Wednesday, October 25, 2023

What is wrong with Benfica in Champions League?

Benfica Blog
Benfica's struggles in the Champions League this season hit an all-time high when they lost for the second time at home in the competition to keep a perfect record that no one wants to have. Benfica will now be known as the only club to be drawn from pot one in the Champions League to have gone with zero goals and zero points in their first three games of the group stage.

Benfica's chances to advance out of the group stage are currently slim and could be none when they face Real Sociedad away in Spain after suffering a flattering 1-0 loss at home to them just yesterday. Benfica have looked like a shell of last season's club that made a run to the quarterfinals, which some would say that a series of unfortunate events saw the club exit to last years finalists.

But what has happened to the club that has looked terrible in the competition? Looking at the players that currently remain with the club, you have Joao Mario and Rafa Silva, who are a shell of the players that put fright into clubs last season. The pair scored 11 goals between them.

The lack of usage of a true defensive midfielder has also proved costly, as the pair of Orkun Kokcu and Joao Neves are a far cry from last seasons generals Enzo Fernandez and Florentino, who commanded the middle of the field.

For all the accolades that Kokcu and Neves get for their league play, one needs to sit in place of Florentino, who, for reasons unknown, has fallen out of favour with his pig-headed bench boss Roger Schmidt.

Benfica have also failed to replace departing striker Goncalo Ramos, as the trio of Petar Musa, Casper Tengstedt, and Arthur Cabral have yet to step up and provide the pressure up front that Ramos became famous for.

The left back position is also a glaring hole in the squad, as the exit of Alex Grimaldo has cost the club some attacking flare, and the free kick specialist was also known for timely goals, which current replacements Juan Bernat and David Jurasek provide neither.

Benfica have three games to correct the ship, but an advancement from group play may be out of the club's hands at this point in the competition, they can only take it one game at a time and hope for a return to form quickly, but I won't hold my breathe, and neither should you at this juncture.

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