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UEFA Youth League final preview: Salzburg vs Benfica

Salzburg hope to repeat their 2017 final win against Benfica, who on Monday go for a first title in their record-equalling fourth decider.


Salzburg take on Benfica in Monday's UEFA Youth League final at Nyon's Colovray Stadium five years on from the same clubs meeting in the 2017 decider.

That day, Marco Rose's Salzburg won 2-1 against a Benfica side containing João Félix and Rúben Dias, among others. For Benfica, it was the second of their three final defeats to date, but they now hope to put that right and join Salzburg – as well as Barcelona, Chelsea, Porto and Real Madrid – on the roll of honour as the eighth tournament edition concludes.

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The lowdown

UEFA Youth League semi-final highlights: Juventus 2-2 Benfica (3-4 pens)

Both teams lost their opening games of the group stage before topping their sections and hitting form by the quarter-final stage, when Salzburg saw off Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica won 4-0 at Sporting CP. Friday's semi-finals could not have been more different, though.

Benfica led Juventus by two early goals but had goalkeeper Samuel Soares sent off and were fortunate to hold on for a 2-2 draw, after which substitute keeper André Gomes saved twice to win the shoot-out. Salzburg then surged to a 5-0 defeat of Atlético, a record margin for a semi-final, showing the benefits of their squad playing domestic football for nursery club FC Liefering in the upper reaches of Austria's second tier.

When Salzburg won this competition in 2016/17, they also did so with a squad containing Liefering players, and they likewise knocked out Paris and Atlético on the way to the final with Benfica. As for the Eagles, they are equalling Chelsea's record of four finals but are still searching for a first title, having lost to Barcelona in the inaugural 2014 decider and Real Madrid in 2020 – the most recent final in this competition – as well as Salzburg five years ago.

Meet the teams

In a link to that previous final, João Félix's younger brother Hugo is a member of the Benfica squad. The now Atlético forward responded to his sibling's victory Instagram post on Friday with the simple message: "Avenge yourselves for 16/17."

Henrique Araújo, who has made five Benfica senior appearances in recent months, has travelled to Nyon this weekend, meaning the Eagles could have three veterans of the 2020 final available: the newly-arrived forward, his namesake captain Tomás Araújo, and one of the goalscorers against Juventus, Martim Neto, who was a late substitute against Madrid.

UEFA Youth League semi-final highlights: Atlético 0-5 Salzburg

Key stats

  • Benfica will become the first team to play 70 matches in this competition, moving one ahead of Real Madrid.
  • Benfica are equalling Chelsea's record of reaching four finals.
  • Salzburg aim to match Barcelona and Chelsea by becoming two-time champions.
  • This is the first time any of the eight finals has been a repeat of a previous decider.
  • Roko Simic's two semi-final goals for Salzburg took him to six for the season, one behind current joint leaders Aral Simsir and Mads Hansen of Midtjylland.

Final sold out

All tickets have been sold for the final at Colovray Stadium in Nyon

Views from the camps

Salzburg's 2017 glory vs Benfica

René Aufhauser, Salzburg coach: "The team made it clear in the Atlético game that we came here to win the title. The boys have internalised that and fully believe in their chance. We're going into the final with a lot of confidence now, but we know that there's a strong opponent waiting for us there. It should be an intense and exciting match."

Luís Castro, Benfica coach: "I expect another great game, against another great team. We have had several finals already because after the first game they were all finals. We had to win all those games to continue in the competition. Now it's one more."

Roko Simic, Salzburg forward: "It's not just believing I'll be the top scorer: I don't just believe, I'm going to be! I saw [Benfica's] game against Juventus. Benfica are very powerful and I only expect a difficult match."

André Gomes, Benfica goalkeeper: "We're going to the final with everything, to win and to give the first Youth League title to the club. We want our fans to be here on Monday to give us more strength."