The countdown to (hopefully) holding the trophy can start: eight games, or better, eight finals left to play. If we call them finals, it is because we have the obligation to win them all, and win them well. As it stands, we only depend on ourselves to achieve our objective of Bicampeonato. This is something we have been waiting for over 30 years, something I and many of you who are reading this have never witnessed… It is up to us to re-write the history of modern Portuguese football and re-establish the just dominance of a club which mistica is greater than any other.
The 23rd of March saw us drop points in a very disappointing visit to Vila do Conde. An early goal gave the team a false sense of security, and from then the descent to hell we all know. Reduced to 10, incapable of creating dangerous actions, numbed by a Rio Ave hungry for the three points… This should and cannot happen again.
Samaris – responsible for the penalty we suffered- , with an unimpressive 11 yellow cards in 21 games needs to avoid the senseless fouls and technical mistakes he too often indulges into. Aggressive tackler, with a good successful passing rate, he possesses all the qualities required to provide that pivotal support to both the defence and the offensive midfield. Here is a player I wasn’t convinced on, but who has clearly shown improvement and who I believe will become a central piece in the team. The 6 is his natural position, as already seen from his years in Olimpiakos, and the adaptation time can be put down to the fact he has had to join a team in full restructuration. Let’s not forget Matic and the criticism he first faced – and Matic had Javi as a reference point on the field. Then came Fejsa, pure number 6, who had Matic to help him ease into the starting 11.
Benfica is playing today mid-table Nacional at the Luz. In order to reinforce our chances of winning the title, we need to produce goals. Indeed, the goal average could prove crucial in case of a mishap against Porto in a few weeks. The statistics are favourable: in the last eight head-to-heads, we won 7 and drew 1 game againt the Madeirenses. Expecting around 50000 people, there is no excuse for a poor performance today.
Luisao will be out (red carded against Rio Ave), and I hope to see Lisandro Lopez pairing with Jardel. With Gaitan back however, we should witness a much better circulation of the ball in the last third than what we saw last jornada. JJ will be lining up a strong side, with great offensive abilities. Nacional will most likely play the defensive-counter attack game and if Eliseu is in good form, it will only be a question of time to pierce through their defensive line once to make the goals rain.
Nacional is a team which can still pretend to a spot in the Europa League, and as such, will play a very tactical game. It won’t be pretty but it could be deadly effective if we don’t ensure a flawless performance of the back 4. They will “park the bus” as seen against porto and let us create all the danger. We can expect a high percentage of ball possession but this is not going to get us the win!
What I don’t want to see:
- Salvio dribbling and passing 3 players to cross in an empty box
- Eliseu regularly taking on an offensive role and putting Jardel in the difficult predicament to defend both positions
- Lima shooting off target all the time
Probable Benfica starting 11: http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=6vx3j