UEFA Europa League

Europa League Preview: Marseille head to Benfica

Europa League Preview: Marseille head to Benfica

UEFA Europa League
Publish on 04/10 at 19:00 - E. DEVIN


Olympique de Marseille will head to Lisbon looking to shake off a downturn in their league form in the Europa League quarterfinals

In a matchup of two of the competition's biggest names, Olympique de Marseille are back in Europa League action tomorrow as they head to Lisbon to take on SL Benfica. Each of the clubs has won Europe's biggest trophy in the past, and despite the fact both would likely rather be in the Champions League, they will still be ready to welcome this tie with the sort of fervent enthusiasm for which each are known.

For the visitors, a return to Europe may be a welcome tonic to their faltering league form. In OM's first few matches under Jean-Louis Gasset - their third manager of the season -- they looked a force with which to be reckoned. That seemed to change with an uneven display in a second-leg loss against Villarreal in the previous round, though. After winning the first leg 4-0, they lost the second, 3-1, triggering a tailspin that has seen them lose each of their subsequent three league matches, including to ten-man Paris Saint-Germain. It's a chain of results which has seen them slip from European competition domestically, but could well give them extra motivation in this tie.

As for Benfica, they, too are coming off a frustrating pair of domestic results. On Saturday in the league, they lost to Sporting Club, dropping four points behind their city rivals. This came on the heels of a two-all draw in the Taça de Portugal which saw them eliminated by that same Sporting side. A response will be needed against their French opposition, and manager Roger Schmidt will have plenty of options.

Chief among these, of course, will be a face familiar to Ligue 1 Uber Eats fans - Ángel Di María. The Argentine is several years removed from a trophy-laden spell at PSG, but his three goals and two assists in just four matches in the competition underscore the threat he still poses, even past his 36th birthday. Central striker Arthur Cabral has also reached double figures in goal, while playmaker Rafa Silva is a similar threat. Elsewhere in the side, Di María's countryman Nicolás Otamendi offers an assured presence in defence, while other former Ligue 1 players include Juan Bernat, Florentino Luis and Gonçalo Guedes.

Marseille will try to go toe-to-toe with their own array of attacking talent, led by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international is the competition's leading scorer this season, and he'll be aided in his task by Amine Harit (six assists) and fit-again Jordan Veretout, among others. What Gasset won't be able to rely on, however, is more than a half-dozen players missing through injury or not being included in the competition squad. From French international right back Jonathan Clauss to tricky winger Ismaïla Sarr, the team's many absences could make this a challenging tie, and one not likely to be settled in until the end of its 180+ minutes.

Predicted lineups:

SL Benfica: (4-2-3-1): Trubin; Bah, A. Silva, Otamendi, Aursnes; Luis, Neves; Di María, R. Silva, Neres; Tengstedt

Olympique de Marseille (4-3-3): López; Mbemba, Gigot, Balerdi, Merlin; Veretout, Kondogbia, Harit; Sarr, Moumbagna, Aubameyang

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