It was the day of Samuel Portugal, Lucas and non-European communities (the chronicle of Benfica-Portimonense) – Observer
596 days ago, in a journey that would dictate the change of leader in the Primeira Liga, Estádio da Luz called just over 40,000 fans in the stands (40,861 more specifically) for a reception by Benfica against Moreirense. This Sunday, more than a year and a half later, the number rose again to 50 thousand. It was empty, mandatory 33.3% of the capacity, rose during the season to 50%, now has no limits. And it was during this year and a half that football and the club itself incarnated and/or in an authentic roller coaster of few highs and many lows, meeting now no higher points trajectory during a pandemic.
Let’s go through the movie in brief. All national and international competitions were suspended, the return did not go in the best way and Bruno Lage did not even finish a 2019/20 season that ended with defeats in the Championship and in the Cup final. Jorge Jesus was signed with a strong squad with an investment of 100 million, everything happened between the removal of the Champions, several unexpected defeats and outbreaks of Covid-19, and the team again failed all the titles. Now, with the same coach and a squad very similar to last season but reinforced with João Mário and Yaremchuk, as eagles not only reached the Champions League group stage but also led the Championship only with victories.
This Sunday, Benfica hosted Portimonense with that confidence on the rise, with a capacity like they hadn’t had for a long time, only with a low injury (Lazaro) and after winning 3-0 at Luz against Barcelona in European game you’ve long been looking for. However, there was still the question of chip to resolve.
“It’s not just a psychological change, it’s a physical one too. When playing in Champions, the intensity and strain are much greater, physically and emotionally, than in a national competition. It’s not just the chip, is the physical ability and the way to think about the fastest game is that it is not there. This lowers the intensity of the game and makes it seem like the player couldn’t change the chip. This happens even with the supporters. they go to the game tomorrow [domingo] without changing the chip, they will wait 3-0 or 4-0 and it’s not the same”, he began by warning Jorge Jesus, before assuming that Portimonense would “defend much better” than Barcelona.
“It’s a completely different game. It’s normal to start making comparisons, but for us it’s always the same: playing to win. The victory against Portimonense is as important as Wednesday’s. We’re going to play against an opponent who has conceded as many goals as we do, it’s a sign that they’re a team that defends well, that will create a lot of problems for us. The fact of being able to watch the games in Portugal with maximum capacity is yet another incentive because Benfica fans want the team always have a lot of confidence. I don’t know people will be at the stadium, but at least 50,000 could be. This is very good, with the fans things can become easier”, he complicated.
The Benfica coach, unlike what happened in other moments in other seasons, did not lose the humbler face of his speech despite the great start to the season, but he took the opportunity to praise two units that have made a big difference without defensive balance and without potential. team striker, Weigl and João Mário. “Weigl is a player with very high physical endurance, even in this game against Barcelona he ran 12 kilometers or so. You are very confident. When their minds are fine they even run more and play more than they think. João Mário is a player that everyone knows, we thought he was the player to do various functions in the strategy and tactical system and he entered Benfica like a glove, he adapted well. He is a player who, in addition to his technical-tactical quality, is a mentally well-structured person and things have been easy for him”, he stressed about the duo.
In the end, Jorge Jesus assured that physically the team didn’t blame anything on Wednesday’s game, but it was for the midfield and the lower performance of this pair that Benfica didn’t do so well. Accounts made, and despite the first loss of the season, the big problem for the reds was the lack of effectiveness, even more combined with an excellent performance by the goalkeeper of Portimonense. But he was not the only one, between a Darwin of lesser performance and a less farsighted midfield, especially when Rafa went more to the wing. This Sunday in Luz was the day of (Samuel) Portugal, Lucas and non-European communities, who once again benefit from the wear and tear inevitably caused by Champions.
The beginning, this one, had little or no interest. Benfica started to feel difficulties in approaching the last third and Portimonense tried to freeze the ball on the success of leaving in transitions. In fact, if it wasn’t for a yellow card to Yaremchuk for a tougher approach when he tried to press in the midfield, there wasn’t even any note about a game that had raised high expectations and that once again had the red gala set to confirm the good. moment after the victory against Barcelona. Then everything changed. Because Grimaldo climbed more, because Rafa discovered the spaces between lines, because João Mário took more in the offensive game.
In the first great opportunity, Grimaldo added alone on the left, crossed low into the area and Yaremchuk deflected his left foot to the opening defense of a Samuel Portugal particularly inspired by the Light (23 ′). This was followed by another great play by Rafa from the right, catching Darwin a little late in the small area (29 ′), a header by Otamendi after a corner to the Brazilian’s nova (35 ′), a direct free-kick by Grimaldo for another intervention by the guard -Algarvian nets (38 ′), a move in which Rafa passed everything and everyone at speed except Samuel Portugal when he was isolated in the area (41 ′) and another header in Grimaldo’s area for another intervention by the visiting keeper (45 ′). ). It is true that Vlachodimos caught a shot from outside the area of Aylton Boa Morte (33 ′) in the middle, but Benfica’s almost overwhelming dominance over 20 minutes just by chance didn’t bring any goal.
At half-time, Jesus replaced Gilberto for Gil Dias on the right wing, not changing the way the team attacked and that had been unlocked after the initial 20 minutes, except for some positions that managed to surprise Portimonense. Soon to open, Yaremchuk managed to open the scoring after Rafa assisted but the move was eventually canceled by the VAR due to the Ukrainian striker’s irregular position when placed in the area (52 ′). The Algarvians had no way out, the Lisboners were closing the net more in midfield, on the contrary, but the pressure had repercussions more in the number of corners than in the shots on goal of the visitors, who gradually started to loosen up on the field as well.
Halfway through the second half, and without an offensive flow for it, Portimonense took a corner on the left side to do what no one had done to Benfica yet: score following a set-piece, with Lucas Possignolo coming from the best way to the first post to head to the 1-0 that would end to define the game (66 ′). Lucas Fernandes, one of the best of the Algarve at the individual level but who had little to show off, still had a good shot from outside but it would be again the reds to accelerate forward in search of a draw, with Lucas Veríssimo heading wide ( 76 ′), Taarabt also shooting off target (83 ′) and Otamendi, already in added time and a rare mistake by Samuel Portugal in the match, saw Fali Candé take off on the line the last chance for a tie (90 + 4 ′).