Benfica vs Club Brugge predictions: Routine progress expected for hosts
- Benfica have won 16 of 18 games at home
- Club Brugge have not scored in four Champions League games
- Recommended bet: Benfica to win to zero
Benfica are on course to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the second season in a row as they will take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their round of 16 tie with Club Brugge at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.
Goals from Joao Mario and David Neres helped the Portuguese giants take control of the tie in Belgium three weeks ago and they will now expect to advance through to the last eight of Europe's premier club competition in successive seasons for the first time in the Champions League era.
Brugge face an uphill task if they are to turn the tie around in Portugal, with the pressure mounting on head coach Scott Parker, who has only won two of his 11 matches in all competitions since taking charge at the end of December.
Benfica head coach Roger Schmidt is expected to name a similar starting XI to last month's first leg, although midfielder Chiquinho is a major doubt due to a muscular issue.
Mihailo Ristic (muscle) and Julian Draxler (ankle) will also continue to miss out, while Wolves loanee Goncalo Guedes, who came off the bench in Belgium, is struggling with a sore knee.
Brugge are sweating over the fitness of defender Jack Hendry, who missed Friday's 3-0 defeat to Oostende in the Jupiler Pro League due to a quadricep injury. The Scotland international was one of the villains of the piece for Parker's team during the first leg, as he conceded the penalty that led to Mario scoring the opening goal.
Winger Andreas Skov Olsen will also miss out as he continues his recovery from appendix surgery, but Raphael Onyedika was back on the bench against Oostende following illness and he may now come into contention to start in Lisbon.
Benfica have not made it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League/European Cup in successive seasons since 1969 when they were beaten by Ajax in the last eight having made it all the way to the final the previous year.
The Eagles have won all three of their domestic matches since beating Brugge in the first leg, with Friday's 2-0 victory over Famalicao helping to preserve their eight-point advantage at the top of the Primeira Liga standings.
Schmidt's side are also unbeaten in their last 12 Champions League matches — including qualifying — a run that incorporates beating Juventus home and away and drawing both of their meetings with Paris Saint-Germain.
Only two teams, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, have won at Benfica in the Champions League since 2019, while the two-time champions of Europe are unbeaten in their 18 matches at the Estadio da Luz this season across all competitions.
Brugge won their opening three matches in this season's Champions League — including a 4-0 victory on their last visit to Portugal against Porto — but they have failed to triumph or even score in their four European fixtures since.
The Blue-Black parted ways with the man that had masterminded their passage through to the last 16, Carl Hoefkens, over the festive period, with ex-England international Parker being appointed as his replacement.
However, things have not gone well for the former Bournemouth boss at the Jan Breydel Stadium to date, with Friday's defeat to Oostende leaving Brugge 21 points behind leaders Genk at the top of the Jupiler Pro League.
Parker questioned his own future at the club following that loss and another poor showing in Lisbon could bring his short tenure to a premature end.
Both of Benfica's goals may have stemmed from Brugge mistakes during the first leg, but there is no doubting there is a gulf in class between these two sides, with another comfortable win for the Portuguese giants expected on Tuesday.
Schmidt has seen his side win 16 of their 18 home matches this season, keeping clean-sheets in nine of those games, including in their European successes over Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Haifa.
The goals have dried up for Brugge on the continent and, given the struggles Parker and his side have faced over recent months, it is difficult to see the visitors laying a glove on their hosts.
This should be a comfortable home win to zero for Benfica, whose supporters may already be analysing the potential opponents they could face in the last eight.