Five Benfica players Tottenham should be ready for in the Europa League

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Tottenham Hotspur will face Benfica in the next round of the Europa League, but who should they be wary of?

Here we take a look at five players Tottenham must pay close attention to.

Oscar Cardozo

Paraguay striker Cardozo began the season in fine form, and netted in five consecutive league games before a back problem put him out of action for the next two months. Prior to that injury he had also scored a majestic hat-trick in the Portuguese Cup against Sporting Lisbon – including an absolute world-class finish.

Since his return he has slowly been reintegrated into the side and started the second-leg against PAOK.

He may have seen a fine campaign halted by injury, but his talent is such that Tottenham simply cannot ignore him for a second that he is on the pitch.

Danger for Tottenham: Cardozo can score from practically anywhere.

Nicolas Gaitan

The Argentine was once a regular in the gossip columns, with Tottenham themselves previously linked with his signing. But while the rumours have since died down, he should not be ignored.

Gaitan scored the first in that 3-0 victory in Benfica’s last outing in Europe. And while he is not enjoying the best of seasons by any means, he appears to be playing his way back into goal-scoring form having also netted in the vital win over Sporting Lisbon.

If he paid attention to the rumours linking him with a switch to the Premier League, he is likely to want to perform against one of the very clubs once said to be interested.

Danger for Tottenham: As his strike in the last round proved, he is not averse to scoring belters.

Lazar Markovic

There have been and will continue to be numerous ‘next big things’ in football, but while that phrase is often misused, in the case of Lazar Markovic it fits perfectly.

The 19-year-old winger moved to Benfica from Partizan Belgrade last summer, and he is already proving why Chelsea are reportedly keen to secure his signature.

His performances have gone up a level in recent weeks, and he has scored in three consecutive matches including a peach of a winner in the Primeira Liga against Guimaraes and the third in the quick-fire 3-0 victory over PAOK Saloniki in the last round of the Europa League.

Danger for Tottenham: Markovic does not lack confidence or talent.  Will see this as another chance to shine.

Enzo Perez

Perez is the least likely to appear on this list, but the 27-year-old Argentine midfielder has really stepped up since the departure of Nemanja Matic and has reportedly been rewarded with a contract extension as a result.

Predominantly a central-midfielder, he has also been used on the right-wing. But if he plays against Tottenham, expect him to be in the centre. He has an eye for both a goal and an assist – setting up goals both home and away against Anderlecht in the Champions League this season.

Danger for Tottenham: If Spurs want to beat Benfica they will have to get past Perez.

Rodrigo

The former Bolton Wanders loanee has come a long way since then, and was linked with a €30million January move to Arsenal. While that failed to materialise, his economic rights were reportedly sold last month for just that figure, and he is likely to move on at the end of the current campaign, with Atletico Madrid also cited as a possible destination.

Rodrigo has 10 goals to date this season, and enjoyed a fine spell from the start of December until mid-January, when he scored six league goals in just six appearances.

Danger for Tottenham: Like Cardozo, he knows where the goal is.  And as a reported Arsenal target, well...

 

 

 

image: © Tom Brogan

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