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Jan 21, 2022 at 7pm UK

Adilio (46'), Moreira (56'), Quaresma (90+1'), Ba (90+3'), Kouassi (90+5')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Nunez (32' pen.), Ramos (90+2')
Grimaldo (43')

Preview: Arouca vs. Benfica - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Arouca vs. Benfica - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's Primeira Liga clash between Arouca and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two sides at contrasting ends of the Portuguese Primeira Liga standings square off on Friday when Arouca welcome Benfica to the Estadio Municipal de Arouca.

The Arouquenses are currently bottom but one on the log, while the visitors are third, only behind title-chasing Porto and reigning champions Sporting Lisbon.

Match preview

Arouca failed to pull clear of the relegation places as they fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Belenenses at the Estadio do Restelo two Sundays ago.

In a heated clash between the bottom two sides in the table, Oday Dabbagh opened the scoring in the 37th minute to hand the visitors a first-half advantage, but O Belem upped the ante after the interval as Nilton Varela restored parity in the 73rd minute before Abel Camara completed the comeback with the last significant touch of the game.

Arouca have now failed to taste victory in any of their last five games, losing four and claiming one draw since beating Boavista 2-1 when the sides squared off back in November.

This poor run of results has been owing to their recent woes at the defensive end of the pitch, as they have shipped 15 goals in their last five games, while scoring just four at the opposite end of the pitch.

With 14 points from 17 games, the Arouquenses are currently 17th in the Primeira Liga standings, three points ahead of rock bottom Belenenses, albeit with one game in hand.

On the other hand, Benfica continue to struggle for consistency as they were held to a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw by Moreirense last time out.

Despite seeing over 70% of the ball possession and controlling proceedings for most of the game, As Aguias failed to convert several clear-cut chances as Gilberto scored a 65th-minute own goal to hand Moreirense the lead before Darwin Nunez levelled matters four minutes later.

Benfica have now managed just one win from their last four games across all competitions, picking up one draw and losing two, including a 3-0 loss to Porto on December 23 which saw their Taca de Portugal campaign come to an end.

Nelson Verissimo's side have won 13, drawn two and lost three of their 18 Primeira Liga games this season to collect 41 points and sit third on the log, 19 points off league leaders Porto and six behind second-place Sporting Lisbon.

However, Benfica will feel confident of bouncing back to winning ways like all good sides do as Friday's game sees them go up against an opposing side who they have defeated in each of the last five meetings between the teams since 2015.

Arouca Primeira Liga form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Benfica Primeira Liga form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Benfica form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D

Team News

Arouca head into the game with a few COVID-19 cases in their camp as the duo of Matias Campi and Or Dasa recently tested positive for the virus.

On the injury front, Moses Yaw and Brazilian goalkeeper Fernando Augusto are currently on the club's injury table through muscle injuries, while defender Jose Manuel Velazquez has been out of action since September due to a severe knee problem.

Marco Soares is another notable absentee from the Arouquenses squad as the midfielder is currently representing Cape Verde at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, while Andre Silva is suspended having received his marching orders against Belenenses last time out.

Benfica, meanwhile, will have to make do with the absence of Serbian midfielder Nemanja Radonjic, who has been out of action since sustaining a back injury in November's Taca de Portugal game against Pacos de Ferreira.

The Brazilian duo of Lucas Verissimo and Rodrigo Pinho are also out of contention for As Aguias as they continue their spells on the sidelines through knee and muscle injuries respectively.

After serving his suspension for picking up a red card against Porto, Andre Almeida was an unused substitute against Moreirense last time out and we expect the veteran defender to return to the XI on Friday.

Arouca possible starting lineup:
Braga; Thales, Basso, Ba, Quaresma; Eboue; Silva, Moreira, Bukia, Nunes; Dabbagh

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Almeida, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Gilberto, Weigl, Mario, Silva; Nunez, Goncalves

We say: Arouca 0-2 Benfica

Arouca's slump in form has seen them drop into the relegation places and they will head into Friday's game seeking that morale-boosting win to spark a fine run of form. However, next up is the stern test of going up against a Benfica side who they have lost to in each of their last five encounters. Looking at the gulf in quality between the squads, we are tipping As Aguias to come away with all three points and extend their winning streak.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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