sport

Benfica v AZ Alkmaar preview

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus knows there are no grounds for complacency despite his side taking a 1-0 lead into the Europa League quarter-final second leg against AZ Alkmaar at Estadio da Luz.

Eduardo Salvio scored the only goal as Benfica claimed a 1-0 away win over AZ at the Afas Stadium to edge closer to the last four as they bid to go one better than last season, when they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea in the Amsterdam final.

Benfica are in good form at the moment and sit top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, seven points clear of Sporting Lisbon, and have won their last nine league games.

For Jesus, his motivation is clear.

When asked at a press conference what his hopes were for this season's Europa League, he said: "To get as far as possible, as we did last year."

However, Jesus is not afraid of making changes to the side that were victorious in Holland.

He added: "When we make changes, usually between four and seven players, it is those who are more prepared.

"I work with 25 players, not 11. Given the performance of each player, I decide on the options."

In contrast to Benfica, AZ's form has been inconsistent at best.

They have won three of their last seven Eredivisie games but drew their last two fixtures against Cambuur Leeuwarden and Roda JC.

The Dutch side are currently seventh in their domestic league standings in a Europa League play-off place and are nine points adrift of fourth-placed Vitesse in the second qualifying spot.

AZ coach Dick Advocaat is confident his side can turn around the tie and make it to the semi-finals.

He said in a press conference: "If we play compact, we can make it difficult.

Benfica has great players, but perhaps they underestimate us, though.

"I expect that they will play more offensively than in Alkmaar. With our speed up front we can probably get a sneaky goal.

"In football everything is possible."

Advocaat does, however, look set to be without left back Simon Poulsen, who is struggling with groin injury.

"We will decide in the next few hours or he can play or not," Advocaat said of the Denmark international.

"This type of injury is a logical consequence of the large number of games that we have played this season. We have almost played 60 game so it is logical that there are some physical discomforts involved."