Benfica vs BarcelonaUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Sep 29, 2021, Estadio Da Luz
BARCELONA remain a club mired in crisis and the heat will intensify on boss Ronald Koeman if he crashes to another Champions League defeat against Benfica in Lisbon.
Leading Barca into the post-Messi era was always going to be a difficult task but it's an even more difficult job with the club haemorrhaging money and divided by political infighting.
Returning to the top in Spain, never mind Europe, looks like a Herculean task this season and I was one of many punters who lumped on Bayern Munich for a Nou Camp win in their Champions League opener.
That 3-0 defeat summed up how far behind Europe's elite Barcelona are at the moment and it was followed by dispiriting draws against Granada and Cadiz in La Liga.
But Koeman's side recovered to beat Levante 3-0 at the weekend and another win at the Estadio Da Luz would put them in a strong position to qualify for the last 16 in Europe.
That won't be an easy task, however, with Benfica unbeaten in 12 games this season, including tricky games in Europe against PSV Eindhoven and Dynamo Kiev.
How the bookies view it
Head to head
These Euro heavyweights have met seven times and Barca have bossed it, winning three and losing just once. The last meeting came nine years ago in the Champions League, where a 2-0 Barcelona win in Lisbon (below) was followed by 0-0 Nou Camp stalemate.
Barcelona are still missing a lot of firepower with Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite out injured while Pedri and Jordi Alba also remain sidelined. Ansu Fati made a scoring return off the bench at the weekend but will probably start on the bench again.
Benfica are without Swiss striker Haris Seferovic while wide boy Diogo Goncalves is an injury doubt.
Players to watch
Roman Yaremchuk heads into the game with confidence high after scoring twice for Benfica at the weekend. He also impressed at the Euros for Ukraine and is a decent 21/10 with BetVictor for anytime scorer.
Memphis Depay (below) has been carrying most of the burden for Barcelona goals and has three for the season with his new club. The Dutchman is 17/10 at Betfred to net in Lisbon.
Anything else catch the eye?
There should be goals as Barcelona desperately need a win and Benfica will see this as their chance to take a big stride towards the last 16 with a victory. Both teams to score pays just 20/27 at Mansionbet though and over 2.5 goals isn't much better at 7/8 with SBK.
The card markets always offer decent prices and Barcelona veteran Sergio Busquets is 6/4 at Unibet to pick up his fourth card of the season.
This UEFA Champions League match between Benfica and Barcelona will be played on Sep 29, 2021 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Benfica vs Barcelona prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.