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Stephanie Roche picks unexpected dark horse for Champions League run


Stephanie Roche picks Champions League outside tip.

Stephanie Roche has named Benfica as her “outside tip” to go deep in the Champions League this season.

The Ireland striker was speaking to Pundit Arena at the launch of the Just Eat Hits the Spot Champions League College Roadshow, when she stated that she was impressed with the Portuguese giants while she was on RTE commentary duties for their play-off round victory over Dynamo Kyiv.

Stephanie Roche: “Benfica can go far in Champions League.”

I was really impressed by them,” Roche said. “I think they play some really good stuff. They got to the quarters last year and were beaten by Liverpool.

For me, they’re an outside tip, I don’t know if they’ll go and win it but I can see them going far, they seem to play good football. I’m excited to watch them, it was nice to see them in the early stages and watch how they play in that 4-3-3 formation, they’re really good to watch.”

Benfica’s tough group.

The Eagles have sold a number of key players this summer, including Darwin Nunez, who has gone to Liverpool for a €75 million fee, and Brazilian winger Everton, who has returned to his homeland to play with Flamengo.

However, Roche’s prediction has so far rang true, after they defeated Maccabi Haifa 2-0 in their opening group game last week.

Sterner tests await though, in the form of Juventus, who they visit on Wednesday night, and Paris Saint-Germain in what looks like one of the toughest groups to emerge from.

Man City and Real Madrid.

Away from Benfica, Roche also brought up competition favourites Manchester City, as well holders Real Madrid.

“The Champions League is what Man City are looking for,” said the 2014 Fifa Puskas Award runner-up. “They brought in Erling Haaland, he’s been excellent. He’s just a machine, isn’t he? Look at how he plays, he’s unplayable at times.

Obviously Real Madrid have been great. Karim Benzema getting injured, I don’t know how long he’s going to be out for. That could cost them.

“It’s Man City who want to go and try to and win it and the signings they have made have put them in a great position.”

Roche also spoke to Pundit Arena about her career in media, her hopes with Peamount United this season, and her dream of getting back into the Ireland squad. You can read more on all of that here.

Roche was speaking at the launch of the Just Eat Hits the Spot Champions League College Roadshow at DCU on Tuesday morning.

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