PSV Eindhoven coach Fred Rutten is looking forward to an open tie against SL Benfica after the two sides were drawn together in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
Rutten's charges claimed a 1-0 victory at Rangers FC to earn their place in the last eight and the Eredivisie outfit will now be hoping for a repeat of their 1988 European Champion Clubs' Cup showpiece triumph against Benfica, with either SC Braga or FC Dynamo Kyiv awaiting in the semi-finals. "This is a beautiful tie," said Rutten. "Benfica are a historic club, just like Rangers."
PSV won that 1988 final on penalties after a 0-0 draw and, although Rutten would not be surprised by another close affair, he expects goals to be scored. "When you're in the last eight, you can't say the differences between the teams will be huge," he explained. "I think we'll look at each other with huge respect, but not with feelings of fear.
I've seen their recent results and something positive I noticed is that they always concede goals. That means you can play football against them.
"Something else I noticed in the Champions League match between Schalke and Benfica I saw is that they're a team with very few Portuguese players," he added. "They've got a lot of Argentinians and Brazilians, in particular." Having formed an initial impression of the first-leg hosts – with their two meetings scheduled for 7 and 14 April – the former FC Schalke 04 coach will now attend the Portuguese champions' Liga match at FC Paços de Ferreira on Monday to take an even closer look.
Thoughts of revenge for 1988 will be far from Benfica minds, meanwhile, with club director Lourenço Coelho adamant that the Eagles are entirely focused on clinching a berth in the last four. "Revenge will only mean something if Benfica can reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals," he said. "Our ambition is to play in the semi-finals, which hasn't happened for many years."
Owing their spot to a 3-2 aggregate success against Paris Saint-Germain FC in the round of 16, the Lisbon side last graced the semi-finals of a UEFA club competition when they lost to Parma FC in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1993/94. Coelho nonetheless feels they can draw strength from their recent pedigree in Europe. "Benfica are the only team in last year's quarter-finals that can still reach the semis," he added.
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