A night under the Anfield lights awaits for Liverpool and Benfica, with the Reds only 90 minutes away from a place in the Champions League semi-final for the third time under Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool vs. Benfica
Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg | Anfield
Wednesday, April 13, 2022 | 8pm (BST)
The Reds put themselves in a strong position to progress thanks to a 3-1 win in the first leg but will know there can be no resting on their laurels with stakes as high as these.
After all, the Portuguese side will arrive at Anfield with nothing to lose.
Klopp’s side head into the European meeting off the back of a taxing 2-2 draw with Man City that keeps the title race very much alive as three competitions remain on the spin.
Here are 10 key things to know ahead of Wednesday’s match.
1. Benfica rest up
While Liverpool went strong against Man City, Benfica had the opportunity to ring the changes on Saturday with the trip to Anfield in mind.
Nelson Verissimo’s side welcomed Belenenses SAD and made six changes to the XI from Liverpool’s visit earlier in the week, with key players handed the chance to rest up.
Julian Weigl, Rafa Silva, Goncalo Ramos, Gilberto and Alex Grimaldo were all left out, while Jan Vertonghen was made to miss out due to suspension.
Although conceding first, Benfica struck three times before the hour mark thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick and safely saw out the game for a 3-1 win, with Adel Taarabt, Everton and Nunez also having their minutes managed.
2. How could they line up?
With no suspensions picked up from the first leg, despite seven players being on the edge, the Reds can expect a full-strength Benfica, on their sixth Anfield visit in club history.
And it could very well be a similar XI that greeted Liverpool in Portugal on Merseyside, but Rafa Silva is to take no part “due to a minor physical discomfort.”
As abovementioned, the rest and ability to manage the squad’s minutes will see Benfica arrive with fresh legs, which cannot be said for the spine of Liverpool’s side.
Possible Benfica XI: Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Vertonghen, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Goncalves, Weigl, Taarabt, Everton; Ramos, Nunez
3. A fully fit Reds squad?
Klopp acknowledged the Reds’ weekend fixture was a battle of two heavyweights and it will have taken something out of the side, but no new injuries, thankfully, emerged from the clash.
Takumi Minamino, Harvey Elliott, Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the ones left out on Sunday at the expense of a fit and firing squad but an extended bench could herald a return.
The manager hinted at changes as there is a “need to have a look at who is fresh enough for this game,” and there could be up to six.
4. Klopp’s possible XI
One can expect changes for this one after a fierce battle at the Etihad, with fresh legs on hand across each department.
Ibrahima Konate looks the obvious choice to come in for Joel Matip while Naby Keita could again feature against the Portuguese side alongside Curtis Jones.
While Thiago is one of the first names on the team sheet, he has started the last three and could instead be turned to as an option off the bench, much like Jordan Henderson.
Up front, there is certainly an argument for Mohamed Salah to be handed a breather with Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino then making up the forward line.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Jones; Mane, Diaz, Firmino
5. An eye elsewhere
The winner of this tie will meet Villarreal, with the Spanish side springing a surprise in both the first and second leg to overcome Bayern Munich by 2-1 on aggregate.
The two played on Tuesday evening and Liverpool now knows what is to await in the semi-finals before kickoff, but they must first complete the job.
The Reds last played Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals in 2016 and emerged as victors after a narrow defeat away from home in the first leg.
6. ‘We want to win everything’
Alisson has been a rock for Liverpool again this season and while he’s not been needed in a goalscoring capacity, at least not yet, he’s eager to do anything to life more trophies:
“We have the target of achieving in all the finals, playing as many games as possible for us in the season.
“So we want to win everything. We are ready for that.
“Of course, it’s not easy. Of course, we sometimes feel tired. But you need to put in your mind that you have energy enough to deal with every challenge.”
7. Did you know?
We’re all for good omens at this stage of the season.
And we wouldn’t mind this one playing out again as the last two times Liverpool and Benfica have met in the quarter-finals of the European Cup, the Reds have gone on to lift the trophy.
That was back in 1978 and 1984, and now Klopp’s side have put themselves in a great position to make it three from three.
8. ‘It’s Anfield’
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp warned Benfica of what awaits them at Anfield as he spoke of what he expects as they look to overturn the Reds’ 3-1 lead:
“I don’t know [what they will do], but I know what I would do: I would go for it, full throttle.
“Put us under pressure, try to score early. If not, score a bit later and that what we expect.
“Bad news for Benfica, it’s Anfield. They not only play against us but the whole crowd. It’s cool but we hope we can use that.
“We want to be the one team that nobody wants to play against, hopefully, we can be that tomorrow night.”
9. A first for the ref
The referee for the occasion is Serdar Gözübüyük, from the Netherlands.
He has never overseen Liverpool or Benfica before in European competition, and in his three Champions League matches this season, he has issued 13 yellow cards and one red.
It makes for an average of at least four yellow cards per game and he’s not too shy on the whistle as he averages over 22 fouls per game.
10. The rights are with BT Sport
Liverpool’s second leg meeting with Benfica is live on BT Sport 3 in the UK, with coverage starting at 7.15pm (BST) ahead of the 8pm kickoff.
But if you fancy more of a biased Liverpool opinion then This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog is the place for you, with Dan Clubbe to have you covered ahead of kickoff and throughout the match from 7.15pm!