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Astana set out to defend fortress from Benfica

"Our stadium is our home and our castle," said Stanimir Stoilov, with Astana eager to keep afloat in Group C with a home victory against a bruised Benfica side.

Stanimir Stoilov hopes to make home advantage count against Benfica
Stanimir Stoilov hopes to make home advantage count against Benfica ©AFP/Getty Images
  • Benfica are through with a win, or a draw provided Galatasaray do not beat Atlético
  • Stanimir Stoilov hopes home advantage can help Astana avenge 2-0 loss in September
  • Rui Vitória has faith in his injury-ravaged Benfica side
  • Astana defeated in Kazakh Cup final at the weekend
  • Benfica have lost three of last six matches in all competitions

Possible lineups
Erić; Anićić, Ilić, Postnikov, Shomko; Twumasi, Maksimović, Zhukov, Cañas, Kethevoama; Kabananga.
Out: Dzholchiyev (suspended)
Doubtful: Cañas (unspecified)

Benfica: Júlio César; Sílvio, Jardel, Lisandro López, Eliseu; André Almeida, Samaris, Gonçalo Guedes, Carcela-González; Jiménez, Jonas.
Out: Salvio (knee), Luisão (broken arm), Nélson Semedo (knee), Fejsa (foot), Lindelof (ankle), Gaitán (suspended)

Matchday one highlights: Benfica 2-0 Astana

Stanimir Stoilov, Astana coach
I'm expecting great support from our fans, because together with them we have an even better chance of winning. Our stadium is our home and our castle, and we should always look for victory here, even against the best teams in Europe. After their derby loss against Sporting, Benfica have been backed into a corner and they will be doubly motivated. It's too early to speak about qualifying for the next stage.

Rui Vitória, Benfica coach
There is no need for extra motivation; we can go through to the next stage if we win here, but it will be a difficult game for us. Astana were really disciplined in our first match, but I think [our 2-0 win] was a fair result. The team and the fans put in great performances at home against Galatasaray and Atlético. Despite having injured players, I have faith in my team.

Weekend results
Astana 1-2 Kairat Almaty (Twumasi 29; Despotović 48 69)
Astana were denied a domestic double by the side they pipped to the league title a fortnight ago, holders Kairat recovering from Patrick Twumasi's opener to win the Kazakh Cup final for the seventh time.

Sporting CP 2-1 Benfica (Adrien Silva 45, Slimani 112; Mitroglou 6)
Islam Slimani's extra-time goal sent Sporting into the last 16 of the Portuguese Cup and ended Benfica's hopes. The visitors had Andreas Samaris sent off two minutes after Slimani's intervention.

The best of matchdays three and four

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Astana: LWDWWW
Benfica: LWWWLL

Reporter's view: Denis Novitsky (@UEFAcomDenisN)
Both teams will want to bounce back from cup losses at the weekend. Astana need a victory to keep alive their hopes of qualifying, with both the points they have picked up so far having come courtesy of home draws – against Galatasaray and Atlético Madrid. Benfica will not be taking them lightly but can expect to dominate possession.

Did you know?
Astana have drawn both their home games in Group C and won all three of their home qualifiers; our match background has more.

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