Barcelona will be out for revenge when it hosts Portuguese team Benfica for a crucial Champions League clash at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
SL Benfica vs FC Barcelona
Tuesday, November 23, 2021 – 03:00 PM EST at Camp Nou
It finished 3-0 to Benfica when these teams met in Lisbon on September 29. Uruguayan forward Darwin Núñez banged in a brace and Rafa Silva was also on target in an emphatic win for Jorge Jesus’ team.
It was one of many dreadful results for Barcelona this season, and the board finally fired manager Ronald Koeman at the end of October. Club legend Xavi has been parachuted in to turn things around following a successful managerial stint in Qatar, but he has a big job on his hands.
Barcelona Endures an Inconsistent Start to the Season
Barca is languishing in mid-table in La Liga after losing star forwards Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann in the summer. It is in a financial crisis, so it cannot afford to replace them properly.
However, Barcelona still stands a good chance of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League, which would boost its coffers somewhat. It sits second in Group E, six points behind leader Bayern Munich, but two points ahead of Benfica and five points clear of Dynamo Kyiv.
It began the campaign by losing 3-0 to Bayern and 3-0 to Benfica, but it bounced back with a 1-0 home win against Dynamo Kyiv, and it then beat Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 in Ukraine.
Benfica is in Last-Chance Saloon
Benfica could only draw 0-0 with Dynamo Kyiv in its opener, before beating Barcelona 3-0 at the end of September. Since then, it has suffered two heavy defeats to the mighty Bayern Munich, which has left its chances of qualifying for the next stage of the tournament in serious jeopardy.
It will be desperate to reignite its push for a place in the Round of 16 at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Jesus named a strong starting 11 for Benfica’s Taça de Portugal clash with Pacos Ferreira on Friday, which it won 4-1.
The players should be well-rested for Tuesday’s game, whereas Barcelona had to play local rival Espanyol on Saturday night.
Defeat on Tuesday would make it mathematically impossible for Benfica to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition. It will therefore be desperate to avoid defeat, as it could go on and beat Dynamo Kyiv in its final game, while Barca is likely to lose to Bayern.
A couple of defenders are injured for Benfica, including Joao Mario and Lucas Verissimo, but its star players are all fit and ready for the trip to Catalonia.
Ansu Fati is out injured for Barcelona, which is a blow, as he has been a real livewire since returning to the team. Sergio Agüero is unavailable, while Martin Braithwaite and Sergiño Dest are also doubtful.
Most sportsbooks make Benfica the +450 underdog for this game. That seems a little incongruous when you consider that it won 3-0 when these teams met less than two months ago.
Of course, it is now on the road, and Barcelona could be galvanized by the return of Xavi. Yet the same problems for Baca still exist – its forwards lack the quality of Messi and Griezmann, its defense is a mess, and it is overly reliant on aging stars.
Benfica +1 Asian handicap at -115 with DraftKings Sportsbook looks tempting. If Barcelona wins this game, it is unlikely to be by a large margin. Benfica has quality attackers, and it should be very competitive on Tuesday.
Both teams to score at -150 also looks great. Barcelona is unlikely to draw another blank against a Benfica side that conceded nine goals in two games against Bayern, but Benfica also has the quality to exploit Barca’s defensive frailties.
Soccer Pick: Benfica +1 Asian Handicap (-115) at DraftKings
Soccer Pick: Both Teams to Score (-150) at DraftKings