Europa League: Toulouse vs. Benfica match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Europa League: Toulouse vs. Benfica match preview, prediction, team news, lineups
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Europa League: Toulouse vs. BenficaBenfica, who are travelling to France with a slim lead, will try to seal the deal against Toulouse on Thursday night in the second leg of their Europa League playoff match.

In the first meeting last week, the Portuguese champions prevailed 2-1 thanks to two penalties scored by Angel di Maria in the second half.

Toulouse’s second-place group stage result meant the Coupe de France holders would need to clear one more barrier to continue their second-tier European campaign after Liverpool rode off into the sunset in the Europa League, but that hurdle might now be too great to surmount.

Europa League: Toulouse vs. Benfica match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Mikkel Desler’s first attempt from 12 yards out was cancelled out, seemingly putting Carles Martinez’s team on course for an admirable draw. However, with six minutes of added time remaining, the former Real Madrid player scored again from the spot after Christian Mawissa had taken out Marcos Leonardo.

An already dejected Violets team was made to take the walk of shame for the challenge, but Martinez’s team was far from home and hosed; they took seven points out of nine at home in the group stage, winning three of those points in their thrilling 3-2 victory over Liverpool.

In addition, Toulouse salvaged some pride from their Ligue 1 match against Monaco on Sunday, winning 2-1 at Stade Louis II. Logan Costa, who was responsible for the handball that gave Di Maria his first goal on Thursday, made up for that error by scoring the game’s winning goal in the 70th minute.

But Martinez’s team hasn’t kept a clean sheet in six straight games and hasn’t won at home since their victory against the Reds in November. They drew their next three games before suffering three losses in their last Stadium Municipal games.

Toulouse has developed a pattern of scoring once in a home game and then failing to score in the following one. Given that the hosts’ most recent game on home soil ended in a 2-1 loss to Nantes, this sequence is encouraging for a Benfica team that just has to hang onto what they have.

The Eagles had lost all five of their group matches against Real Sociedad or Inter Milan, the Austrian champions in the continent’s top competition, and a victory over Red Bull Salzburg on matchday six came too late to salvage their Champions League bacon.

However, the visitors had never been eliminated from the Europa League knockout round playoffs after winning the first leg.

Benfica’s trip did come to an end at this stage when they faced Shakhtar Donetsk in 2019–20 and Arsenal in 2020–21.

However, the Eagles did not triumph in the first meeting in any of those matches, and Roger Schmidt’s team is also riding high at home ahead of Thursday’s rematch.

Schmidt’s team crushed Vizela 6-1 in Primeira Liga play three days after barely defeating Toulouse the first time. They scored five goals before the half-time whistle blew, and the head-to-head measure allowed them to maintain their lead above Sporting Lisbon.

Europa League: Toulouse vs. Benfica match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Benfica has scored two goals or more in each of their past six games. The visitors have also gone seven games without a loss away from home since losing to Sociedad in November’s Champions League fixture. However, they have not yet tested their mettle on Toulouse’s field.

Toulouse Europa League form:

W L W D W L

Toulouse form (all competitions):

L L W L L W

Benfica Europa League form:

W

Benfica form (all competitions):

W W W D W W

Toulouse defender Mawissa, who was only introduced in the 70th minute of last week’s match, will miss Thursday’s reunion due to suspension after being sent off for two bookable offenses in the first leg.

Martinez’s starting lineup shouldn’t be affected by Mawissa’s terrible cameo, especially since left-back Gabriel Suazo—who Mawissa filled in for against Monaco—will be back from a domestic ban in time for the second leg.

The hosts are still without Denis Genreau (groyne) and Zakaria Aboukhlal (knee), and they should move Desler, the first-leg striker, back to his right wing-back position in lieu of Warren Kamanzi.

Keeping with the full-back theme, Manchester United’s Alvaro Carreras is ready to explode down the left side once more as Benfica are still without the services of on-loan Paris Saint-Germain defender Juan Bernat owing to a muscle issue.

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After dropping numerous key players from the starting lineup over the weekend with an eye toward the second leg, Schmidt made the tactical change to withdraw Rafa Silva at halftime in the crushing of Vizela.

On Thursday, the hosts should have Di Maria, Antonio Silva, Fredrik Aursnes, and Arthur Cabral back in the starting lineup. Orkun Kokcu, the midfield pivot, is again available following a suspension in the Primeira Liga.

Toulouse possible starting lineup:

Restes; Costa, Nicolaisen, Diarra; Desler, Spierings, Sierro, Suazo; Donnum, Dallinga, Gboho

Benfica possible starting lineup:

Trubin; Aursnes, Silva, Otamendi, Carreras; Neves, Kokcu; Di Maria, Rafa, Neres; Cabral

Our prediction for this match 2-1 or 2-0 won by Benfica

Europa League: Toulouse vs. Benfica match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

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