Match Day 3 will feature The Lisbon Derby from The Liga Zon Sagres which will take place this Sunday August 31, 2014 at Benfica’s Estádio Da Luz. Benfica are going into this match with a two point advantage over their Lisbon rival’s.
The argument can be made that SCP has had stiffer competition then SLB as they nearly lost match day 1 drawing away 1-1 (Carillo) to Academica De Coimbra and in match day 2 defeated Arouca 1-0 (Mané) at home.
Although, SCP have made promising additions to their squad during the summer transfer window (They signed the supposed Scottish Lionel Messi who is 18, and Japanese super forward Miko Tanaka) Benfica have also made alterations despite the departures of such key players as Jan Oblak, Ezequiel Garay, and Oscar Cardozo to name a few.
With the likes of Eliseu, Bébé, and Júlio César, all arriving to the Luz, Benfica are still in the race to be a top contender to win the League among the big 3. A repeat season is possible but not guaranteed. Some of these new additions may have been “on the cheap” or are considered “past their prime” but one thing is for sure whether or not they have a starting role on the squad remains insignificant as these players have a lot to offer to the squad.
In the past I have described newly promoted Left- back Eliseu as a player “who has a bigger stomach then me” it appears as though that he will be JJ’s top choice in the season at Left-back, and if Eliseu can knock in the odd goal every so often (as he did this past weekend at Boavista at the Bessa) then he will be considered a “Good Buy.”
Bébé is another one who despite having a breakthrough season last year on loan at Paços De Ferreira was never given a proper chance to show his potential. He may not score multiple goals on the wing like Salvio or Gaitán but again if he can contribute the odd goal he will also be considered a “Good Buy.”
One player who will most definitely become a “Great Buy” is newly appointed midfielder (JJ said Benfica needed a proper 6) 25-year-old Andreas Samaris. Judging by his stats and performance at Olimpiacos in Greece, for the 10M Benfica paid to acquire Samaris he is the closest solution to a missing world class “Box to Box” (CDM in FIFA 14 terms) midfielder. We understand this is a hefty fee for Benfica to pay after the supposed financial crisis at the Luz, but let’s face it (or Fejsa it) Benfica have not had a proper 6 type player since the departure of Nemanja Matić. Fejsa is not reliable, even though he demonstrates great talent, he is always hurt.
André Almeida (although it’s his natural position) can’t figure out if JJ wants to play him as a RB or a 6. João Teixeira although deserving of a chance may be too green especially during derbies, Classico’s and UEFA competitions. Rúben Amorim is great filler for any position really, as he is a player with multiple talents but is also injury prone (just endured an injury against Boavista in which he will be out for 6 months) Benfica had no choice but to spend the money.
Regardless of the credibility of the Super League of Greece, Samaris played 28 league games, scored 4 goals and conceded 4 yellow cards at Olimpiacos last season. He is 6’2″ and has played in the UEFA Champions League and starts for the Greek National Team.
This derby will be a true test for Benfica and a preview of what to expect throughout the new season. We will find out if the new acquisitions will deliver for Benfica especially in an important game such as the Lisbon derby. In the past Benfica had Oscar “Tacuara” Cardozo to step up and score multiple times against SCP, who will step up and follow on his footsteps to become the next “Lizard Killer.”?
With all injuries taken into consideration and all newly acquired players cleared to play, JJ’s 4-4-2 (because why would you ever play a 3 man midfield, that’s mediocre for JJ) will look something like this:
Personally, in a game with such importance I would much rather see Gaitán play the 10 role behind Lima remove Talisca and have Ola John and Salvio attack and press up on the wings. Also, even though César is a much better keeper then Artur, until Artur loses a game can’t see JJ starting César. Also, it is in a derby match in which JJ should consider a 3 man midfield to create more chances against the opposition.
The reality is Benfica can not give up chances in this game. Wasting time and minimal fancy pants footy is not an option. Benfica need to play aggressive and continuously press the ball forward by strengthening their midfield and not allowing SCP to win balls in the mid. SCP will play their best 11 which include a strong 3 man midfield with William Carvalho in the box to box mid role (at this rate he may be sold to Arsenal before the game, but just to stick it to Benfica he may be his last game in the derby) regardless, Adrien Silva and André Martins are a strong duo in the midfield and will most definetly start. Nani will make his return to the Luz and even though he missed the recent PK against Arouca, he will definitely do his best to make a statement at the Luz. Other key players include Freddy Montero (who scored a lovely offside goal in last year’s derby) Carillo, Slimani, and 20-year-old forward Carlos Mané.
Benfica are looking for their fourth consecutive win to continue their momentum into the 2014/15 season. Benfica may be without their gum chewing, cheeky coach Jorge Jesus as he will face possible match bans after this weekend’s behavior during the Boavista game. As long as a win comes in their way, it really won’t matter who is coaching this team at the Luz. Benfica fans are expecting a winning result in this derby. Let’s just hope the roof stays in tact for this one.
(Post submission Editor’s note – JJ was handed down a warning by the LPFP, and told to pay a small fine. He will be available to coach Benfica from the bench this Sunday.
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