamendi, Aursnes; Neves, Luis; R Silva; Neres, Cabral, Di Maria

SL Benfica vs Olympique Marseille: Preview and Prediction.

Olympique Marseille

Unlike Benfica, Marseille have several injuries to contend with. Valentin Rongier, Pedro Ruiz, Michael Murillo, and Bilal Nadir are all unavailable, while Chancel Mbemba is touch and go to be able to feature on the night.

Marseille are enduring a poor run of form and progress in the Europa League represents their best shot at securing a spot in Europe for the 2024/25 campaign. However, the task is not easy with the likes of Benfica, Liverpool/Atalanta and maybe even Bayer Leverkusen waiting.

There is no time to dawdle on what could have been, and Jean-Louis Gasset will go in with his trusted 4-3-3 system. Pau Lopez should start in goal behind the back four of Chancel Mbemba, Samuel Gigot, Leonardo Balerdi, and Quentin Merlin.

Geoffrey Kondogbia, Jordan Veretout, and Amine Harit will form the midfield two, while veteran striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should lead the frontline, with Faris Moumbagna and Iliman Ndiaye alongside him. The trio could also restructure to a dual 10 setup with a lone striker if needed.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lopez; Mbemba, Gigot, Balerdi, Merlin; Kondogbia, Veretout, Harit; Ndiaye, Moumbagna, Aubameyang

SL Benfica vs Olympique Marseille: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • Benfica have eliminated Marseille from Europe both times they faced off against each other in the past.
  • Marseille have won just once in nine visits to Portugal in a major European competition.
  • Benfica are unbeaten at home in their last 28 UEFA Europa League games.
  • Benfica have failed to score just once in their last 28 Europa League home games.
  • Marseille have won away in the first leg of a European knockout tie just once in the last 14 attempts.
  • Only Liverpool have outscored Marseille in this season’s Europa League.

Player to Watch

Angel Di Maria

Embed from Getty Images

The Argentine World Cup winner is not getting any younger. But his intelligence and understanding of the game make him an invaluable member of the Benfica roster. Di Maria has three goals and two assists in four games in the competition this season.

His ability to link up well with the attackers while also opening up space for the ball to be played into adds a fresh dimension to the Benfica frontline. As long as Di Maria is shackled, Marseille have a shot at leaving Portugal with something to show for their efforts.


Benfica 2-1 Olympique Marseille

Benfica have a solid record at home in the Europa League and given Marseille’s injury problems, go into the game as solid favourites. A quick start will be the key and Roger Schmidt will be keen to avoid any surprises like against Rangers. The Hard Tackle predicts a close game with Benfica coming out on top.

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