Benfica visit Belgium to take on Anderlecht in the Champions League on Wednesday night, knowing they need a win to keep their chances of progressing from Group H alive.
The Portuguese outfit is currently third in the pool, six points behind leaders Paris St Germain. However, only three points separate Jorge Jesus' men and second-placed Olympiacos, meaning a win for Benfica tonight - combined with a PSG triumph over Olympiacos in the other fixture - will place them level on points with the Greek side, going into the last gameweek.
Benfica have gotten off to a good start in their domestic campaign and are currently just a point behind leaders Porto. The Eagles warmed up for this game by defeating rivals Sporting Braga 1-0 at the weekend, and will be confident of their chances of getting the better of Anderlecht tonight.
"All matches are important for us, just like the one against PSG [on matchday six]. Not only on the pitch but also financially. Anderlecht have a good team; all the teams in this Champions League group are of a high standard. We have a lot of respect for them. But we think match by match, so this game against Anderlecht is the most important one right now," manager Jesus pointed out.
"We definitely need to get a victory here. If we manage to do so, we can still progress in the Champions League. Otherwise we can only think about continuing in the Europa League at best. But we are determined to win this one. This match will determine the rest of the season for Benfica," he added.
Meanwhile, Anderlecht have managed just one point in the campaign so far and their only chance of continuing the European adventure this season is by finishing third and qualifying for the second tier competition - Europa League.
John van den Brom's side have not been in the best of form of late and lost to Royal Charleroi 2-1 at the weekend in the domestic circle. However, the Belgians will take heart from their last European outing, where they held the mighty PSG to a 1-1 draw in Paris.
"This could be a real Champions League cracker. We are going for third place while Benfica need a win to keep alive their Champions League hopes. We both want the win. We have digested it and I hope for a good reaction tomorrow. I am happy to have a full squad to choose from. As a coach you have more choices and there is more competition between the players," stressed van den Brom.
"Since matchday one Benfica have improved. They were in poorer shape then but we still lost the match early on. We have stepped up since then, though. It would be nice if we could round off our home Champions League campaign with a victory. We have to return to the heights we reached in Paris [on matchday four]. We could really use the support of our fans," he added.
Benfica won the reverse fixture in Portugal 2-0, back in September.
Anderlecht: van den Brom has a full squad to choose from with the exception of forward Matias Suarez, who misses out with a knee injury.
Benfica: Striker Oscar Cardozo (back) and winger Miralem Sulejmani (thigh) have been sidelined for the Portuguese side, while on-loan wing-back Guilherme Siqueira (knock) remains a doubt.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Thursday morning, with no live coverage in India. You can catch the action live online by clicking the official UEFA link HERE. To live stream the action in North Africa and the Middle East, click HERE. To watch the match in the U.S. via Fox Sports click HERE. To catch all the action via live streaming in the U.K., click HERE.
Anderlecht: Proto; Vanden Borre, Kouyate, Mbemba, Deschacht; De Zeeuw, Milivojevic, Kljestan; Bruno, Mitrovic, Praet
Benfica: Artur; Silvio, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira; Matic, Perez, Djuricic; Gaitan, Markovic, Lima
Prediction: 2-1 to Benfica