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SL Benfica vs Olympique de Marseille preview, team news, tickets & prediction

Two-time European Cup winners, Benfica, take on Olympique Marseille in the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League quarter-final

Here is a preview.

Benfica are set for an exciting matchup when they face Olympique Marseille in the first leg of their Last Eight encounter.

The last meeting between both clubs took place in the 2010 Europa League Round of 16 which ended 2-1 in favor of the Portuguese side following a draw in the first leg. Marseille will be hoping to get their revenge some 14 years later as they look to end an eventful season on a high.

The Portuguese champions are still in search of a European title to add to the back-to-back Champions League triumphs from 1962 and they got to this stage after beating Toulouse and Rangers in the knockout stage.

Benfica endured a disastrous Champions League campaign that led to their demotion to the second-tier competition after finishing behind Real Sociedad and Inter Milan in Group D.

Hence, Roger Schmidt has endured heavy criticism for their erratic performers on the continent and a spot in the semi-final would change that narrative.

Benfica’s domestic campaign began with a last-gasp 3-2 defeat against Boavista which came by two late goals. Although they won all of the next four league matches, the Portuguese champions also lost their first four UCL games against RB Salzburg, Inter Milan, and Real Sociedad.

Results in the league were good but the Eagles were on the brink of an embarrassing exit from Europe until a 3-0 lead in the home leg against Inter. The Italians staged a sensational second-half comeback but Benfica held on for a 3-3 draw that kept them in with a chance to play in the Europa League.

Indeed, they beat Salzburg 3-1 on Matchday 6 to finish above the Austrians and progress into the playoff round of the second-tier competition. Angel Di Maria’s last-gasp winner decided the first leg of their tie against Toulouse and it proved the decisive strike in the tie as the return leg ended goalless.

A devastating 5-0 loss to Porto was the worst preparation for their Last 16 fixture against Rangers but they secured a 2-2 draw at home and then knocked out the Scottish side through Rafa Silva’s second-half goal.

Benfica are a single point behind league leaders Sporting Lisbon who have a game in hand and they will fancy their chances of beating Marseille to enter the UEL semi-final.

It is crucial that they cut out the lapses that have so far undermined their fortunes in continental competitions.

Their French opponents have had a topsy-turvy campaign that began in the Champions League playoffs before they ended up in the Europa League group stage. Les Minots finished runners-up to Brighton in Group B as they advanced to the knockout playoffs against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Marcelino started the season as Marseille manager after replacing Igor Tudor, but the Spaniard lasted only 81 days in charge following an unconvincing start to the season which saw them amass nine points from their first five league games.

A 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain proved the final straw as Gennaro Gattuso was appointed to ignite their hopes for the campaign. L’OM lost the Italian’s debut match 3-2 to Monaco but they won two and drew two of the next six games in Ligue 1.

Marseille also produced three wins, a draw, and a defeat in the rest of the Europa League campaign, but failed to win any of the next seven league matches. Following a 1-0 defeat to Brest, Gattuso was sacked after five months in charge to be replaced by Jean-Louis Gasset.

The former Ivory Coast manager inspired an immediate impact on the team as they delivered a second-leg win against Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout playoffs. Results got even better with a five-game winning run as the team improved their goalscoring threat.

Although they lost the return leg of the Europa League Round of 16 against Villarreal, OM had secured a 4-0 victory in the first leg but they lost their first league game under Gasset during a 2-0 loss at Rennes.

They must show the battling spirit and attacking verve that has characterized their recent performances because Benfica have not been at their best in Europe this season. This is a brilliant opportunity for Marseille to end their campaign with some pride and they will be confident of reaching the final four.

Match tickets

The first leg of this UEFA Europa League Quarter-final takes place on Thursday, 11 April 2024 with kick-off scheduled for 8 PM UK time. Match tickets are sold on both clubs’ websites with allocation guaranteed for season ticket holders and registered members.

Estadio da Luz should have a bubbling atmosphere as around 64,000 people are expected to fill the seats of a sold-out arena. Getting match tickets should hence be very difficult because fans of both clubs are desperate to witness this occasion.

However, we urge supporters still looking for Benfica vs Marseille tickets to cop theirs via a ticket resale site.

Team news

Juan Bernat and Alexander Bah are the only injury doubts for the hosts and they have a chance to be available.

Marseille has Nadir Bilal, Samuel Gigot, Valentin Rongier, and Amir Murillo out injured while the trio of Pape Gueye, Jean Onana, and Ulisses Garcia are not eligible to feature in this competition.

Line-ups

Roger Schmidt must find a balance with his strongest side as they aim to defy their odds of winning the Europa League. They must depend on the experience of the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Angel Di Maria to see them through.

Benfica: Trubin; Aursnes, Silva, Otamendi, Bah; Luis, Neves; Di María, Silva, Neres; Cabral

Marseille’s new-found attacking verve is a headache for their opponents and Gasset will be hoping his side finds the goals to outshoot their opponents.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now the Europa League’s record goalscorer and his quality has so far been a catalyst to the team’s run to the quarter-final.

Olympique Marseille: López; Clauss, Mbemba, Balerdi, Merlin; Kondogbia, Veretout, Harit; Sarr, Ndiaye, Aubameyang

Prediction

This tie is hard to call given the depth of talent involved in both teams, hence it is up to one of them to grab the semi-final spot. Benfica must capitalize on their home advantage in the first leg to hopefully give them a result to take to the decisive match.

Marseille will surely be finding the net, and Benfica are tasked with outsmarting their visitors.

Benfica 2-2 Marseille

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