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Benfica seek winning finale in Schalke showdown

SL Benfica have missed out on the knockout rounds again but still have a UEFA Europa League place to play for and need three points against Group B leaders FC Schalke 04 to make sure.

Benfica seek winning finale in Schalke showdown
Benfica seek winning finale in Schalke showdown ©UEFA.com

SL Benfica's hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stages for the first time since 2005/06 were ended on Matchday 5 but they still have a UEFA Europa League place to play for. Their final visitors, FC Schalke 04, are already assured of progress and will win the section should they prevail in Lisbon.

• Benfica lost 3-0 at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC last time out and now lead the Israeli side by only two points in the race for third place. With Hapoel holding the advantage in terms of the teams' head-to-head record, Benfica must beat Schalke to make sure of holding off the Israeli champions' challenge. The Eagles will be assured of third position, though, should Hapoel fail to win at Olympique Lyonnais.

• Section leaders Schalke are a point clear of second-placed Lyon and will finish first if they match or better the French side's Matchday 6 result.

Previous meetings
• The 28 September fixture was deadlocked for 73 minutes before Jefferson Farfán shot the German side ahead at the Arena AufSchalke. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sealed the points late on.

• Benfica have played 33 competitive games against Bundesliga opposition (W8 D12 L13). They have lost only one of 15 home fixtures, FC Bayern München running out 3-1 winners in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup third round for a 7-2 aggregate success.

• The Portuguese club have won their last three home games against German visitors, overcoming Hertha BSC Berlin 4-0 in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32 for a 5-1 aggregate score. Óscar Cardozo scored twice and Pablo Aimar and Javi García once each.

• Schalke's previous encounters with Portuguese opponents in UEFA competition had all been knockout ties and they emerged as aggregate winners on all three occasions. The last such meeting came in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League last 16 against FC Porto, when both legs ended 1-0 in favour of the home side. Schalke went through 4-1 on penalties at the end of the second leg in Portugal.

Match background
• Benfica got their campaign off to a successful start with a 2-0 defeat of Hapoel. The Matchday 2 defeat in Gelsenkirchen was followed by another 2-0 away loss at Lyon and, although Benfica raced into a 4-0 win against the same opponents on 2 November and held off the French side's fightback to win 4-3, their hopes of a top-two finish were ended by defeat at Hapoel last time out.

• The home win against Benfica helped Schalke bounce back from their opening defeat in Lyon and three weeks later Raúl González scored his first two goals in the competition for his new club as Schalke saw off Hapoel 3-1. The return game in Israel two weeks later finished goalless before Schalke secured a last-16 berth for the first time since 2007/08, and climbed to the top of the standings, with a 3-0 win against Lyon.

Team ties
• Christoph Metzelder, Raúl and Huntelaar were team-mates of Javi García at Real Madrid CF in 2008/09.

• Javier Saviola was also at Madrid between 2007 and 2009.

• Aimar was in the Valencia team that lost on penalties to Bayern in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League final.

• Hans Sarpei played for Ghana in this year's FIFA World Cup quarter-final against a Uruguay side featuring Maxi Pereira. The Johannesburg game ended 1-1 after extra time, the South Americans prevailing 4-2 on penalties. Pereira was the only one of Uruguay's five penalty takers to miss.

• Nuno Gomes scored for Portugal in a 3-1 defeat by a Germany side including Metzelder in the 2006 World Cup match for third place. Gomes also scored in the 3-2 loss to the same opponents in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals when once again Metzelder was in the opposition ranks.

• Peer Kluge was in the 1. FC Nürnberg team beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Benfica in the 2007/08 UEFA Europa League round of 32. Luisão, David Luiz and Cardozo all appeared for the Portuguese side.

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