Benfica will host the Greek side PAOK at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, looking for a back-to-back Champions League group stage promotion following a rather disastrous last season’s appearance where they suffered elimination in the group phase with all six defeats. The Eagles, who took part in the International Champions Cup, recording two losses and a win, have already eliminated the Turkish giants Fenerbahce 2-1 on aggregate, although they were lucky to avoid defeat in Istanbul, where the Yellow Canaries missed a few sitters, allowing Rui Vitória’s team to advance to the playoff round. Meanwhile, in the domestic championship, Benfica clinched two consecutive wins in the opening two fixtures, thus keeping up the pace with Porto. On the other hand, Dikefalos tou Vorra or the “two-headed eagle of the north” in English, have had a tough road that led them to the playoff round, as they had to go past Basel and Spartak Moscow, which they have done in style. The Swiss champions have been eliminated 5-1 on aggregate, while the Russian holders suffered a 3-2 defeat in Thessaloniki, which was enough eventually to see the Greek team one step away from the Champions League group stage.
As things stand, Tyronne Ebuehi and Nicolas Castillo will skip the match for the home side, while the appearance of Jonas still hangs in the balance. As for the visitors, Răzvan Lucescu will have all of his players fit and ready for the trip to Portugal.
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