Barcelona will be hosting Portuguese club Benfica at the Camp Nou in Spain on Wednesday Dec. 5 in an important Group G Champions League game. Barcelona is sitting on top of the group with 12 points from four wins and a loss. They have a five-point lead over both Benfica and Celtic of Scotland and can’t be caught regardless of the outcome of this match. Since they’re assured of winning the group we could see some of their start players rested.
Since Benfica is tied with Celtic for second place with seven points they need to at least equal Celtic’s result against Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park. They’re both level on goal difference as well, but Celtic has scored and allowed seven goals while Benfica has scored and allowed just five. It’s going to be a big task though considering Benfica hasn’t beaten a Spanish since way back in 1982. Celtic is in the driver’s seat at the moment, but if they lose to Spartak, Benfica will advance with a draw.
Barcelona will be without Dani Alves as he’s out with an injury and Martin Montoya could take his place. Xavi may be rested which means Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas may start in the midfield. Pedro and David Villa could lineup in the attack. Benfica has to start their strongest players and forward Oscar Cardozo will spearhead the attack with Nicolas Gaitan and Lima. Luisao is back from his lengthy suspension and is able to return to the squad.
Strangely, whenever these clubs have met in the European Cup, the winner has gone on to win the championship. As mentioned, Benfica has gone 30 years without a win against a Spanish club. This is a streak of 13 matches as their last victory was over Real Betis during the 1982 Uefa Cup. Meanwhile, Barcelona has won 10 straight matches at home against Portuguese clubs.
Both of these football teams are red hot at the moment as they’ve each won their last five contests in all competitions. When they met earlier in the Champions League season Barcelona waltzed into Lisbon and came away with a 2-0 away win. The man to watch as always with Barcelona is Lionel Messi, who has five goals in the competition already. He’ll likely play in this game because he’s trying to break the record for goals in a calendar year, which was set at 85 by German star Gerd Muller. Messi also has 56 total goals in the European Cup, good for second place in history.
Predictions for Barcelona v Benfica
Even though Benfica certainly can’t afford to lose this game, it’s still hard to see them winning it. They’re going to have to throw everything they have at Barcelona, but also be aware defensively. It looks like they best they may do here is earn a draw and cross their fingers that Celtic loses to Spartak Moscow.
We’ll go for a bet on over 2.5 goals over at William Hill. They have the latest odds on the match at 8/5 for a Barcelona win and 9/3 for a Benfica victory with a draw at 10/3.