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Women's Champions League preview: Häcken vs Benfica

Häcken look to build on last week's win in Portugal while Benfica know defeat could end their hopes.

Häcken edged to victory last week
Häcken edged to victory last week Getty Images

Häcken hope to record successive Group D victories against a Benfica side still seeking their first group stage goal.

• The Swedish outfit, guided by Robert Vilahamn following the departure of Mats Gren on 22 October, won 1-0 in Lisbon on Matchday 3 courtesy of Elin Rubensson's late spot kick after Stine Larsen had been fouled. The victory moved the 2020 Damallsvenskan champions to within a point of second-placed Bayern.

• Benfica's best opportunity to open their goalscoring account on Matchday 3 fell to Francisca Nazareth, whose 56th-minute shot crashed against the post.

• Häcken – who finished second to Rosengård in their 2021 domestic season, with their league campaign wrapped up on 6 November – attempted the most tackles across the opening three matchdays with 46.

• Benfica, whose solitary point came in the goalless draw against Bayern on Matchday 1, are one of four teams still in search of their first victory in the group stage.

• Benfica will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Bayern avoid defeat.

Ones to watch: Häcken

Stina Blackstenius
• The 25-year-old striker scored her third league hat-trick of the term in the 4-0 home victory against Djurgården on 31 October, taking her Damallsvenskan tally to 17 for the season. She finished as the division's top scorer, three goals clear of her nearest rival.

• Blackstenius, who scored nine more league goals this term than she managed in the whole of the 2020 season, has had seven attempts across the opening three UEFA Women's Champions League matchdays, the most in the Häcken squad.

• The forward began her top-flight career with Linköpings, lifting the Damallsvenskan in 2016 along with two Svenska Cupens having joined from lower-league Vadstena GIF in 2013.

• The Swedish international spent two years in France with Montpellier (2017–19), finishing as runners-up in Division 1 Féminine behind Lyon in her first campaign. She returned to Linköpings for a second spell in 2019 before joining Häcken in 2020.

Elin Rubensson
• The 28-year-old scored the Getingarna's first group goal, her 76th-minute penalty in the Matchday 3 win against Benfica in Lisbon helping her claim the Player of the Match award.

• The midfielder has started all five of Häcken's matches in the competition so far this season, playing every minute of the three group games.

• Rubensson joined Häcken in December 2014 from first club Rosengård, where she won four league titles.

• The Swedish international reached the last eight of this competition in successive seasons with Malmö in 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd
• A midfielder who can also play at wing-back, she scored Häcken's final goal in qualifying ahead of this inaugural group stage, in the 3-2 second-leg win at home to Vålerenga in Round 2 qualifying on 8 September.

• The 24-year-old is one of two Häcken players to have had more than one attempt on target so far in this group stage, along with Rubensson.

• Aged just 17, Rytting Kaneryd was an unused substitute for first club Tyresö in their 4-3 UEFA Women's Champions League final defeat against Wolfsburg in Lisbon in May 2014.

• Capped at various youth levels by Sweden, she made her senior international debut earlier this year.

Ones to watch: Benfica

Cloé Lacasse
• The 28-year-old has been Benfica's most likely goal threat so far, having three of her side's 11 attempts on target.

• The forward's hat-trick against Dutch champions Twente in qualifying ensured the Eagles would be the first Portuguese representatives to make the last 16 of this competition.

• Lacasse's 16 strikes last term were integral to Benfica's maiden Campeonato Nacional Feminino triumph; her tally included a four-goal haul in the 7-0 defeat of Torreense on 17 January.

• In 2019 the Canadian-born striker was granted Icelandic citizenship after spending four years playing in the country.

• The 27-year-old has made 21 saves in this season's group stage; only Breidablik's Telma Ívarsdóttir (22) and HB Køge's Kaylan Marckese (23) have made more.

• The goalkeeper was integral to thwarting last season's semi-finalists Bayern in the Matchday 1 goalless draw.

• Letícia conceded just four goals in her 12 league appearances last term to help Benfica clinch their first Campeonato Nacional Feminino title.

• The Brazilian international joined As Águias in January 2021 from Corinthians, with whom she scooped two Copa Libertadores Femenina titles, including two spot-kick saves in the penalty shoot-out victory against Colo-Colo in the 2017 edition.

Francisca Nazareth
• The forward – who turns 19 on 17 November, the day of the game – came closest to scoring the Eagles' first group goal on Matchday 3 when her shot hit the woodwork.

• Nazareth scored three times in this season's qualifying campaign, including twice in the 7-0 Round 1 final success against Racing on 21 August.

• The Lisbon-born striker, known as Kika, made her debut at the age of 16 and signed her first professional contract with the club in October 2020.

• The Portuguese international, who played under current head coach Filipa Patão in Benfica's youth set-up, was first capped by her country early in 2020.

Key stats

• Häcken have lost only one of their last 11 home matches in all competitions (W8 D2).

• The Swedish team have kept four clean sheets in their last six matches.

• Benfica are joined by Servette (Group A), and WFC Kharkiv, Breidablik (both B) in still searching for their first group goal.