30.04.2014 15:47 - in: Europa League S

    The Eagles on the road in Europe

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    While Jorge Jesus’ men struggled away from home in the Champions League group stage, they have fared much better in the Europa League, winning all three of their away fixtures

    European away trips were not easy going initially this season for Juve’s opponents Benfica, who recorded a victory and two defeats in the Champions League group stage where they began their 2013/14 campaign.

    It was a baptism of fire against PSG in their first away outing. Jorge Jesus’ men lost 3-0 in France, and the side who would go on to top the group had already netted all three in the first half hour thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace and Marquinhos’s goal.

    Neither was their second away fixture in Greece a positive one, though this time it was a less heavy 1-0 defeat against Olympiakos.

    But it was in fact those three points lost that put Jesus’ men out of the competition despite a 3-2 win over Anderlecht in their final away game, with goals coming courtesy of Nemanja Matic and Rodrigo and an intervening own goal from Chancel Mbemba.

    In the Europa League, things have gone a lot smoother for Juve’s semi-final rivals on the road, a run that began with revenge of sorts over another Greek side: PAOK.

    It was Lima, the match winner against Juventus last week, who lifted the visitors to victory in a first leg which lacked excitement but did show Benfica’s ability to close out a game.

    They demonstrated it again against Tottenham, conquering White Hart Lane thanks to Rodrigo and a Luisao double in a game of exceptional shot precision from Benfica: eight of their nine shots hit the target on 13 March.

    The first leg was played away from Portugal in the quarter-finals, too, and once again Benfica managed to pick up a victory that greatly increased their chances of qualification.

    The source of the winner in Holland against AZ Alkmaar was Eduardo Salvio, whose quick reactions saw him make it to a parry from goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado first and slot home.

    Overall, then, the Bianconeri’s semi-final opponents have won four and lost two on their travels in Europe this season ahead of running out at Juventus Stadium tomorrow, and are the only side still unbeaten in the Europa League overall.

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