An impressive comeback against VfB Stuttgart last week notwithstanding, SL Benfica could be forgiven some trepidation ahead of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg on Thursday. A traditional heavyweight of European club football they may be, but Benfica have never beaten a German side away from home in 18 attempts.
Holding a 2-1 advantage over Stuttgart, the Eagles do not necessarily need to break that barren spell to continue their European exploits. However, given they are without a single draw this season in all competitions – a run of 36 matches – a maiden win at a Bundesliga club may yet be required to secure a round of 16 place. Coach Jorge Jesus is certainly eyeing a long-awaited success. "The way we play does not allow us even to think about a second-leg draw," he said. "I am sure we will score in Germany."
Nevertheless, the history books do not favour Benfica, who have endured some heartache on German soil. Here are four they may not want to be reminded of – and a fifth that could provide inspiration if the going gets tough at the VfB Arena.
FC Schalke 04 2-0 Benfica, 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage
The Eagles had started this season's European campaign with a 2-0 win against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, but their bid took a turn for the worse as they went down to second-half goals from Jefferson Farfán and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on Matchday 2. Like Stuttgart, Schalke were struggling domestically at the time, but followed up their home success with victory in Lisbon in December. The good news for Benfica is they have won every game, 15 in total, in all competitions since that latter defeat.
VfB Stuttgart 3-0 Benfica, 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage
Benfica's only other visit to VfB does not hold good memories as they succumbed 3-0 in the inaugural UEFA Cup group stage. However, they qualified for the last 32 easily enough alongside Stuttgart before being knocked out by the team that would go on to pick up the trophy that year, PFC CSKA Moskva.
FC Bayern München 5-1 Benfica, 1975/76 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final
The first leg had finished goalless, but Mário Wilson's side were blown away by the eventual competition winners in the decider. There was still no score at the break in Munich, before three goals in quick succession put Bayern in command and, after António Barros got one back for the visitors, Gerd Müller struck twice to sew up the contest.
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 Benfica, 1963/64 European Cup first round
This was the only previous occasion Benfica took a 2-1 advantage to Germany in a two-legged tie. Shorn of Eusébio, the Eagles were stunned by a five-goal salvo in a 26-minute spell either side of the interval.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-4 Benfica, 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final
One of the most famous games in the club's European history in which seven of the eight goals came after half-time. Benfica had been indebted to Isaías Marques Soares's last-minute strike in the first leg in scrape a 1-1 draw before a see-saw decider where the visitors battled back from two down to lead 3-2, only for Leverkusen to turn the tables and go ahead once again with eight minutes left. Vasili Kulkov notched his second of the night, though, to take the Eagles through on away goals.
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