UEFA Champions League - Benfica v Celtic Preview

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Sports' started by gjsportsblog, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. gjsportsblog

    gjsportsblog Rookie

    Not sure how much of a soccer following there is on here but I'm a huge Celtic fan and wrote this on my blog about tonight/this afternoons game...

    Benfica v Celtic Preview

    Celtic head to Lisbon tonight to play Benfica knowing that a win would secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    It's a great position for Celtic to be in, especially as we have been disappointing in Europe in recent seasons. Credit has to go to Neil Lennon who has built an excellent squad. It is a very young squad and if Celtic can build on it, the next few years should be a great time to follow the Hoops.

    Tonight's opponents Benfica are in good form. They have won their last five games in all competitions without conceding a goal. In their league they are unbeaten in thirteen games and their last league loss was in April, away to city rivals Sporting Lisbon. This season, they have picked up seven wins and two draws in their first nine games and are sat joint top with FC Porto.

    As impressive as Benfica have been domestically, their home form in the Champions League isn't as good. They have won just five of their last ten home games in the competition. They have drawn two and lost three. That record would suggest that the Estadio da Luz is far from a fortress. Teams usually rely on their home form in this competition but teams have been able to get a result against Benfica so Celtic should take positives from that.

    Celtic have a respectable record in Portugal in European competitions. They have played on Portuguese soil twelve times and won five. None of the twelve games have finished in a draw and Celtic have lost seven. Obviously the most famous victory was the 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup Final. Celtic have also picked up wins against Leixoes, Vitoria SC and Boavista twice. The “big three” of FC Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon have all got a one hundred percent record at home to Celtic and none of them have even conceded a goal. The task is certainly going to be difficult for Celtic but not impossible.

    In tonight's game, Celtic are without Emilio Izaguirre, Thomas Rogne and James Forrest. There will be late fitness tests for Scott Brown, Joe Ledley and Gary Hooper. Regardless of the outcome of those tests I think the back five will pick itself. Fraser Forster will be in goal with Mikael Lustig, Efe Ambrose, Kelvin Wilson and Adam Matthews in front of him. The midfield will depend on the fitness tests. If everyone is fit, I'd expect Celtic to line up with Scott Brown, Victor Wanyama, Joe Ledley and Charlie Mulgrew across the middle. Should Brown or Ledley miss out, Kris Commons and Beram Kayal would be the likely replacements. Up front, I expect to see Georgios Samaras in the hole playing behind Gary Hooper or Miku, depending on Hooper's fitness. That formation has got us this far and I'd expect Neil Lennon to stick with it.

    This game will be very difficult for Celtic. It's do or die time for Benfica, who face Barcelona in their final game. Benfica need to beat us to have a realistic chance of qualifying and they will come at Celtic straight from the kick off. They will undoubtedly be the better side technically but Celtic will match them with determination and effort. The first twenty minutes will be crucial and if Celtic can get off to a good start the home fans will become impatient. Celtic need to play this game exactly the way they played the two Barcelona games. Sit back, soak up the pressure and launch counter attacks. If they can do those things well there's no reason why Neil Lennon's men can't get a positive result.
  2. TheDuke

    TheDuke Breast Man

    Yes!!! Another football fan!!
  3. gjsportsblog

    gjsportsblog Rookie

    who do you support?
  4. TheDuke

    TheDuke Breast Man

    It will sound funny but I don't actually support anyone internationally. I'm a huge Portland Timbers fan within the MLS but don't know enough about the world to "like" someone and not seem like a bandwagoner. But I do enjoy me some football.
  5. gjsportsblog

    gjsportsblog Rookie

    Big Kris Boyd still in Portland?
  6. TheDuke

    TheDuke Breast Man

    For the moment. He's signed until next season but I truly doubt that he's a Timber next season. By the time they figured out how to get service to him they fired John Spencer and went with a few homegrown guys. i think had he stayed on he'd of scored much more but when he played there was CRAPTY service from the center.
  7. gjsportsblog

    gjsportsblog Rookie

    he played for rangers. good finisher but brought little else.

    a guy i went to school with is playing in the mls. jonny steele, real salt lake.