Arsenal are looking well and truly out of the top four race in the Premier League, which makes the Europa League their best route to Champions League football next season. Will they do the business against Benfica? Find out what we think with our betting predictions below.
Benfica vs Arsenal top free prediction
Neither Benfica or Arsenal are showing great form in their domestic campaigns making the Europa League campaign extra important. How will the game go? The below table gives a summarised insight into our predictions.
|Benfica vs Arsenal tips||Our prediction and odds||Bookmaker||Bet here|
|Over/Under 3.5 Goals||Over @ 9/4||
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|Anytime goal scorer||Darwin Nunez @ 23/10||
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|Match result||Arsenal @ 39/29||
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Please note, betting odds are subject to change. Always check with the bookmaker before placing your bet.
The lack of home advantage hands edge to the Gunners
As already touched on, both Benfica and Arsenal are having awful seasons in comparison to their own lofty ambitions but as they come head-to-head in the last 32 of the Europa League they have the chance to start moving forwards. For Arsenal, their form this season will have come as a surprise given how well they ended last year whilst Benfica fans perhaps should have seen their drop off coming having lost players like Ruben Dias and Carlos Vinicius in the summer.
In respect of the usually domestically dominant Benfica, they find themselves well off the pace in fourth position and some 13 points off the top. Despite that aforementioned loss of Dias, they do still boast a strong defence with just 17 goals conceded in 19 league matches. A large part of that solid backbone is the ageing pair of former Premier League centre backs in Nicolas Otamendi, who Mikel Arteta will know well from his time at Man City, and former Tottenham man Jan Vertonghen. It's fair to say the challenge awaiting those two is going to be slightly tougher than what they're used to in Portugal.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who has struggled for form this season, is fresh off the back of a hat-trick so will arrive in high spirits; although pre-match talk has centred around his off the pitch conduct. Other attacking players who could well feature include Willian and Nicolas Pepe; the latter has six goal contributions to his name from the group phase. That duo of wide men could have big roles to play with Benfica's only real injury of note Gilberto, who happens to be their first choice right back. All that said, Benfica will feel they can trouble the Arsenal defence as well with the Gunners far from water tight.
One huge factor we've not yet touched on though is the neutral ground. A trip to Benfica is normally a very tough day at the office with the Portuguese club boasting a tremendous record in European competitions. Thankfully for Arsenal, they don't have to contend with that hostile atmosphere.
Will it all boil down to the team that takes their chances?
Before we get into the meat of our tips, let's just have another look at what predictions we made:
- Bet one: Over 3.5 goals, 9/4
- Bet two: Darwin Nunez to score anytime, 11/5
- Bet three: Arsenal to win, 39/29
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Over 3.5 goals
Predicting a goalfest when Benfica's league form shows them to concede just 0.9 goals per game and Arsenal sit just over the 1 mark might sound crazy but bear with us. Benfica are rarely up against the attacking quality Arteta's men have. In Otamendi and Vertonghen, you have two experienced heads that lack pace. By contrast, Arsenal's side now has youth, pace and, when things click, the ability to score at will. Arsenal will be full of confidence after their last game and keen to make a quick start. If they score first, Benfica will be forced to open up a little bit and that could leave space in behind. If that happens the centre backs could be in for a horrid time.
Darwin Nunez to score anytime
A lot of this reasoning will feed the prior tip we mentioned also but, we wanted to keep the blurb separate. Yes, Arsenal can hurt Benfica. Don't get confused though. Benfica have tidy players at the top end of the field as well. The pick of the bunch though is Nunez. The 21-year-old Uruguayan only joined Benfica in September but after notching 12 goals and laying on nine assists in his first 30 appearances in Europe he's already attracting interest from the big five leagues. With players like Haris Seferovic and Pizzi, who have had a hand in 29 goals between them this season, to play off he'll fancy his chances against Arsenal's defence. The lad knows where the net is.
Arsenal to win
In normal circumstances, an ‘away' match against Benfica would be a much tougher ask for Arsenal. The difference in quality is there for all to see when comparing 11 versus 11 with the deciding factors down to mentality. When you begin to throw in things like Benfica's poor form, Arsenal riding the wave of a good performance against Leeds and the absence of fans then the scales tilt in Arsenal's favour. If the Gunners are at it and score early, they could get the tie sewn up.
What you need to know for the kick off
Where can you watch the match?
You can watch the game on DAZN or BT Sport.
What bookies offer the best odds?
Based on the predictions we've made, SBK offer market leading odds on all but one prediction.
Where is the game being played?
The fact Benfica cannot host this match at Estadio da Luz is a huge blow to their hopes. Instead, the match will be played in Rome.
How does Liga NOS compare to the other big leagues?
Europe's top five leagues are head and shoulders above the Portuguese first tier but only in the sense of overall depth. The likes of Benfica, Porto and Sporting are very good teams but the challenge theyface is holding on to their talented players with the examples endless; Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandesare just a few hence, in knockout football, they have been known to mix it up with the best of them.
How did Benfica perform in the group stages?
Benfica finished second in group D behind Rangers. Despite only finishing runners up, they didn't lose a game.