By 90Min
September 18, 2018

Facing Benfica in the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday, Bayern Munich kick off their Group E campaign looking for a first Champions League triumph since 2013.

The five-time European champions have been in good form domestically, and are the only team to take a maximum nine points from nine possible in this season's Bundesliga

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Die Roten's opponents also are atop of their division, with Benfica collecting three wins from four games. The only points dropped so far were in the Derby de Lisboa, with Joao Felix's late equaliser cancelling out Nani's earlier penalty. 

Encarnados last lifted club football's greatest honour way back in 1962, doubling down on the success only a year prior. Since then, Benfica had a horror show in finals, losing eight in a row. 


Classic Encounter


Benfica 2-2 Bayern Munich (Champions League Quarter-Final 2015/16) 


After a narrow 1-0 win in Germany, Bayern Munich travelled to Portugal with work still to do if they were to guarantee a spot in the final four. 

Managed by Pep Guardiola, it's possible that Die Roten walked in to Lisbon thinking their talent alone would make for an easy day at the office. However, Benfica were in no mood to go down without a fight. 

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An early goal from Raul Jimenez had the aggregate score tied up, before Arturo Vidal's leveller meant that Benfica now needed to win by two due to the away goals rule.  

Unfortunately for Benfica, Thomas Muller gave Bayern the lead seven minutes into the second period, and even though Anderson Talisca gave them hope, there was just too much left to do.


Munich would go on to get knocked out in the next stage by Atletico Madrid, ending their hopes of winning a second title in three years. 


Key Battle


Ljubomir Fejsa vs Thomas Muller


Patrolling the midfield half space in front of his back line will be Serbian battler Ljubomir Fejsa. With Benfica since 2013, the ball winner has played in many a Champions League game.

Up against enigmatic Raumdeuter Muller, a man who describes himself as 'a translator of space', Fejsa may find the German's game hard to monitor. Neither blessed with speed or physicality, the goal scoring record of Bayern's number 25 is highly perplexing. 

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Of all the cliches to describe his play, the one that best defines his style on the pitch has to be that you watch the game and you don't see Muller, but watch Muller and you see the game. 

Operating off his forward Robert Lewandowski, the former World Cup winner won't just play in the hole. Drifting into the areas his other teammates either leave or create, it is to be one incredible test of character for Fejsa.


Team News


Benfica's coach Rui Vitoria has problems to deal with, as a few of his key men are unable to take the field for this one. Jonas' back injury has had him sidelined all season, while Sebastien Corchia's knee problem has resulted in a month out. Croat Filip Krovinovic suffered a terrible cruciate ligament rupture in January, and still has a long way to go before he's 100%. 

Bayern and Niko Kovac are facing somewhat of an injury crisis at the moment as well, as five players are likely to miss the starting eleven for their match against Benfica. Definitely out are Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha, who both picked up serious ligament damage this weekend.

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Franck Ribery and Leon Goretzka have travelled with the squad but are likely to be game time decisions, with the prior suffering from a stomach bug and the latter picking up a knock in training.


Kingsley Coman is still on the sidelines after suffering an ankle problem in their Bundesliga opener. This leaves opportunities in midfield, with the likes of Renato Sanches, Thiago Alcantara, Serge Gnabry and James Rodriguez all pushing for a starting role. 


Potential Benfica Lineup (4-1-4-1): Vlachodimos; Almeida, Jardel, Dias, Grimaldo; Fejsa; Salvio, Fernandes, Pizzi, Cervi; Seferovic.


Potential Bayern Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Sanches; Robben, Muller, James; Lewandowski.


Prediction


Home advantage could play a part in this match, however it's likely that the powerhouse of Bayern Munich find a way to take home all three points.

Battling with Ajax for second position, Benfica will look to a double header against the Dutchmen as their real test. If they can snatch anything from the probable group winners, then that can only be seen as an unexpected bonus.

Benfica 1-3 Bayern Munich

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