Next Thursday, April 3, 2014 (12:05 PM Pacific) the Portuguese historical side SL Benfica will travel to Holland to play against AZ Alkmaar for the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Quarterfinals.
SL Benfica have been enjoying a fantastic moment on the Portuguese Premier League so far
this season. Being seven points ahead of Sporting CP and having a difference of fifteen to the
current champions (FC Porto), SL Benfica has virtually granted their chance of lifting this term’s
After leaving Tottenham behind on the last round of the UEFA Europa League, with an
indisputable win at White Hart Lane, the Portuguese side’s manager, Jorge Jesus, will probably
present the same successful tactical recipe he applied in London at the AZ Stadion. Jorge Jesus
often opts for a 442 tactical style although this season he has somehow changed his approach
by stretching the team’s lines a little bit and by that transforming his regular 442 into a 4231
For next Thursday’s match, the Portuguese manager will have most of his important players
available, with the exception of Enzo Pérez, who is suspended. The Brazilian goalkeeper Artur
and the young talented Portuguese forward Ivan Cavaleiro are not 100% physically fit but they
should recover until the day of the match.
The home side, AZ Alkmaar, is probably not having the season their supporters were expecting
at the eredivisie. The team is sitting on the seventh place of the table, eighteen points behind the
league leaders (Ajax) and they have been quite inconsistent throughout the season so far. Their
manager, Dick Advocaat, one of Rinus Michels’ disciples, has only arrived this season at the
club and he still hasn’t managed to implement the short passing game style that made him
famous,for example, at the helm of Zenit St. Petersburg.
On the previous round of the UEFA Europa League, AZ Alkmaar defeated the “former” Russian
millionaires FK Anzhi with a 10 home win. The Dutch side has only conceded one goal during
their last four international matches and they will certainly opt for a more defensive approach for
their next Thursday’s match against SL Benfica.
Dick Advocaat will certainly rely on the talent of the Serbian midfielder Nemanja Gudelj and the
goal scoring instinct of the IcelandicAmerican forward Aron Jónhannson to disrupt SL Benfica’s
Judging from the careers both teams have had so far at European competitions this season, it
will certainly be a very close match, although the Portuguese side might enjoy a slight advantage
because of the intensity of their attacking game. This being said, the most likely outcome is 2-1
for SL Benfica.
TV Info: 12:05 PM Pacific, Fox Soccer Plus & Fox Soccer 2Go
AZ Alkmaar (433) Esteban Johansson Gouweleeuw Viergever Poulsen Ortiz Gudelj
Elm Beerens Berghuis Jónhannson
SL Benfica (442) Oblak Maxi Pereira Luizão Garay Siqueira Fejsa R. Amorim Gaitán
Markovic Rodrigo Lima