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Benfica vs Marseille: Preview and Prediction

Benfica became the first club to reach the Europa League quarter-finals for the sixth time with a 1-0 win in Glasgow over Rangers (3-2 on aggregate).

The Portuguese side looked to be heading into this quarter-final against Marseille on a high, but their trophy ambitions have suffered two blows in recent weeks with defeats in two Lisbon derbies against Sporting: they were knocked out of the Taça de Portugal semi-finals and missed the chance to go top of the league.

The club will now be looking to prove that bad things don’t come in threes by reaching their first European semi-final since the 2013/14 Europa League. Coach Roger Schmidt was already under pressure, especially after refusing to apologize for a 5-0 defeat to Porto earlier this month – and that pressure has only intensified.

He should at least be confident of not losing the first leg against Marseille as Benfica have never lost a Europa League home game (22 wins, 6 draws).

The hosts are also fortunate to be meeting a team that is having a disastrous 2024. Under 70-year-old interim coach Jean-Louis Gasset, Marseille had a purple patch in February and March, with the coach’s first five games all won by at least two goals. They also beat Villarreal 4-0 at home, which was enough to cushion the blow of a 3-1 defeat in the second leg.

However, that defeat set the club on a run of three consecutive defeats – all by multiple goals – which has put their participation in continental competition next season in jeopardy. Local reports of discontent within the squad over Gasset’s training methods and public criticism of his players threaten to derail the entire season, but with winning this competition now their best way to get back into the Champions League, the Phocéens should be motivated for this game.

Players to watch: Benfica veteran winger Ángel Di Maria has played 17 games against Marseille. He has been involved in 11 goals against OM (5 goals, 6 assists). Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a mixed season, like his club. He has scored in their last five wins but has failed to find the net in their last five defeats.

Hot stat: There have been over 2.5 goals in nine of Marseille’s last 11 European games.

 Prediction

Predicting the exact score is difficult, but here’s a breakdown of what we can expect:

  • Benfica: Strong home record in Europa League (never lost a home game) and hungry to bounce back from recent defeats.
  • Marseille: Inconsistent form and low morale, but desperate for a win to secure European football next season.

This suggests Benfica are favorites at home, but Marseille’s potential to cause an upset shouldn’t be completely discounted. Here are two possible scenarios:

Benfica 2-1 Marseille: A close encounter with Benfica edging out Marseille thanks to their home advantage and desire to make amends for recent losses.

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