Quick analysis of Benfica

Posted: March 16, 2012 in World of Football


The Portuguese giants have in their museum of trophies 2 European Champions Clubs’ Cup and 5 runners-up medals. A true continental historical. The problem is this Giant is asleep for so long that his achivements have fallen into oblivion. 22 years have passed since their last appearance in a final and 50 since the last time they managed to lift the cup.

Jorge Jesus is the man who tries to return the club to the glories of the past. A very offensive minded coach, who leads the team with an iron fist demanding hard work, determination and total dedication to his players. This is his trademark. The way he screams, gesticulates, leaps during the games, even if the team is winning 4-0, is in itself a performance worth beeing seen.

His strategy has evolved over the years, adapting the team to the entrance and exit of players and the requirements of the different competitions. At this point they’re playing like this:


A 4-2-3-1 based on an effective pressure and continued attacking. Javi Garcia is the equilibrium point in a midfield full of offensive-minded players. Jorge Jesus wants his team starting the plays from the back based in short, line breaking passes. In the game construction process Javi backs to the center of defense and the full backs go up in the pitch to give width to the team. Witsel and Aimar are in charge to pick up the ball near the central circle and organize the attacking move.

Strengths: The team’s attacking process. A great set of creative players, with unpredictable moves and high quality passing ability. When able to get the ball circulating in the opponent’s half they’ll create several goal scoring chances. The secret to stop this team is to nullify the creators of the game, Witsel and Aimar.

Weaknesses: Despite having a good goalkeeper and a pair of good central defenders, the team as a block doesn’t defend well. The defensive routines aren’t always optimal and the team is permeable especially if the wings are well exploited. Emerson, the left full back, is an average player, Maxi Pereira is very offensive-minded so he’s often caught out of position, and the side midfielders doesn’t occupy effectively the space sometimes. Doesn’t seem a team capable to face a game with a counter-attack strategy and this can be a problem when facing stronger opponents.

The stars

Artur. An excellent keeper. Was one of the figures of that magnificent Braga who reached the Europa League final last year.

Maxi Pereira. A player with a fantastic willingness, a real gladiator. Never give up a ball and is the first to press when the team loses it. One of the most loved players by fans.

Luisão and Garay: A very strong double in positional play and aerial ability. However slow. Leadership, experience and quality. They are very similar, so little complementary. Garay has quality with the ball.

Emerson: The black sheep, the ugly duckling, the rotten apple. These are the nicknames chosen for him by the fans. The coach says he plays because it is strong defending. In my opinion, neither defending nor attacking. His replacement is Capdevila, a 34 years old overweight World Champion.

Javi García: The pendulum of the team. Always reading the game superbly and tactically perfect. He is the primary responsible for halting the opponent attacks and keep the team defensively balanced. A wall in front of the central defenders. The cornerstone of this team that remained unbeaten until February. When he got injured the team started losing games. Sometimes exceeds in the aggressiveness.

Axel Witsel: The most complete player of this squad. Strong physically and mentally, remarkable technical quality and vision of the game. Flawless in the tactical plan. In recent days were ventilated in the Portuguese press reports about a potential interest from Real Madrid.

Nico Gaitán: The fantasist, a delicious left foot. He started the season in style, then the press started talking too much of his departure and thereafter the quality of his game decreased. Need to achieve a greater physical dimension in order to better cope the final minutes of games.

Aimar: El Mago needs no introduction. His job is to break down defenses and does it very well. His 33 years old are starting to pass bill but he’s still able to perform 60/70 minutes at the highest level. He plays and makes the whole team play.

Bruno César: He’s positioned near the line but has a huge tendency to come inside looking for combinations with teammates. A very rotational player with a strong left foot. Attention to his long range. His nickname is Chuta-Chuta, Kick-Kick translated to English. Recently debuted with the Brazilian National jersey.

Cardozo: The Paraguayan killer doesn’t need to run much to make goals. Always in the right place. His left foot is a precision weapon. Against him has the low quickness and little mobility. Despite being the top foreigner scorer in club history he has a love-hate relationship with fans  because seems ungracious sometimes.

The Prospects:


Rodrigo and Nélson Oliveira: The first is a Brazilian raised in the Spanish school, great combination for a footballer, he’s extremely determined and possesses fantastic conditions to play football. At 21 he’s a scoring machine. The second was nicknamed the Portuguese Cantona in the last under 20 World Cup. Suits him very well. In this season he has debuted in the league, scored his first goal in Champions League and has made his first appearence with the Portuguese National team. These two are certainly in the worldwide list of promising young forwards.


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