UCL: Haller leads Ajax attack against Benfica

Prolific Sebastien Haller leads Ajax’s attack against Benfica in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie in Lisbon on Wednesday.

The Ivory Coast striker scored 10 times in the group stage, becoming the second player to find the net in all six group games of a Champions League campaign after Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017.

He netted four times on his last visit to the Portuguese capital, when Ajax beat Sporting 5-1 in September.

Haller will be flanked by Brazil international Antony and captain Dusan Tadic as the Dutch giants seek to bring home a positive result in Amsterdam for the return leg next month.

Benfica have their own prolific marksman in Uruguayan Darwin Nunez, who has scored 23 times in total this season, including a brace in a 3-0 demolition of Barcelona in September.

The Portuguese club qualified from their group at the expense of Barcelona but coach Jorge Jesus was sacked at the end of December, with Nelson Verissimo replacing him.

He brings a change to the Benfica side which drew 2-2 with Boavista in the league at the weekend, with Brazilian right-back Gilberto replacing Valentino Lazaro.

Belgian central defender Jan Vertonghen started his career at Ajax before leaving for Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 and then joining Benfica in 2020.

Starting composition:

Benfica (4-4-2)

Odisseas Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Nicolas Otamendi (captain), Jan Vertonghen, Alex Grimaldo; Rafa Silva, Julian Weigl, Adel Taarabt, Everton; Gonçalo Ramos, Darwin Nunez

Coach: Nelson Verissimo (POR)

Ajax (4-3-3)

Remko Pasveer; Noussair Mazraoui, Jurrien Timber, Lisandro Martinez, Daley Blind; Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis, Ryan Gravenberch; Antony, Sebastien Haller, Dusan Tadic (captain)

Coach: Erik ten Hag (NED)

Referee: Slavko Vincic (SLO)

AFP