Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big win against Lyon

My tone in these first few blurbs I've written has been generally negative. After all, I started this blog at a point where all of the Portuguese football world has been comparing last year's Benfica with the current version. Despite Lyon's 3 goals in the last few minutes of Tuesday's match, my overall tone this time around will be very positive.

I'd like to point out that the last two points that I mentioned in my last blog entry were very pertinent in the game against Lyon. 

First, to my surprise, Jorge Jesus started the game with Fabio Coentrao playing behind Cesar Peixoto for the first time this season when these have been the 2 players to commandeer the left flank. With Fabio's legs at LB, he can participate in offensive incursions while having the capacity to recover his defensive position, something Cesar can only dream of doing. As I've beaten to death before, this is by far the best setup and only after Benfica's second goal did we see these two players occasionally switch positions. The switching at this point makes more sense, allowing for Fabio to pressure the ball carrier further up the field with a 2 goal lead.

Second, the first-touch passing increased, though not dramatically. A Champions League game against Lyon is much different than a league game against Pacos de Ferreira, which makes the slight increase more understandable. 

Though Benfica controlled the first 75 minutes, they spent great periods of time managing the game defensively rather than with possession. In this area, defensive organization, Benfica played 75 "perfect" minutes, as Jorge Jesus would say. Defining your team's identity is crucial in obtaining positive results. Benfica isn't a possession team against the bigger clubs (and arguably against the smaller clubs, since the Portuguese champs seem to have quite a bit of difficulty in games where they're expected to control ball possession). Defensive organization followed by quick attacking breaks, with first-touch passing as the centerpiece, is the trademark of this team against the likes of Lyon and is what allowed us to score 4 goals before we fell asleep.

After Lyon's first goal...well, I don't want to talk about it. ;)


  1. Great post and points Paul. I am surprised you were able to stay positive to write this, after watching the last 15 minutes, as it was quite disappointing for me. However, it was still a win, and they did play very well for the first 75 mins, like you said.

    Keep up the great work with your blog!

    Benfica Fan,

  2. Thanks for the kind words Brian! The last 15 minutes show just how much of the game is mental. This'll be a great week if we can cap it with a win against Porto.