Prediction & odds for the game: Benfica (19/10) v Arsenal (11/8) – ST is backing the away win
When: Thursday, 18th February @ 8pm K.O
Where: Stadio Olimpico
Benfica and Arsenal will meet this week at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg of their huge UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie.
It’s been a tough league campaign for Benfica over in Portugal as they currently sit down in 4th place, 13 points behind leaders Sporting Lisbon. They won’t want to put all of their eggs in the Europa League basket just yet but it does feel as if this could be their best chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Either way, though, the fact that this isn’t being played on their own home turf is bound to hurt.
A 2-0 win over Famalicao on February 8th has been the only real positive for Benfica in recent weeks as their season continues to go quite stale. They’ve picked up draws against Porto, Nacional, Vitoria and Moreirense, and they also suffered a narrow defeat to league leaders Sporting Lisbon.
Arsenal fans don’t exactly enjoy the process of playing in the UEFA Europa League every season, mainly because they know there’s an even greater light at the end of the tunnel – the Champions League. Mikel Arteta’s goal this season is unclear, and some would even suggest his future isn’t guaranteed either, but if he does anything other than give his all in this competition, the Gunners could wind up in a really precarious position.
Inconsistency has been the key with Arsenal Football Club in the last few weeks, starting off with a 1-0 defeat against Southampton. They did bounce back with a win over the Saints in the league just a few days later, only to go on a three-game winless streak that included a draw against Manchester United and defeats against Wolves and Aston Villa. They did beat Leeds on Valentine’s Day, but there were still a few warning signs.
Given the bizarre set of circumstances surrounding European football right now, we aren’t expecting either of these teams to feel at ‘home’ in what should be a pretty uncomfortable game. Both clubs are struggling in the league and they’ll know the importance of winning this competition, which is why this one will likely go down to the wire. We do think there will be a winner, though, and that winner will be Arsenal – but only just.
Our official scoreline prediction is going to be 1-0 Arsenal, ensuring we stick with the under 2.5 goals bracket – and that does reflect our opinion that this may not be the most thrilling encounter the UEL has ever seen.
Verdict: Back the away win at odds of 11/8 and the under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 1/1 (All odds are taken from bet365).[geosnippet id=3620]
If you want to bet on Benfica vs Arsenal then head on over to the betting page. Alternatively, you can check out some of the other available fixtures on the soccer predictions page as this season’s Europa League drama returns.