Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Benfica ready to close Pavlidis move

Benfica Blog
Benfica are hoping that their deal with AZ Alkmaar for striker Vangelis Pavlidis will close this week as the club looks to improve their striking options for next season. Benfica are Alkmaar are said to have agreed on a deal for €18M with €2M in addons for the 25 year old Greek International.

Benfica are hoping that Pavlidis will solve a glaring issue the club battled with last season and that was getting regular goals from their number nine. Look for Benfica to move on from Arthur Cabral during the summer as the club will retain Marcos Leonardo to back up Pavlidis while the status of Casper Tengstedt should be decided shortly.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Benfica linked with Lyon left back Tagliafico

Benfica Blog
Benfica are looking for an additional left back after signing Alvaro Fernandez permanently from Manchester United just a few weeks ago, as the club looks for a player to provide a friendly competition internally for a place in the starting XI. 

Lyon left back Nicolas Tagliafico is the name being mentioned in Portugal as an apparent target for Benfica this summer, as it looks to strengthen one of their weaker positions last season. 

The 31 year old Tagliafico has been with Lyon for two seasons after spending the previous four with Dutch side Ajax. Tagliafico appeared in 31 games across all competitions last season, scoring three goals while providing two helpers.

Tagliafico has one more season left on his contract with Lyon and his price tag should be in the modest €8M to €10M range. The Argentinian international will be participating in this summer's edition of the Copa America and was a member of Argentina's World Cup winning squad.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Benfica will make Pavlidis first summer signing

Benfica Blog

Benfica look to have landed their first signing of the summer transfer window, according to reports out of Portugal, as the club and Dutch side AZ  Alkmaar are said to have come to an agreement to move Greek striker Vangelis Pavlidis to Lisbon.

The terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but it is unlikely that Benfica paid anything less than €20M for the 25 year old striker's signature. Pavlidis scored 33 goals last season across all competitions, which was more than Benfica's strikers combined during the same span.

Pavlidis will be announced once he returns from a short vacation and should hopefully solve a major issue that the club faced last season, finding goals from their starting #9. Benfica and Pavlidis have already agreed on contract terms.

The arrival of Pavlidis should mean the departure of Arthur Cabral, last season's failed summer signing who was acquired at a cost of €20M to the club. Cabral never really did seem to find his groove with the club and Benfica will be looking at all options to move on from the striker.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Benfica to pocket €10M on Gedson Fernandes deal

Benfica Blog
Former Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes is set to make a move from current club Besiktas to Russian side Zenit for €20M as both clubs are in the final stretch of negotiations. Benfica still hold 50% of Gedson's rights and will pocket half of the sale by the Turkish club once it is finalized.

Gedson departed Benfica in the summer of 2022 for Besiktas for €6M and has appeared in 81 games across all competitions, scoring six goals while providing thirteen helpers. Gedson has also captured a Turkish cup while with the Istanbul side. 

The 25 year old will become the second highest player sale in Beskitas' history and is said to have a €4M a season salary waiting for him with the Russian side.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Benfica - Player Grades - Forwards

Benfica Blog
Grading Benfica player performances during the 2023-24 season, I am only looking at players that played at some point for the club this season and are still members of Benfica's squad at this time. 

The grade scale goes from A to F with A being the best grade and F the worst grade a player can receive.

Lets get to our player reviews for Forwards:

David Neres - Neres was good at times, ok at others and injured, this explains the talented wingers season at Benfica. Neres missed just over two and half months between two different stints on the injured reserve and Benfica missed his heroics when he was out.

Player Grade: C+ 

Angel di Maria - Di Maria did all that was expected of him on his return to Lisbon but the fact the club had to rely on the 36 year old more then expected did not bode well for their season. Di Maria sparkled on many nights but was over used during the season and seemed gassed as the season grinded down. Di Maria is a free agent and it would be best to let him go.

Player Grade: B+

Rafa Silva - Rafa was right up there as the club's best player during the season. Rafa led the team in goals with 22 across all competitions and his speed continued to prove deadly against opponents. Rafa is also a free agent and his time at the Luz looks to be over after eight seasons.

Player Grade: A

Tiago Gouveia - The youngster did not look out of place when inserted into game action and produced as well as you would expect for a 22 year old. He was not awful but was not brilliant either. Gouveia deserves another chance to show what he can do next season but is likely headed out for a loan spell.

Player Grade: C

Casper Tengstedt - The hard working striker with no finish is how we will all remember Tengstedt's season. His regular starts left many scratching their heads due to his lack of finish around the net. His 4 goals in over 1,348 minutes of action is not what you would expect from a #9 and it's hard to see why the club would continue this failed experiment.

Player Grade: D+

Arthur Cabral - Benfica's big money signing from Fiorentina was a major disappointment this season, it took him some time to adjust to the club's style of play but even then could never fully earn the managers trust. His 11 goals across all competitions was pathetic and when your major accomplishment during the season is flipping off some fans, its time to end your stay this summer.

Player Grade: D+

Marcos Leonardo - He joined Benfica during the winter transfer window and seemed to score every time he came off the bench before that cooled off. His 7 goals in only 468 minutes of action was impressive but he still has a ways to go before earning regular playing minutes with the club but at least he provided some scoring from a number nine this season.

Player Grade: C+

Benjamin Rollheiser -It is hard to grade a player that saw just 152 minutes of action since joining during the winter transfer window. Rollheiser will get a full season under his belt this year to show if the class he showed in Argentina can translate to the Portuguese game.

Player Grade: C

Gianluca Prestianni - The 18 year old arrived in January and saw a whopping 3 minutes of action. Benfica dropped a €9M gamble on a player they feel will grow into a talented force with the club in the future. The future will likely not be this season though and a loan would be ideal for the youngster to get regular game action.

Player Grade: N/A

 

Friday, June 7, 2024

Benfica - Player Grades - Midfielders & Coach

Benfica Blog
Grading Benfica player performances during the 2023-24 season, I am only looking at players that played at some point for the club this season and are still members of Benfica's squad at this time. 

The grade scale goes from A to F with A being the best grade and F the worst grade a player can receive.

Lets get to our player reviews for Midfielders:

Florentino Luis The hard nosed defensive midfielder provided exactly what you expected of him in the role he is assigned. Is never going to provide much offensively but the club's best defensive midfielder and it is not even close.

PLAYER GRADE - B-

Joao Neves - The kid was awesome this season, did everything he was asked and then some. His season was so grand that he is likely to finish in the top tier of the golden boy award and could even win it with a terrific Euro 2024. The key is can the club hold onto him for at least one more season. Let's hope so.

PLAYER GRADE - A+

Orkun Kokcu - He started off slowly as it took some time to adjust to a new role thrown his way but in the games that he did shine it was because he was slotted in his preferred central attacking role. More is expected of Kokcu next season and the club will need him to deliver.

PLAYER GRADE - C-

Joao Mario - He took a step back this season on the offensive side of the ball as he scored 33.3% of his goals off a hat trick in Champions League action but he could still be counted on to run and provide tight marking on opponents when required.

PLAYER GRADE - C+

Roger Schmidt - Schmidt became public enemy number one on the fans list this season, after a very disappointing performance from a club that on paper was the best in the league. The club captured just one trophy and that took place in August 2023. His lack of trust in his bench players and stubbornness to make in game adjustments proved costly this season. Look for Schmidt to be on a short leash during the 2024-25 campaign.

COACH GRADE - D+

 


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Benfica - Player Grades - Keepers and Defenders

Benfica Blog

Grading Benfica player performances during the 2023-24 season, I am only looking at players that played at some point for the club this season and are still members of Benfica's squad at this time. 

The grade scale goes from A to F with A being the best grade and F the worst grade a player can receive.

Lets start our player reviews with Keepers and Defenders: 

Anatoliy Trubin - The clear Benfica number one shot stopper, was brilliant for most of the season but did have that odd brain cramp, which seemed to happen a bit more during the clubs Champions League campaign, he had 17 clean sheets over 48 contests.

PLAYER GRADE: B- 

Samuel Soares - The youngster only appeared in 5 contests but did keep three clean sheets. He did not get enough game action for a proper grade but did what was expected when he did appear. It would be best if he was loaned out this upcoming season.

PLAYER GRADE: C+

Alexander Bah - Benfica's right back missed a lot of game time due to injuries this season but when he is healthy he is a game changer for the club. Here is hoping that he can spend more time on the field next season but a reliable back up would not hurt. 

PLAYER GRADE: C+ 

Fredrik Aursnes - Benfica's swiss army knife, he did all that was asked of him this season, playing wing back on both sides of the field, in the middle and on the wing. He appeared in 55 games this season totally 4,724 minutes, he is a real asset to the club but his play would flourish if he was given a more direct role.

PLAYER GRADE: A 

Antonio Silva - Silva appeared in 50 contests for Benfica and was a rock for the majority of the games, his partnership with Otamendi was solid when it had to be with the odd hiccup. This may be Silva's last season at the club if the price is right as some of Europe's top clubs hover around.

PLAYER GRADE: B+

Nicolas Otamendi - The Benfica captain did not slow down even though age is slowly creeping in, look for the sale of Silva to see him move to his much preferred right center back spot this season. This should help his performance for the upcoming season.

PLAYER GRADE: B-

Morato - He played well when he was in his usual center back position but on many occasions was out of sorts starting games at left back. With the likely departure of Silva, he is ready for regular minutes next to Otamendi but please keep him away from the left back role, he adds nothing to the clubs attack there.

PLAYER GRADE: C 

Tiago Araujo - He appeared in only 20 games and for a mere 737 minutes but the youngster did show some flare when giving the opportunity to show what he could add to the club. He should slot nicely into the number three spot at the club if Silva departs.

PLAYER GRADE: C+ 

Juan Bernat - Add Bernat to the list of PSG loanees that seem to come broken from Paris. Bernat was suppose to help Benfica in the left back role but did not reach 250 minutes of action. Benfica would be best to stay away from PSG players going forward, as little game action seems to be the common theme.

PLAYER GRADE: D+

Alvaro Fernandez - Joined the club during the winter transfer window on loan and appeared in 16 games with the club. Benfica made the loan move permanent and it will be nice to see what the 21 year old can give the squad with a full season under his belt. Had some real good attacking moments but will need to strengthen on the defensive side.

PLAYER GRADE: C

David Jurasek - The summer signing just could not get going at the club and did not seem to fit manager Roger Schmidt's system from the left side. He did not provide much on the attack as he was expected to when he arrived and the club had seen enough of him by January that they sent him out on loan to Hoffenheim after less then 500 minutes of action. Jurasek will likely not wear a Benfica jersey again.

PLAYER GRADE: F

Monday, June 3, 2024

Benfica set price point for Florentino sale

Benfica Blog
Benfica is all ears on incoming offers for defensive midfielder Florentino Luis with the arrival of Leonardo Barreiro, who is suited to play the same role. The Lisbon club is open to moving on from Florentino if the right offer is received from an outside club.

Everton is said to be leading a pack of clubs that are interested in Florentino but have yet to get to Benfica's current asking price of €30M. Now the price would be negotiable under the right circumstances, but Benfica is in no hurry to negotiate a lower price at this time.

Florentino is another member of Benfica's famous Seixal Academy, joining the Eagles when he was a mere 11 years old. He has appeared in 131 games across all competitions with the club, scoring once while providing four helpers.

Florentino has also spent seasons on loan with Monaco and Getafe throughout his Benfica career. Florentino has captured two league championships and two Super Cups in his time at the club while also being a member of Portugal's U17 and U19 European title winners.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Benfica linked once again with AZ Alkmaar striker

Benfica Blog
Benfica will be looking for another striker when the summer transfer window opens, as it looks to find a forward who can not only score but also insert himself into games with authority, something it was clearly lacking last season.

The four strikers that Benfica used this past season, Arthur Cabral, Marcos Leonardo, Casper Tengstedt and Petar Musa, combined for a total of 28 goals across all competitions. Goncalo Ramos scored 27 goals all by himself during the 2022-23 campaign, so you can see why the club is going to the well one more time this summer.

A familiar name has reappeared on the list of potential suitors that the club will be looking at and that is AZ Alkmaar striker Vangelis Pavlidis, who the club was linked to last summer before acquiring Arthur Cabral from Fiorentina.

The 25 year old Greek striker just finished his best season as a member of Alkmaar since joining them in the summer of 2021. A season that saw Pavlidis score 33 goals across all competitions, six more than all of Benfica's options in 2023-24.

Pavlidis will not come cheap if Benfica is to go this route, costing the club at minimum €25M and the club will need to move on first from Cabral and, to a lesser extent Tengstedt if they are to make a move to acquire the lethal striker they so badly need for the upcoming season.

Look for Benfica to sniff around a host of strikers this summer, with Pavlidis' name being just the first of what might turn into a long summer for the Lisbon club if they hope to find the right piece to their attacking puzzle for next season.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Benfica authorize Otamendi to appear at the Olympics

Benfica Blog
Benfica has authorized captain Nico Otamendi to participate in the Summer Olympics during the off season according to reports from Argentina. Benfica and the Argentinian Football Association have held discussions and an agreement was made with Benfica, who gave the green light for this to happen.

Otamendi will also likely represent Argentina in the Copa America taking place before the Olympics, with the Copa taking place between June 20 to July 14 and the Olympics from July 24 and August 9. This will leave the 35 year old with little to no rest days, depending on the performance of Argentina in the two tournaments. 

 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Atalanta win gives Benfica direct entry to Champions League

Atalanta did Benfica a favour by defeating Torino 3-0 earlier today and locking a spot in Serie A's top four. The victory hands Benfica a direct entry into next season's Champions League and a minimum of about €40M that the club can put into their coffers.

Since Atalanta won the Europa League earlier this week, it gained automatic entry to next season's Champions League, but by guaranteeing a top 4 spot in Serie A, the Europa League spot now becomes vacant and goes to the best ranked club in the Champions League qualifying stage, which is Benfica.

The direct entry will adjust Benfica's off season plans as they can now focus on strengthening the club, with the group stage only kicking off in September as opposed to playing two rounds of qualifying, which would have commenced in early August.

The revamped Champions League format will see all clubs that qualify for the group stage play a minimum of eight games now, two against clubs in pots 1, 2, 3 and 4. The top eight clubs out of the 36 clubs advance automatically into the round of 16. While the clubs that finish 9th to 24th play a two leg playoff for a spot in the round of 16. 

Clubs that finish 25th or lower are eliminated from the competition and have no entry into the Europa League. Benfica will be seeded in pot 2 when the draw takes place on August 29th.

Angel di Maria set to return to Argentina

Benfica Blog
Angel di Maria's time at Benfica looks like it will be one and done, according to reports from Portugal's sports dailies. The Portuguese press is reporting that Di Maria has a verbal agreement in place to return to his childhood club, Rosario Central, amid for just six months.

Di Maria has always stated that his dream would be to finish his career at Rosario, but an event in March, when the 36 year old winger received threats to himself and his family if he were to return to Argentina, put those thoughts in doubt.

Di Maria is said to have had a change of heart and is once again open to returning to Rosario but he would do so alone, with his family moving to Miami to live. Di Maria is also demanding that heavy security be provided by Rosario for himself and that he will live in Buenos Aires, a full 300 km away from Rosario.

Benfica President Rui Costa is still set to meet Di Maria next week to discuss the winger staying at the club for another season, but a social media post by his spouse stating that she and Di Maria will miss Otamendi and his spouse has set the rumour mill of departure on overdrive.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Our 1000th Blog... Unbelievable

Benfica Blog
When I first decided to create an English blog dedicated to Benfica, I never imagined that I would still be going strong almost 5 years after my first post. The years have gone by and there have been happy times, sad times and plenty of other emotions that range from high to low when it comes to this club from Lisbon.

I never imagined that I would grow a following, not only on Blogger but also on Twitter, Flipboard and Reddit. I have striven to provide an honest look at Benfica over these years without being biased in my views of the club and on the majority of occasions, I feel that I have accomplished that.

This has now become a passion of mine and I hope to continue providing the fans of this blog with the latest insights, news and potential moves pertaining to the club for another 1000 posts. Here's a toast to that.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this blog over the years and I hope you continue to do so going forward. 

Links to some of our pages are below if you would like to follow me in other areas.

X (Formerly Twitter) - CLICK HERE

Reddit - CLICK HERE

Flipboard - CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Benfica left twisted after Europa League final

Benfica Blog
Benfica got an unfavourable result with the final score of the Europa League final, as Atalanta defeated Bayer Leverkusen, leaving Benfica waiting in the wings to see if they will get direct entry into the Champions League group stage next season.

A Leverkusen win would have seen Benfica earn an automatic spot as opposed to their current 3rd qualifying round spot but all is not lost for the Lisbon club as a Top 4 finish by Atalanta in Serie A would also see the club earn the automatic spot.

Atalanta currently sits in fifth place in Italy, trailing both third and fourth place by two points with a game in hand, but with their Europa League win, they do not have anything to really play for in their final two games, which could prove costly for Benfica in regards to their direct entry hopes.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Roger Schmidt looks set to stay at Benfica

Benfica Blog
Roger Schmidt looks set to remain at Benfica next season, after a disappointing 2023-24 campaign. The German manager still has two years remaining on his contract with the club and it would be quite costly for Benfica to move on from the 57 year old and his staff. It looks like the decision has been made for Schmidt to stick around for at least another season.

Schmidt is said to have turned down another approach from Bayern Munich this past week as he is committed to remaining at Benfica and returning the club to glory next season. Schmidt has captured two trophies with Benfica, the Portuguese League title in 2022-23 and the Super Cup in the summer of 2023. The club and its fans hope Schmidt can find the magic that made the club so spectacular to watch in his first season.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Benfica ends disappointing season with a draw

Benfica Blog

Benfica's 2023-24 disappointing season is finally over and the off-season can begin tomorrow to improve this club for the upcoming season, which is set to commence in August. Benfica, in their final game of the season, gave up an injury time penalty that allowed Rio Ave to gain a 1-1 draw in a match that saw the club use a handful of second stringers in their final starting eleven.

Benfica does not go home empty handed during the campaign, having captured the Super Cup to kick off the Portuguese season, but that was all the way back in August and many fans, myself included, do not see that as anything but a minor consolation for what turned into a season of sour grapes.

Benfica have a lot of decisions to make over the next couple of months, with the biggest being whether manager Roger Schmidt will continue on the sidelines. The club will also need to find itself a striker and look at improving both wing back positions if they are to succeed going forward.

What is certain this off-season is that the club will see the departure of Rafa Silva, but Orkun Kokcu seems to be a viable replacement, as the Turkish attacking midfielder has looked much improved since being placed in his desired position the past couple of months. 

Let the rumour mill begin as the off season is officially on

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Benfica renews contract with Betano for three more years

Benfica Blog
Benfica have renewed their contract with sleeve sponsor Betano for three more seasons, as the gambling company with remain the club's "Official Betting Sponsor" until the end of 2026-27 season. The sports betting company has been sponsoring Benfica since 2021 and the two sides hope to continue to grow their global presence through this partnership. The Betano sponsorship includes Benfica's B team and under 23 teams.


Monday, May 13, 2024

Benfica ready for new discussions with PSV for left back

Benfica Blog
Roger Schmidt wants reinforcements at Benfica for next season and is looking at former club PSV for a new starting left back. Schmidt had already asked Benfica upon his arrival for PSV wingback Mauro Junior, but the price tag at the time was higher than Benfica was comfortable paying.

After a season when the club struggled to find a regular left back after the departure of starter Alex Grimaldo during the summer. Schmidt is hoping that the club will land his preferred choice all along in the 25 year old Brazilian left back.

With Junior's contract set to end in the summer of 2025, the Dutch club could be more inclined to move the left back for a lower value to avoid him walking for free. Junior has been at PSV since the summer of 2017 and has appeared in 124 games across all competitions.

Benfica should do what it takes to get a reliable left back after the carousal of left backs that were used this season. Benfica used a total of six different players at some point throughout the season, with many playing out of position. The club will need to make sure they hit on this move, as it will be important to succeed next season.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Rafa Silva set to say good bye to Benfica fans

Benfica Blog
Rafa Silva's tenure at Benfica is set to come to an end at the conclusion of the season when his contract comes up, making him a free agent after spending the past eight seasons with the Lisbon club. Rafa has already informed President Rui Costa that he will not be returning to the club next season.

The speedy forward joined Benfica from Braga for €16M in the summer of 2016 and the club has gotten the most out of the soon to be 31-year-old. Rafa has appeared in 325 games across all competitions, scoring 92 goals while providing 78 helpers. 

Rafa ends his Benfica career in the Top 25 of all time in both appearances and goals scored and captured six trophies during his eight seasons at the club, with three of the silverware being a league championship.

Benfica play their final home game of the season this weekend against Arouca at the Estadio da Luz and Rafa will be set to say his good bye to the club's fans as he moves onto the next chapter of his playing career as a fan favourite for his long time commitment to the club.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Benfica's season is over.... now what?

Benfica Blog
Benfica's 2023-24 campaign is all but done with two meaningless games remaining in league action as the club settles for second spot this season after their humiliating loss to Famalicao over the weekend handed the Portuguese League crown to cross-town rivals Sporting. 

President Rui Costa will have some serious decisions to make this summer, with the most hotly debated being whether manager Roger Schmidt should return for a third season after a disappointing campaign that saw the club only capture the Super Cup to kick off the football season.

Schmidt still has two years remaining on his contract and his departure from the club with his staff could prove quite costly. The other decisions that Costa will need to make is which players will remain with the club next season and which will see their time end.

The club has free agents in Angel di Maria and Rafa Silva. The thought is that both would be open to remaining with the club, but Costa would be best to save those potential big salaries that both players would command and go in a different direction next season.

Benfica also has a striker issue, with only Marcos Leonardo, who arrived in January, likely to continue at the club next season. So look for the club to move on from low scoring strike options Arthur Cabral and Casper Tengstedt when the summer window opens.

Look for Benfica to also cash in on some of their more valuable youngsters, with Antonio Silva and Joao Neves' names the most mentioned moving on, but I can only see the club moving on from one of the two, with the most likely candidate being Antonio Silva.

Benfica should also make some smaller moves with the likes of Joao Mario, Florentino and Morato potentially donning new club jerseys next season. This will be an interesting summer and Benfica fans hope that the next set of departures and arrivals will bring silverware next season.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Benfica need to win for any hope at title

Benfica Blog
Benfica go into their game against Famalicao with a slim chance of repeating as Portuguese League champions, but they will need a victory today to remain in contention. The magic number is now one for Sporting to clinch the Portuguese League crown, which could happen as early as next weekend, but Benfica needs to let Sporting earn the title and not give it to them with dropped points in this game.

It has been a disappointing season for Benfica fans. A lot more was expected from this team, which on paper is the strongest squad in the Portuguese League but has been poorly managed all season. The club will see a series of changes during the summer season, which should see a series of players coming in and going out.

Kick off for today's game is at 8:30pm WEST.

 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Benfica linked to Guimaraes forward Jota Silva

Benfica Blog
Benfica are looking within the league for a possible reinforcement, with Guimaraes' winger Jota Silva being linked with a summer move to Lisbon, according to reports coming out of Portugal this week.

Jota Silva was recently named the league player of the month for March in Portugal and also earned his first call up to the Portugal national side during this same month, coming on as a substitute in two contests.

Jota has been a key player for Guimaraes this season as the Minho club battles for a top three spot for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Jota has appeared in 39 games across all competitions, scoring 15 goals while providing seven helpers.

Guimaraes is said to be looking for €15M to move on from Jota, which would be a hefty profit on the €190K that they paid Casa Pia in the summer of 2022 to acquire the 24-year-old.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Benfica working on purchasing all of Morato's pass

Benfica Blog
Benfica are looking to add the 15% of center back Morato's pass that the club currently does not own at this time. With those rights still belonging to his former club, Sao Paulo, Benfica have been in constant discussions to obtain those rights, whether they decide to sell the player or keep him during the off-season.

Benfica acquired Morato in the summer of 2019 for €7.6M and the 22 year old has appeared in 83 games for the club across all competitions, scoring twice while providing two helpers since joining the club. Morato has garnered interest from clubs in Europe's bigger leagues but with the potential of Benfica moving current starter Antonio Silva in the summer. The Lisbon club would like to hang onto the left-footed defender, who would most likely slide into a starting role with the club.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Benfica look to have found Rafa replacement

Benfica Blog
Welcome to Benfica. Orkun Kokcu, the Turkish attacking midfielder seems to have finally found his place with the club after a handful of sparkling performances in the attacking midfielder role. A position that Kokcu seems most comfortable playing and a position that earned him the Eredivisie Player of the Year during the 2022-23 season.

Benfica manager Roger Schmidt tried to see what kind of versatility he could get from the 23 year-old during the season by playing him in a variety of positions, but other than a decent performance here and there, it was a continuous failed experiment. 

It looks to have taken a Kokcu interview with a Dutch media outlet in March to change the mind of the German manager, an interview in which Kokcu stated his lack of playing time in his preferred attacking position had a lot to do with a string of poor performances this season. 

With current XI starter Rafa Silva set to become a free agent at the end of the season, Benfica is finally getting what they paid for when they acquired Kokcu during the summer for a club record fee of €25M and they have hopefully found the heir apparent to Rafa going forward.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Heat turning up on Roger Schmidt as season winds down

Benfica Blog
The heat has turned up on Roger Schmidt's future at Benfica after a disappointing season that saw the club capture only the Super Cup to kick off the club's 2023-24 campaign. On too many nights, the club lacked creativity and saw too many poor performances from a squad that, on paper, was the best in Portugal, but Schmidt's tactics and lack of utilization of players contributed to the club's downfall.

Benfica's SAD is now in the process of holding meetings to discuss whether Schmidt is the right man to lead the squad into the 2024-25 season. According to reports out of Portugal, the sacking of Schmidt and his staff would prove to be costly to the club, with the figure said to be €22M over the next two seasons. 

Benfica President Rui Costa now faces the most difficult decision of his term: keep or dismiss Schmidt. The majority of Benfica supporters are against the German continuing as the bench boss of the club. The way Schmidt has lost games, more so than the results of those games themselves, is what has irked supporters to the point of wanting the coach gone.

If Rui Costa goes against the grain and continues with Schmidt, he will then become the main target of supporters, a decision that could prove costly to his future as the President of the club. Benfica fans will look to get Costa's attention tomorrow with a planned protest on the ouster of Schmidt and hope that the President has all eyes on them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Benfica's Schjelderup excited to return to club after loan

Benfica Blog
Benfica's 19 year old winger Andreas Schjelderup has spent the season on loan with his former Danish club Nordsjaelland and has been in fine form during the season. Schjelderup has scored seven goals while providing ten assists across 32 competitive games.

Schjelderup recently spoke to Danish radio about his excitement about returning to Benfica in the summer and being prepared to fight for a place with the club next season.

The loan at his former club looks to have brought back the confidence that the youngster seemed to lose after not getting into much game action after arriving at the club during the winter transfer window last year for €9M.

Benfica are happy with the strides that Schjelderup has made this season and hope that this translates onto the field with the club next season.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

What now for Benfica after a disappointing season

Benfica Blog
Benfica President Rui Costa will need to figure out the direction of the club for next season after a deifying past two weeks that saw the club fall twice to rivals and league leaders Sporting in league and Taca de Portugal action and although they do remain mathematically in the title chase, the chances of capturing the league title are slim at best.

Benfica also exited the Europa League in penalties to an inferior opponent in Marseille when manager Roger Schmidt decided that his game plan in the second leg was to protect their first leg win by doing so without high pressure and playing a defensive block. He was punished for his choice of a poor strategic plan, as the club lacked any offensive dynamics.

Schmidt is the big question mark in all of this, as moving on from the German bench boss will cost the club a hefty price tag, but the blame for this dilemma lands squarely at the feet of club President Costa. It was Costa who decided that German deserved an extension to his contract only a few months into his tenure. A decision that the President may have felt differently about if he had just waited for the season to conclude.

Schmidt also continues to show little flexibility and adaptability when his style of play does not work, his lack of proper use of substitutes, even when it clearly calls for them, is one of the more worrying signs for Benfica's future. The club now must decide if they will invest more funds in acquiring the players that fit into his style or move on from him and bring in a new sideline boss with a new identity who can get the most out of what the club already has on hand.

There is no doubt that Benfica, on paper, has the best squad in Portugal, but unfortunately, the game is not played on paper but on grass and on grass is where the club has faltered at almost every turn this season. Benfica fans require someone's head on a platter and President Rui Costa needs to decide what now for Benfica? Before that head is his. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

It's time to see if Benfica has players

Benfica Blog

When Benfica's game against Farense kicks off on Monday, the club could be as far back as ten points from league leaders Sporting. With little or no chance of catching them for the title at that point, it just makes sense that Benfica sees what they have in players like Orkun Kokce, Tiago Gouveia, Alvaro Fernandez and Marcos Leonardo to name a few.

With the expiring contracts of Rafa Silva and Angel di Maria at season's end. there is no need to give these players a regular spot in the starting XI going forward. There is no need to continue to play Fredrik Aursnes out of position at left back and there is no need for Otamendi to take up the playing minutes from the club's younger backs.

Roger Schmidt Out, is a common noise that you continue to hear from the club faithful, but without some sort of agreement on the departure of the German coach and the club, it may prove to be too costly to make the type of move that a large number of fans would love to see.

What Roger owes the fans after such a miserable season is a chance to see what Benfica has in players he does not use often enough. Let the fans see if these are Benfica players or not. It's the least you can do for the fans, think of it as a parting gift, Roger.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Benfica exit Europa League on penalties after abysmal performance

Benfica Blog
Benfica arrived in Marseille with a 2-1 lead after defeating the French club just one week ago and decided to lay an egg in the second leg, with a performance that you would not expect to see from a club of Benfica's stature who got their game plan all wrong on this night.

Benfica's blueprint was simple: stay back and protect a lead and hope to possibly score a counterattack goal. This plan allowed an onslaught of Marseille chances that finally paid off in the 79th minute when they scored to equalize the aggregate and take this game to additional extra time.  

Benfica were the better of the two sides in AET since they actually decided to try to get the win but by then, Marseille's players made sure to lay all over the grass, cramping and wasting time, hoping to get to penalties. The French club's plan would actually pay off, as Benfica would succumb on penalties 4-2 thanks to misses by both Angel di Maria and Antonio Silva (Why?).

Benfica looks set to end the 2023-24 season by capturing only the Super Cup back in August. This amounts to a total failure of a season for a club that, on paper, has the best squad in Portugal but may be led by the worst manager among Portugal's top clubs.

Roger Schmidt has shown that his time at Benfica should be over, as to go into Marseille with a game plan as if they were facing Manchester City was idiotic. The French club dominated the contest thanks to the fact that they were the only team that decided to show up for the majority of the game.

Schmidt's substitute choices, although minimal again, had little effect on the game, but worse yet, his decision to remove David Neres over Rafa Silva or Angel di Maria was mind-boggling, with the Brazilian creating what little attack the club had.

Rui Costa needs to find a way out of the two remaining years of Schmidt's contract and if not, hand the German and his staff €22M to go away. The money lost by keeping Schmidt and company around at the club could become astronomical and cost the President his place on top of the club if he has not yet realized this is the move to make.

The 2023-24 season has a few weeks remaining and then we can all enjoy our summer months and hope that next season does not leave the taste of manure in our mouths once again. See ya Rafa, See ya Di Maria, See ya Schmidt, one can only hope.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Benfica, rested and ready for Europa League match

Benfica Blog
Benfica head to France for Thursday's second leg encounter against Marseille, having rested their regular starters this weekend as they look to advance to the final four of the Europa League, holding a current 2-1 advantage on aggregate.

Benfica manager Roger Schmidt actually did the unexpected and gave various starters the league game off on Sunday, with some players, playing as little as forty-five minutes before being substituted in the club's 3-0 victory over Moreirense.

Benfica are hoping the rest re-energizes their regular starters as they face the tough task of trying to escape the Velodrome unscathed and cementing their place in the competition's final four. The winner of the Benfica/Marsielle matchup will take on the winner of Liverpool/Atalanta, with Atalanta holding a surprising 3-0 advantage over the English based club.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Benfica need to rest players for Marseille rematch

Benfica Blog
Benfica go into tomorrow's league game against Moreirense needing to rest some of their key players, with a big second leg rematch against Marseille on the horizon on Thursday. 

Benfica manager Roger Schmidt has started the same XI the past three games with few substitutes used during these contests and will need to refocus the squad for a final four spot in the Europa League after falling seven points behind league leaders Sporting going into their game tomorrow.

Schmidt would be wise to rest players like Rafa Silva, Fredrik Aursnes, Otamendi, Antonio Silva, Joao Neves and Angel di Maria, all of whom have appeared in over 3,500 minutes of action this season. With the Portuguese League title looking more and more like a pipe dream with six games to go. 

Will the German bench boss do the smart thing and have his key players rested, or will he continue to show the fans that he can be as clueless as they come. We will all find out that answer in the next 16 hours.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Benfica defeat Marseille for first leg lead

Benfica Blog
Benfica will head to France to face Marseille in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final encounter with one foot in the competition's semi-final round after a 2-1 victory over the French club, but they will be disappointed with conceding a goal to the French club when they were in full control of the game in the the first hour of play.

A pair of goals from Rafa Silva and Angel di Maria had the home side up 2-0 early in the second half before Aubameyang cut the lead in half at the 67th mark. Benfica striker Casper Tengstedt will rue a couple of missed opportunities that could have put this two leg contest out of reach, but hence is the game of football.

Roger Schmidt continues to struggle to make adjustments to his tactics after the opposition makes some tweaks to their style of play during the game and his lack of substitution usage of late is definitely a head scratcher especially when players look exhausted on the field. Here is hoping the club can go into France and play like they did the first hour of this contest and not the last thirty minutes.

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Benfica respond to Marseille police and tell French fans to stay home

Benfica Blog
Benfica have responded to the Marseille police's actions and have banned Marseille club fans from attending the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final game less than 48 hours before kickoff.

Benfica announced earlier today that, after receiving communication from French authorities, the club's fans would not be permitted to attend the second leg in France. The club pursued the action of canceling the tickets of Marseille fans who were set to attend the first leg at the Estadio da Luz on Thursday after speaking to local authorities.

The club will now reissue the tickets to only club members and has informed the club's fans not to travel to France for the second leg to avoid potential tense situations. Benfica stated that it regrets the decision of French authorities, which calls into question the spirit of the sport.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Benfica season could all be for not with Sporting loss

Benfica Blog
Benfica suffered a devastating loss yesterday to their archrivals and league leaders Sporting 2-1 after the Lions scored the winner early in injury time. Benfica now sits four points behind Sporting, who can stretch that lead to seven with a victory as they hold a game in hand over Benfica.

With six games left in the season, this kind of lead can turn into an insurmountable amount without a complete collapse by Sporting. Benfica are still alive in the Europa League, but their lack of creativity in recent games does not give fans much excitement that they can do what is required to move past Marseille and into the semi-finals.

The fans frustration with manager Roger Schmidt continues to increase as his lack of in-game adjustments with substitutions or tactics might finally put the German on thin ice with the club's management team as well. Schmidt continues to be outcoached and outclassed in games of importance this season and his stubbornness to constantly play his players out of position proved costly on the opening goal yesterday.

The season is not over and Benfica will do their best to fight until the bitter end, but yesterday's loss has almost hammered the casket shut on the club's season. This is not what you would expect from a club that has the best and deepest squad in the league.