Liverpool make seven changes to the team sent out in Lisbon. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Virgil van Dijk, Thiago, Fabinho, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all rested, dropping to the bench. In come Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Kostas Tsimikas.
Benfica make just one change from the first leg, and it’s enforced. Right-sided winger Rafa Silva in injured, so Diogo Gonçalves takes his place.
Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas, Keita, Milner, Henderson, Jota, Firmino, Diaz.
Subs: Fabinho, van Dijk, Thiago, Mane, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Robertson, Origi, Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott.
Benfica: Vlachodimos, Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo, Taarabt, Weigl, Goncalves, Goncalo Ramos, Everton, Nunez.
Subs: Meite, Seferovic, Yaremchuk, Joao Mario, Lazaro, Radonjic, Gil Dias, Andre Almeida, Bernardo, Helton Leite, Morato, Pedro Alvaro.
Referee: Serdar Gozubuyuk (Netherlands).
History tells us that Liverpool are home and hosed already. That’s because Liverpool have been victorious all 35 ties in Uefa competition in which they’ve won the first leg away from home. Last week’s 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light therefore puts them in quite the favourable position to make it through to a semi-final with Villarreal.
Nothing’s ever that simple, though, as the last of those 35 ties may illustrate. In the previous round, the Reds won 2-0 away at Internazionale, only for the Italian champions to come haring back at them at Anfield. Had Alexis Sánchez not got himself stupidly sent off seconds after Lautaro Martínez gave an increasingly confident Inter the lead, that run could well have ended at 34, and we wouldn’t be here today. Sliding tackle, sliding doors.
Benfica gave Liverpool the runaround for 25 second-half minutes last week, and there’s no reason why the Portuguese giants can’t make life as uncomfortable for the home side again tonight, just as Inter did. Can they put paid to Liverpool’s proud European sequence, and go one step closer to breaking the curse of Béla Guttmann, which has seen the club lose eight European finals since refusing to give the man who led them to the 1961 and 1962 European Cups a pay rise? Or will Liverpool finish the job they so impressively started last week in Lisbon? We’ll find out soon enough. Kick off at Anfield is at 8pm BST. It’s on!