Benfica vs Zenit (1st leg) Preview

This weekend saw the perfect result for Benfica before the first game of the Champions League against Zenit on Tuesday 16th. We needed a win, and we did it in style: 0-5, an undisputable display of control over the game and offensive play against a disorientated Setubal side. The first goal was a joy to watch with Salvio netting a beautiful left footed shot from outside the box, scoring his second goal of the season. The hat trick from a Talisca on fire put an end to the team’s forwards’ barren period. And finally, JJ was rewarded for getting Ola John out of the closet, as he scored the cherry on the cake in this thrilling night. Well done boys!

The hat trick from a Talisca on fire put an end to the team’s forwards’ barren period

Thanks to the draw between Vitoria Guimaraes and Porto, we are back at the near top of the table, with four teams on 10 points. Taking into account goal average, we have:

  • Rio Ave
  • Guimaraes
  • Benfica
  • Porto

Sporting was held to a draw at the Restelo by Belenenses and currently ranks 8th with 6 points.

Next Liga game: BENFICA vs MOREIRENSE (class.9th with 5 points), Sunday 21st of September, 17:00 GMT.

Liga debuts for Samaris and Cristante

We were finally able to get a taste of what these two promising players are about. Samaris was integrated to the starting line-up and played the full 90 minutes. Very good technically, here are his numbers for the game:

Passes: 89.2% pass accuracy – 96.5% on short passes, 100% on medium range passes and 28.5% on long passes (probably an area where he needs improving).

Dribbles: 10/10 (all short)

Tackles: 5/5

Interceptions: 16/20

Aerial duels: 5 won over 7

Considering this is his first game and the quality he has displayed, I am confident our new #7 will shine as a trinco (or 8 as he can play both).

Nineteen year old Bryan Cristante made his debuts at the 73rd minute, substituting Enzo Perez. He didn’t have a lot to do during these 15 minutes on the field as the game was already killed, but did show great passing capabilities, including a long pass isolating Ola John on the left wing, which could have proven dangerous. It certainly feels like he possesses footballing intelligence and could become a key-player in our midfield.


Lima has yet to score. Even though, he has been an indisputable protagonist in this “goleada” through his play with Gaitan from what originated Talisca’s third goal and his cross to Ola John allowing the fifth goal. Various unfruitful shots, notably at the 50th, 69th and 92nd minutes. Is he going to put up a show against Zenit and offer us a winning goal?

Artur: He literally had no work that night, except on a bad call as he attempted to clear the ball a little early from an isolated Giovani who ended up scoring. The linesman wrongly raised the offside flag, avoiding the tie at the 18th minute. I know we have spoken in length about his lack of confidence rubbing off on the back line, and I can’t help hoping that Julio Cesar will be fit to play in Tuesday’s much more difficult and crucial game.


Zenit are starting this Champions League campaign ultra-confident. Led by ex Portista coach Vilas Boas, their side features ex SLB players such as Javi Garcia, Witsel and Garay,

Thanks to their impressive seven games winning streak, Zenit are starting this Champions League campaign ultra-confident. Led by ex Portista coach Vilas Boas, their side features ex SLB players such as Javi Garcia, Witsel and Garay, without forgetting Portuguese Danny and Neto as well as ex-Porto Hulk. We all know their quality as the three first aforementioned gained their technique and fame in Benfica. They know us well too and are aware of the weight of playing at the Luz. There will be over 60000 fans rooting for Benfica in an electric atmosphere. Many giants have not been able to leave Lisbon unscathed and Zenit will be no exception. This is the strongest and hardest team of the group, and I feel we have the obligation of securing these 3 precious points to give us a sense of serenity.

Here is my prediction for their line-up:

zenits line up(Click to Enlarge)


And now for Benfica (I will call it my hopefull 11):

zenitlu(Click to Enlarge)

Of course, I believe we won’t be using Lisandro Lopez and Jardel will be playing CB with Luisao. Similarly, I highly doubt new signing Jonas will start the game, and we should be seeing Talisca up front pairing Lima at the attack. We have a nicely garnished midfield and I believe JJ will be substituting Enzo for Cristante if things are going well tomorrow night. I envison this will be a very technical game, played mainly in the midfield with offensive outbursts from Hulk and Rondon for Zenit and Lima and the other guys from the midfield (who are always more than happy to take a shot whenever possible, seeing that we are lacking in the attacking department).

I feel so bad for mentioning this again, but I think Julio Cesar really needs to make his appearance. Artur is just too mediocre to be played during such an important game.

Benfica – Zenit  Tuesday 16th 19:45GMT


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Author: Laura Da Silva

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