At first glance, this match may get lost in this week’s slate of marquee match-ups. But, with Dortmund struggling for consistency and headed away to Lisbon, this could be a tighter fixture than you might initially expect.
However, they were high-flying in the Champions League group stage; finishing first in their group without defeat, drawing 2-2 with Real Madrid twice, and scoring the most goals ever in the group stage along the way. Meanwhile, Benfica barely squeaked out of an evenly-matched, but not overwhelmingly tough group featuring Napoli, Besiktas, and Dynamo Kyiv. But, there’s precedent to them playing up to the level of the knockout rounds - last year, they made it to the quarterfinals against Bayern Munich, losing only 3-2 on aggregate.
The Primeira League leaders will be missing last year's top scorer, Brazilian striker Jonas, who also missed the group stage through injury. That means the goal scoring burden will once again fall on Kostas Mitroglou and Raúl Jiménez, who have scored 23 between them.
Dortmund will be considered favorites, but their unpredictable form make their trip to Portugal far from certain.
Benfica won their second straight Primeira Liga title last season, with a +66 goal difference along the way. Meanwhile in the Champions League, they had a notable win against eventual runners-up Atletico Madrid and managed a draw against Bayern in the quarter-finals, eventually losing 2-3 on aggregate. In the offseason, as Europe’s biggest clubs did their annual summer prowl of Portugal, Argentine winger Nicolas Gaitan and the Euros’ Young Player of the Tournament Renato Sanches departed. Without major reinforcements (other than some of the best looking kits in the world this season), they’ll rely on Jonas, who has scored 52 goals in 61 appearances for Benfica.
Thomas Tuchel had Dortmund firing last season - nearly any other year, their 78 points would have been enough to win the title. But, as always, there’s Bayern. While their captain, Mats Hummels, has exited alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan (to opposite sides of Manchester), Dortmund have brought in capable replacements in Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle while also keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With master tinkerer Thomas Tuchel now settled as he takes on his second season at Signal Iduna Park, there will be few teams confident in overpowering or outsmarting Dortmund.
Averages nearly a goal a game for Benfica, but has only appeared 12 times for Brazil.
Has been selected for three straight Brazilian World Cup squads.
Dortmund somehow managed to keep hold of the electric forward who scored 39 goals last season.
The Greek defender will be even more crucial to Dortmund's season after captain Mats Hummels departure. His last name, Papastathopoulos, is too long to print, so his jersey simply reads, "Sokratis."