I have just received some team news ahead of this finely balanced tie. You may have read elsewhere that Miccoli and Petit were major doubts for the hosts, my information is that both are fit and likely to start. Which is a major boost for the Portugese giants from Lisbon.
They looked down and out of this quarter final, when 3-0 down in the first leg, but two goals in 3 second half minutes, swung the tie back in their favour and they could even have snatched an equaliser, having very much the best of the last 30 minutes.
Benfica started that match with Rui Costa and Miccoli on the bench, the about turn coming when they were introduced into the action, I am certain that both will be on the pitch at kick off tonight.
The hosts are very strong at the Estadio da Luz, where, in the league, they have only lost 12 times in 8 seasons. In Europe, only Manchester United have beaten them at home and Benfica enjoyed 57% possession and had chances to win, they prevailed in the other five, scoring 3 goals in 4 of them.
That loss to United was their only defeat in 23 home fixtures and they are Portugal's most inform side, on a long unbeaten run.
Espanol must feel they let a golden opportunity slip in the first leg and will be without their captain and key striker Raul Tamudo this evening.
My opinion is that Benfica are the stronger team, with the far greater European experience, they were a little unlucky not to progress further in the Champions League and are motivated to go as far as possible in this competition.
5 points Benfica -1/2 ball 1.78 asian line. result 0-0 -5 points