UEFA Europa League: Benfica vs Dinamo Zagreb preview

Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb are looking to produce one of the biggest upsets of the round in the UEFA Europa League when they visit Portuguese outfit Benfica at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Thursday in the second leg of their last-sixteen tie. Dinamo pulled off a 1-0 victory in the first leg thanks to a penalty kick that was converted by Bruno Petkovic. The only previous meeting between these two teams was in the same competition in 2004 and back then Benfica won 2-0 in Lisbon. Benfica have won all the three home matches they played against Croatian teams in Europe, while Dinamo have lost all the six matches they played in Portugal.

Benfica had a solid nine-game unbeaten streak going before the first-leg defeat in Zagreb, and they even defeated rivals FC Porto in the domestic league just a few days before the match in Croatia. They were unable to get back to winning ways last weekend, they got held to a 2-2 draw by Belenenses and now they are tied on 60 points with Porto at the top of the table. In the previous round Benfica qualified thanks to a 2-1 victory in the first leg at Galatasaray as the second leg ended goalless. Eduardo Salvio, German Conti and Tyronne Ebuehi are injured, while Jardel, Haris Seferovic and Lubomir Fejsa are doubts.

Dinamo Zagreb have not reached the quarter-finals of an European competition since 1970, when they lost to Schalke 04. Since then they rarely got past the first couple of rounds and this year was the first time they got past the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. They finished at the top of their group, ahead of Fenerbahce and Anderlecht, and then knocked out Plzen in the round of 32 with a 3-0 home victory after a 2-1 defeat in the first leg. Last weekend Dinamo defeated Rjeka 3-1 in the Croatian league, extending their lead at the top of the table to 17 points. Marin Leovac and Ivan Sunjic are both suspended for Thursday's match.

Probable line-ups:

Benfica: Vladochimos - Almeida, Dias, Ferro, Grimaldo - Pizzi, Fernandes, Luis, Cervi - Felix, Jonas

Dinamo: Livakovic - Stojoanovic, Theophile-Catherine, Dilaver, Rrahmani - Ademi - Kadzior, Olmo, Gojak, Orsic - Petkovic

My prediction: Benfica to win 1-0, Dinamo Zagreb will try their best to hold on to their advantage but I see this one going to penalties.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Benfica win - 1.45
Draw - 4.50
Dinamo win - 8.50

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Members Comments

  • Bulgaria sharpe


    Benfica have been always been the favorite to overcome the deficit they've got from the first match but probably no one of their fans expected it would be so tough.

    The first goal came quite late in the 71th minute and the Portuguese team needed an overtime to score another couple of goals and assure their place in the last 8.

    Have to congrats Dinamo Zagreb for their great performances in this year's tournament, they've been so close to make this huge upset as well, so well done to them.

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