Benfica enjoyed a 0-2 away win on Friday evening to remain joint-top of the Portuguese league with Porto. They will have enjoyed a day off while Celtic played on Saturday and will two days training before tomorrow’s game. By contrast, Celtic player will have rested yesterday and will get no more than a run out inside Estadio da Luz tonight. With games coming thick and fast at the moment, hopefully rest is the most important requirement for the players.
Benfica shredded Spartak for most of the second half in Moscow but contrived to miss what chances they created, allowing the Russians their only win of the group so far. The return game in Lisbon was a comfortable win for the home team.
Neil Lennon has some major tactical decisions to make. He will surely acknowledge the danger Benfica pose but has to find a way of scoring an away goal or two. Match day one between Celtic and Benfica brought a 0-0 draw, ostensibly a good result for the visitors, but the group has matured since then. Both teams played that game as though it was an away game; Benfica were happy to defend and Celtic, in their first Champions League game since 2008, were keen to feel their way back into the tournament.
This time Benfica will attack with speed and hope that Celtic open up a little more than they did against Barcelona. It’s important also to acknowledge that while Benfica are no Barcelona, they will also be less predictable than the Catalans, we will not have it all our own way in the air.
It’s going to be a game tiring 90 minutes where the use of fresh legs could be crucial but an early Celtic goal would allow Neil Lennon to set his stall out clearly.
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