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Benfica and Atletico look to advance in Champions League

24 November 2015, 20:29

Madrid - Fourth in the Portuguese league, Benfica has been doing just fine in the Champions League.

The two-time European Cup champions lead Group C with nine points, two more than Atletico Madrid, ahead of Wednesday's trip to Kazakhstan to face Astana.

Benfica will qualify for the knockout round with a victory, and can advance with a draw unless Galatasaray beats Atletico Madrid in the other match.

At home, things are not going so well. City rival Sporting Lisbon leads the Portuguese league and knocked Benfica out of the Portuguese Cup last weekend.

Atletico, which reached the Champions League final in 2014, hosts the Turkish club needing only a draw to ensure its progress.

Here are some things to know about Wednesday's matches:


Benfica's impressive form in the Champions League has contrasted starkly with its domestic campaign.

In the league, Benfica trails Sporting by eight points. And the day after losing to Sporting in the Portuguese Cup, two dozen fans forced their way into the club training center in protest.

Benfica coach Rui Vitoria, who took charge in the offseason, will be without two of his main players against Astana — Brazilian central defender Luisao has a fractured forearm, and Argentine playmaker Gaitan is suspended.


Astana, the first Kazakh team to appear in the group phase of the Champions League, is unbeaten at home.

The club earned a 2-2 draw against Galatasaray and held Atletico to 0-0 at the Astana Arena.

In last place with two points, Astana can only keep alive its slim hopes of advancing with a win.


Atletico has not been prolific offensively this season but a stiff defense and steady play in midfield has the club in a good position in Europe and in second place in the Spanish league, ahead of rival Real Madrid.

Atletico is undefeated in eight matches across all competitions, largely thanks to goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

The Slovenian has helped Atletico concede the fewest goals in the Spanish league, six in 12 matches, and has only let two goals past him in four games in the Champions League.


Galatasaray needs to end its poor run away from home to have a chance of staying in the tournament.

The Turkish team is in third place with four points and must win at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to remain in contention. Galatasaray, however, hasn't won away in the Champions League since March 12, 2013, when it beat Schalke 3-2.

- AP


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