Luis Diaz can extend impressive Benfica run as Virgil van Dijk hits milestone

Luis Diaz is very familiar with tonight’s opponents, and in seven meetings with Benfica prior to his January switch to Liverpool, the Colombian went unbeaten.

Diaz has not lost in his career against Benfica, winning five and drawing two of seven games with Porto.

He scored once (in December 2020) and has also been red-carded, in the first half of the Portuguese Cup final in August 2020.

Meanwhile, Diogo Jota has scored twice in four career appearances against this evening’s opponents.

Both goals – one for Pacos de Ferreira and one for Porto – came when he was just 19.

Jota has scored the opening goal in each of the Reds’ last three games.


Jota’s suspension risk

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 3, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) is shown a yellow card by referee Danny Makkelie during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 4 game between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jota and Sadio Mane are both one yellow card away from missing the second leg.

Liverpool had a player red-carded on their last visit to Estadio da Luz, that being Ryan Babel in a 2-1 Europa League defeat in 2010.

Babel was the second Reds player to be sent off against Benfica, with Kenny Dalglish also dismissed in Lisbon in 1984.

Benfica have seven players who are one yellow card away from missing the second leg: Rafa Silva, Roman Yaremchuk, Julian Weigl, Nicolas Otamendi, Alejandro Grimaldo, Joao Mario and Goncalo Ramos.


Van Dijk milestone and more

Matchday, Anfield, Van Dijk, flag, Liverpool (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk’s next appearance will be his 250th for an English club.

Liverpool’s next goal will be their 50th in Europe against teams from Portugal, while they are one goal short of recording their 350th as the away team under Jurgen Klopp.


Salah to score?

MILAN, ITALY - Tuesday, February 15, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between FC Internazionale Milano and Liverpool FC at the Stadio San Siro. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mo Salah has scored 12 goals in his last 13 Champions League appearances.

He has 34 European goals in total for the club (all in this competition) and has Steven Gerrard’s club record of 41 in all European competitions firmly in his sights.

Salah’s best tally in a Champions League campaign is the 11 he scored in 15 appearances in 2017/18. He has eight goals during this campaign.

The only players to score more than eight goals in a single European campaign for the club are Roberto Firmino (11), Mane (10) and Dean Saunders (nine).


Rock solid

In their last 13 games in all competitions, Liverpool have conceded only three goals and not conceded more than once in any match since January 2 (the 2-2 draw at Chelsea).


Familiar faces

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Wednesday, September 29, 2021: Benfica's Nicola?s Otamendi celebrates after the UEFA Champions League Group E Matchday 2 game between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at the Estádio da Luz. Benfica won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joao Mario had a loan spell with West Ham from Inter Milan in 2018. He scored twice in 14 appearances and faced Liverpool at Anfield in a 4-1 defeat.

Valentino Lazaro played with Newcastle in 2020 and started in their 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool in the final game of the season.

Adel Taarabt has faced Liverpool twice (both with QPR) and was on the winning side in 2012 as his team came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Jan Vertonghen played the whole of 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool – one of 12 times he has played against the Reds, winning twice.

Vertonghen scored twice in one game in a 3-2 defeat at Anfield in March 2013.

Otamendi played in both legs of Man City’s Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool in 2018.


Tonight’s referee

Jesus Gil Manzano takes charge of Liverpool for the first time. Has reffed four Benfica games (won one, drawn two, lost one).


This season’s scorers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, March 4, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Benfica: Nunez 27, Rafa 12, Yaremchuk 8, Everton 7, Ramos 7, Grimaldo 6, Seferovic 5, Gilberto 4, Mario 4, own goals 4, Verissimo 3, Weigl 3, Pizzi 2, Waldschmidt 2, Almeida 1, Araujo 1, Morato 1, Radonjic 1, Pinho 1, Taarabt 1

Liverpool: Salah 28, Jota 20, Mane 14, Firmino 9, Minamino 9, Fabinho 7, Origi 5, Henderson 3, Keita 3, Oxlade-Chamberlain 3, Van Dijk 3, Alexander-Arnold 2, Diaz 2, Thiago 2, Elliott 1, Gordon 1, Jones 1, Matip 1, Robertson 1, own goals 1

* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea (@ged0407).