Friday 12/09 will mark the opening of the Liga’s fourth game, with Vitoria de Setubal receiving Benfica at the Bonfim at 8.30pm GMT, under the control of Joao Capela. Setubal, led by Domingos, is one of those teams capable of creating a surprise and I sure hope that JJ will go for a more logical side than he has lately. After the disappointing draw at the Luz against Sporting, we need to make sure we cash in the 3 points. The one week break imposed by the national teams games have brought some changes to the line ups we were expecting: Samaris, the 10 million worth central midfielder has been reported to have suffered an injury during Greece vs Romania (won by Romania thanks to a penalty scored during the 10th minute by Marica – and no, I didn’t make that up!), with little chance of him being fully recovered for the coming game with Benfica. On the Setubal side, it seems like this break favoured Helder Cabral back into form, whilst Venancio made an appearance for Portugal U21 and Luis Advincula for Peru.
After Artur’s terrible “frango”, which cost us 2 points against Sporting, it seems ineluctable that a change will be made in the net, with Julio Cesar finally making it to the starting 11. Or so we hope, as we never know, considering JJ’s strange fetish to start Artur every week despite a plethora of damning evidence.
With Salvio playing 10 and most likely Lima and Talisca on the front, we should be getting enough movement to break Setubal’s defensive line. THE question is: will Lima (or Talisca) finally end the trend of blank scoring card? We seem spoilt for choice in the midfield area, but terribly lacking options for our offensive line: four official games and no goals scored from our forwards! It is hard to blame Talisca for his lack of efficiency in front of the net, as he is essentially a midfielder forced to play out of position. It is worrisome that JJ didn’t deem necessary to contract a true forward to play alongside Lima (although there are rumors of the imminent signing of 30 years old Brazilian avançado Jonas from Valencia).
Looking at the 4 men back, Maxi – Luisao – Jardel – Eliseu seem to be JJ’s primary choice, although I would have liked to see Lisandro Lopez getting more minutes, since he is now fit to play. Jardel who always gives it all during games, is also prone to making mistakes and giving candy away to the opponent’s attacking line. So, a change there could make a notable difference. Of course, the new keeper may well restore the confidence in the back, allowing them a smoother connection with the midfield (through André Almeida) and less defensive errors .
Probable line-up against Setubal (Note: I do not see JJ making big changes, except for the GK)
Here are Benfica and Setubal’s results during the Liga’s previous three games:
17/08: Rio Ave 2 – Setubal 0
Benfica 2 – Paços Ferreira 0
24/08: Setubal 2 – Gil Vicente 0
Boavista 0 – Benfica 1
29/08: Académica 1 – Setubal 1
31/08: Benfica 1 – Sporting 1
As it stands, the first 10 teams in the Liga table are:
- Guimaraes 9
- FC Porto 9
- SC Braga 7
- Benfica 7
- Rio Ave 6
- Belenenses 6
- Maritimo 6
- Sporting 5
- Vitoria Setubal 4
- Moreirense 4
Meanwhile, Sporting will be receiving Belenenses on Saturday (ref Cosme Machado) and Porto will travel to the Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques to try and steal the first place from Guimaraes (reffed by Paulo Baptista). This will definitely be an interesting weekend and we shall witness a few shifts in the Table.
Last minute Squad changes
“They have tradition, they take part in the Champions League and they are always amongst the top three teams in Portugal” are the words uttered by our new addition to the squad, young Bryan Cristante. Grown in AC Milan’s footballing schools, the 19 year old Defensive Midfielder was more than happy to get a taste of Champions League this year, and signed a 5 year deal for 6 million. It is unsure whether Milan has included a buy-back clause in the deal, and we will have to wait a little more to get the details of the contract. Playing for Italy U20, Cristante is said to be a rising star in Italy, and this move has angered many Italian and Milanese fans (which should be a good sign).
Twenty six year old Silvio will be wearing our jersey for another year, as Atletico Madrid extended the winger’s loan contract. Still recovering from an unlucky injury sustained last year against AZ Alkmaar (he violently crashed into Luisao, resulting in a fibula and tibia fractures), he should be a great option for JJ once fully fit.
Sidnei was loaned to Deportivo Coruna. The Brazilian central back, who was given many chances to shine during pre-season in the absence of the duo Luisao-Jardel/Lopez, has failed to do so and will be wearing other colours in 2014/2015.
White handkerchiefs for Bento
Just before last Sunday’s Seleçao kick off for the Euro 16 Qualifying Round’s first game, I remember having twitted “I will not settle for anything other than a 5-0 win against Albania.” Surely a comfortable win against the very modest Balkan team (ranked 71st) wasn’t a stretch…
Well, it seems like Paulo Bento hasn’t got what it takes to manage the National Team. After a shocking World Cup campaign, which saw us knocked out at the group stages, we have stooped to a new low by getting beaten by Albania on our own soil! The squad, led by Nani (that was probably a sign for things to come) went through big changes compared to the WC typical starting eleven. Bento had promised some “fresh blood” and could have lined a beautiful team, a mix of experience and youth, but went for improbable choices. We seem to rely too much on superstar Ronaldo to save the day. A team is made of 11 men, not just 1 talent and 10 amateurs.
André Gomes was mediocre at best in his passing abilities and Nani wasted the equalizer opportunity (and was an atrocious captain). Vieirinha, W Carvalho and Eder all proved to not have the quality to represent the Nation. I would give more opportunities to Carvalho but for goodness sake, I think Eder and Vieirinha’s place is to watch the Seleçao play from a pub with some mates.
We are definitely going to struggle to beat Denmark the 14th of October.