Benfica’s hopes of clinching the Primeira Liga title are up in smoke, but Jorge Jesus will be looking for a response from his players after exiting the Europa League, and they face Rio Ave on Monday at 7pm (UK time).
The Lisbon-based club were eliminated by Arsenal in the dying embers of their round-of-32 clash in Greece on Thursday night, but Jesus will want to quickly put that result to one side and refocus his gaze on domestic matters, with middling Rio Ave travelling to the Estadio da Luz.
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Where to watch Benfica vs Rio Ave on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: GOLTV
Scoreline prediction: Benfica 3-1 Rio Ave
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Benfica vs Rio Ave build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
There is now a 16-point gap between Benfica and current Primeira Liga front-runners Sporting CP, who remain unbeaten this season. Jesus returned to Benfica in the summer but has been unable to mount a serious title challenge and must look to rectify his side’s current form, with just two wins from their last nine league outings.
Rio Ave look relatively relaxed in ninth, some seven places above the drop zone, but their standing does not reflect the true nature of the league table, as Miguel Cardoso’s side are just three points above the relegation play-offs. In fact, there is just five points separating last place from Rio Ave in mid table.
- Benfica (vs Arsenal): Leite; Verissimo, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Goncalves, Pizzi, Weigl, Taarabt, Grimaldo; Silva, Seferovic.
- Rio Ave (vs Famalicao): Kieszek; Monte, Borevkovic, Santos, Savio; Augusto, Pele, Geraldes; Mane, Camacho, Gelson.
Andre Almeida and Jardel remain long-term absentees for the hosts, who came through Thursday night’s game unscathed. Rio Ave meanwhile are without Nikola Jambor and Andre Pereira.
Players to watch:
- Benfica: Darwin Nunez started on the bench on Thursday night as Jesus turned to the more robust and experienced Haris Seferovic, but the Uruguayan will be keen to return to Benfica’s starting XI next week and resume his scintillating start to Portuguese football, during which time the 21-year-old has directly contributed to 10 goals, including notching four himself and providing six assists, which has also subsequently seen his stock skyrocket and fired his name into perennial links with the usual big hitters in Europe.
- Rio Ave: Despite Vilacondenses’ position in the table looking somewhat stable, the reality remains a concern for the visitors, who are just three points from the dreaded drop. So, although Cardoso’s side are in mid table, they are very much in a relegation scrap, and if they are to avoid tussling with those below them as we rapidly head for the business end of the season, then the likes of Carlos Mane will need to continue producing and causing mayhem in the final third. The former Portugal U23 international has been in irresistible form this term and is Rio’s most productive player, having provided four goals and two assists. If Cardoso is to mastermind and unlikely win against a deflated Benfica, then Mane’s involvement will be key to achieving that.
Primeira Liga 2020/21 recent form:
- Benfica: DDWDL
- Rio Ave: LWWDL
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