Toulouse vs Benfica

Stadium de Toulouse forms the backdrop for the return leg of a hard-fought Europa League knockout playoff tie between Toulouse and Benfica.

Toulouse’s first European campaign in 14 years is in jeopardy after giving away two second-half penalties in a 2-1 defeat in Lisbon last weekend. Angel Di Maria was relentless from the spot both times to give the Ligue 1 relegation-battling strugglers a mountain to climb in the return leg, but there’s a silver lining. ‘Le Tefece’ defied the odds to beat Monaco 2-1 at the weekend, posting only their second win in six competitive matches (L4). They can turn to the home comforts of the Stadium de Toulouse for inspiration after going unbeaten in all three home outings in this season’s Europa League group stages (W2, D1). However, Carles Martinez Novell’s men have gone winless in all five home matches since the group phase concluded (D2, L3), casting doubt on their hopes to upset the apple cart.

On the other hand, high-flying Benfica take this trip with an outstanding record to uphold after closing out 50 of the last 60 UEFA ties in which they’ve won the first leg on home turf. Though Benfica’s one-goal lead may look fragile, they’ve progressed from 21 of their 29 previous two-legged ties after earning such an advantage in the first leg at home. However, there’s a genuine reason for concern, considering the ‘Eagles’ have suffered defeats in half of their 16 European ties on French soil, registering just four triumphs (D4, L8). On a positive note, Roger Schmidt’s side took another stride to defend their Primeira Liga crown at the weekend, humbling Vizela 6-1 at home to make it five wins in their last six competitive games (D1).

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