Next Thursday, May 1, 2014 (12:05 PM Pacific), the almost Serie A champions Juventus will take on an extra-motivated SL Benfica side at the Juventus Stadium in Turin for the second leg of the UEFA Europa League Semi-finals.
After last week’s clash in Lisbon, the former European champions will measure forces once again, but this time SL Benfica enjoys a slight, although very important, 2-1 advantage. The Portuguese team put up a vintage performance last week and they easily controlled Juventus during the first half. After the break, things were slightly different, however, as the Vecchia Signora enjoyed more goal chances and ended up by grabbing the equalizer thanks to the individual effort of Carlos Tévez on the 73rd minute of the match. A few minutes later, though, when the Italian side thought was convinced of being in control of the match, SL Benfica managed to bounce back thanks to a fantastic scorcher from the flamboyant Brazilian forward Lima, which fixated the final result.
SL Benfica are currently on a fantastic moment, both domestically and internationally. Jorge Jesus’s boys clinched a fantastic and dramatic win last weekend at Estádio do Dragão against FC Porto for the Taça da Liga (League Cup) and granted their place in the final after beating last year’s Portuguese champions on penalty shots.
For the match against Juventus, Jorge Jesus will not be able to count on the Portuguese half back Silvio and on the Argentinean winger Eduardo Salvio, due to injury, while he is not yet certain if the Serbian defensive midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa and the Argentinean playmaker Nicolás Gaitán will be able to give their contribution to the team, as they are not yet fully recovered from their recent injuries.
As for Juventus, the current Italian champions need to create something very different from what they accomplished last week if they want to beat SL Benfica next Thursday. Juventus left a poor image of themselves after the first leg match at Lisbon. The Italian side was probably affected by SL Benfica’s early goal, thus failing to take control of the situation during large periods of the match.
For next Thursday’s match, Antonio Conte will not have the Italian midfielder Simone Pepe at his disposal and he is not yet certain if the skilled Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal will be ready to help the team, since he is not yet 100% fit.
The match at Juventus Stadium will certainly be a very close one between two managers with remarkable tactical expertise and between two sides that want to restore their international glory by winning the current competition. This being said, the most likely outcome is 2-1 for Juventus.
Juventus (3-5-2)- Buffon – Bonucci – Chiellini – Barzagli – Pirlo – Pogba – Vidal – Asamoah – Marchisio – Tévez – Llorente
SL Benfica (4-4-2) – Artur – Maxi Pereira – Garay – Luisão – Siqueira – Enzo Pérez – André Gomes – Rúben Amorim – Markovic – Lima – Rodrigo
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Venue: Juventus Stadium
Television: Fox Sports 1 USA