Benfica vs Dinamo Zagreb
UEFA Europa League
Date: Thursday, 14 March 2019
Kick-Off at 20:00 UK / 21:00 CET
Venue: Estadio da Luz (Lisbon).
Benfica’s boss Bruno Lage obviously underestimated Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb leaving the likes of Andre Almeida, Jonas and Pizzi at home in Lisbon before the first leg of this last 16 round tie in Zagreb. It could prove out to be a fatal decision on terms of Benfica’s ambitions of going all the way in Europa League as they now have to chase the one-goal deficit coming into the reverse fixture at Estadio da Luz.
The gulf in quality between the two teams should be notable and Benfica are still favourites to advance in spite of the mentioned defeat in the first game. They have a much bigger European pedigree and they generally played well under the new manager Bruno Lage in recent weeks.
The strong spell of form saw Benfica overtake Porto at the top of the Primeira Liga standings thanks to a massive 1-2 victory over huge rivals ten days ago at Estadio Do Dragao. However, the Eagles went on to lose 1-0 at Dinamo and play only a 2-2 draw at home to Belenenses on Monday, meaning they are now level on points with Porto at the top of the standings.
Benfica vs Dinamo Zagreb: Head-to-head
The two sides played each other in the group stage of Europa League back in the 2004/05 campaign when Benfica took a 2-0 victory at Estadio da Luz.
This will only be the third head to head meeting between these two outfits, following last week’s narrow 1-0 victory for Dinamo Zagreb.
Benfica vs Dinamo Zagreb: Prediction
Dinamo will enter the game in higher spirits as they dispatched main domestic challengers Rijeka 3-1 at home in the mixed line-up on Sunday. The team led by Nenad Bjelica are 17 points clear at the top of the 1. HNL standings and they are fully concentrated on a potential upset here in the Europa League.
Bjelica will have to make some adjustments to his starting line-up as he will be without important midfielder Ivan Sunjic who is suspended after getting booked seven days ago at Stadion Maksimir. The Eagles won 10, drew 2 and lost 1 of last 13 games on the home pitch. Dinamo have already done a massive job by reaching this stage of the competition, but we can hardly imagine them eliminating the likes of Benfica here.
Benfica vs Dinamo Zagreb: Bet Tips
Benfica to qualify @ 1.95 (19/20)
Benfica -1.5 handicap @ 2.30 (13/10).