There is a growing sense that something special could happen this season, as Benfica marched into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, keen to confront whatever challenges this last eight stage of the competition may bring.

They also boast an impressive lead at the Primera Liga summit, indicating that focus remains just as keen on the principal domestic football obligation. 

German coach Roger Schmidt appears to have found the winning formula, providing The Eagles with the lift they need, forging a team capable of battling for top honours regardless of recent big-name departures, Darwin Núñez and Enzo Fernández.

Form and fortunes in the UCL are sufficient evidence to underline this point, having soared their way through another crucial elimination tie, on the back of exemplary performances in the group stage. 

When the draw for the quarter-finals is held on Friday 17 March, scheduled to be streamed via the UEFA website at 12:00 CET, there is no doubting that Benfica fans will be watching events unfold with rapt attention. Their pulses will be racing, waiting for that little bit of paper with their club’s name to be held to the cameras, alongside that of the next opponent.

Superb 2022/23 UCL trajectory

Were they to lift the iconic trophy this season, Benfica will have done so via one of the longest routes possible, tasked with qualifying for the lucrative group stage of the competition. Thankfully, they overcame the potential banana skins in their path, overcoming Danish side FC Midtjylland then displaced Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kyiv, on their way through the third and fourth qualifying rounds.

But having reached the competition proper, alongside Israeli underdogs Maccabi Haifa, the chances of Benfica reaching the knockout phase were considered to be slim. Group H of the draw also pitted them against Italian giants Juventus, plus the French wealth of Paris Saint-Germain with Lionel Messi et-al. Nevertheless, the Portuguese club promptly went about defying the odds that had been stacked against them.

The Eagles comfortably dealt with any potential threats posed by Maccabi Haifa, along with holding PSG at bay on both occasions, and emerged victorious following two pulsating encounters with Juventus. Incredibly, with numbers for group leadership tied between PSG and Benfica, first and second positions were ultimately decided by goals scored in away matches, which is actually the seventh factor of consideration in the Champions League by UEFA. João Mário’s long-range strike in the 3rd minute of stoppage time in Israel made all the difference.

The Round of 16 draw was largely favourable for Benfica, who managed to avoid being paired with any of the UCL favourites. However, nothing can be taken for granted in this elimination stage, and the side coached by Roger Schmidt certainly left nothing to chance. They earned an excellent 0-2 win away at Club Bruges, then confidently finished the job in the second leg, thrashing the Belgian side 5-1 before a jubilant crowd at Estadio da Luz.

The importance of that group win was emphasised by the fact PSG, who Benfica pushed into second place in the section, were subsequently drawn against Bayern Munich and promptly dumped out of the competition.

Flight plan for success awaits The Eagles

Having now booked their passage into the quarter-finals, Benfica will soon discover their next opponents in the UEFA Champions League. Friday’s draw will map out the trajectory for all the final eight remaining teams, including the pathway through the semi-finals and towards the final itself. Yet regardless of their excellent progress thus far, the Portuguese club remains an outside consideration for outright betting markets.

Currently priced at anywhere between 19.00 shortest and 26.00 longest odds, using the popular European format, bookies continue to doubt the capacity for Benfica to surprise. Although this also highlights the value of comparing available odds, based upon the latest reviews and online betting guides from SBO experts, who seek to provide the most useful insights available.

Benfica will certainly have their work cut out for them, whichever team they are tasked with facing next in the UEFA Champions League, but underestimating their capabilities and potential would clearly be a huge mistake. They seem ready to take flight and soar towards achieving the biggest success possible, much to the delight of supporters, most of whom probably weren’t even born when this historic titan last achieved the feat in 1961 and 1962.


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