Benfica will know their best chance of progressing is to keep a clean sheet.
An Arturo Vidal goal in the second minute settled the first leg in Bayern’s favour and without even an away goal Benfica are up against it here. The Portuguese leaders are in great form though having won 20 of their last 22 matches and they’ve won three of four home matches in Europe this season.
None of those wins were against a team of Bayern’s calibre however, and they lost to Atletico in their only home game against a team we ranked in the top 10 in Europe. More positively, they did beat both Juventus and PSG here in 2013/14 and Bayern’s away record is not as impressive as might be expected. The Bavarians have lost half their last eight European away matches, including a 3-1 defeat against Porto in their last trip to Portugal.
There have been 30 past Champions League knockout ties where the home side in the second leg was trying to overturn a 1-0 loss from the first leg and those teams have a decent W14-D6-L10 record with 12 going through. 18 of the matches had fewer than three goals and with the home side needing to score three times if they concede it is crucial that they protect their clean sheet.
Bayern’s general performances have been slightly lacklustre of late as since the start of March they’ve scored only once or failed to score in four of their six Bundesliga matches while they needed a very late comeback and extra-time to get past Juventus in the Champions League before again scoring just once in the first leg with Benfica. Arjen Robben’s continuing absence is not helping matters but the team news for Benfica is arguably more significant. Jonas – who has 30 Primeira goals this season at a rate of one every 80 minutes – is suspended while key playmaker Nicolas Gaitan limped off at the weekend and is currently a doubt.
That certainly improves Bayern’s odds significantly and since 2011/12 they’ve lost only one of nine UCL trips to teams we had ranked 11-20 (W5-D3-L1). Five of those nine matches had fewer than three goals and they’ve generally been excellent defensively under Pep Guardiola. Since the start of October Bayern have kept nine clean sheets in their 17 away games with nine of the matches having fewer than three goals while three of their five Bundesliga trips to top-four finishers last season or teams currently in those spots this term have actually finished goalless.
With Benfica having to maintain a clean sheet to have a realistic chance of going through and Bayern lacking fluency in attack we could be in for a tight game and Under 2.5 Goals looks the way to approach things.
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