Next Up: Benfica to provide tough test for Liverpool

Benfica LiverpoolLiverpool travel to Portugal to face table-topping Benfica in the first leg of the Europa League quarter finals.

Benfica represent one of Europe’s best attacking teams, with some stalwart names performing at their best again – recognisably so in Javier Saviola and Pablo Aimar.

Aimar, you will remember, as the prodigious talent whom flourished under Rafa Benitez’s reign at Valancia and was long linked with a move to Anfield to follow his former boss. He joined the Libson outfit for £6m in 2008 and is enjoying success playing in his attacking midfield role behind Saviola and another hot talent in Óscar Cardozo.

Brazilian centre back Luisão gives Benfica a sold defence and former Real Madrid player Javi Garcia holds the midfield. This is a side who sit comfortably sit points clear at the top of the Portuguese Liga Sagres, with a huge goal difference of 49, having conceded just 12 goals in the league and an unbeaten home record.

The last time a team from Merseyside went to the Estádio da Luz they came home having suffered their heaviest defeat in Europe – Everton on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering. Saviola and Cardoza bagging a brace each that night to dump the Toffees out of Europe.

Liverpool go into the game on the back of a comfortable attacking performance of their own, having seen off Sunderland 3-0 on Sunday.

Rafa Benitez though will be without Maxi Rodriguez, who is cup-tied, meaning Lucas Leiva is likely to come back in alongside Javier Mascherano, with Steven Gerrard supporting Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt moving back to the right side.

Kick off is 8.05pm, live on five (UK).