Liverpool vs Benfica preview and tips

Liverpool have it all to do in their second leg Europa clash with Benfica on Thursday evening, trailing as they do 2-1 on aggregate.

Steven Gerrard

Return to form needed

Tonight’s home side were leading 1-0 against Benfica at the Estadio da Luz before Ryan Babel took exception to a clumsy Luisao challenge on Fernando Torres and was sent off for his reaction.

The Pool must balance their need to score with the equally pressing need to not concede, while Benfica might be wise to suppress their natural attacking instincts to secure progression in the tournament.

The Portuguese giants last triumphed at Anfield in 2006, when they dumped Liverpool out of the Champions League the year after the Reds won the title. They will be hoping for a similarly dominant performance on Thursday.

Up front Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with, on paper at least, and crucially can call on the services of both Gerrard and Torres, while Kuyt and Benayoun will provide goal-scoring support. The attacking prowess of Glen Johnson will add to the Reds’ oomph.

In defence it’s different story with Emiliano Insua and Fabio Aurelio out with suspension and injury respectively. Babel, who regularly deputises as a goal threat for Torres is also out through suspension.

On the flip side, Liverpool will have to deal with flighty Argentine winger Angel Di Maria and first leg double goal scorer Oscar Cardozo. But despite their trickiness and obvious prowess in attack, the Portuguese side are an outside bet at 6.4 for the away win.

Best bet: both teams to score @1.81 on Betfair

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