As we move into the new club football season, Outside of the Boot will be publishing regular Tactical Previews of the sides from across Europe’s top seven leagues. This one focuses on Portugal’s champions, Benfica. Antero Santos takes a look at their basic formation, analyses their tactics, key player and their potential key young players of the 2014/15 season.
The 2014/15 season will not be easy for the Portuguese Champions and the UEFA Europa League runner-up. During the summer, Benfica have paid the price of a great season, with lots of key players leaving, and now the head coach Jorge Jesus has the hard task of rebuilding a new team, almost from scratch, in order to defend the championship title and please the demanding Benfiquistas.
Formation | How will they set-up?
Last season Benfica played with the traditional two centre backs, one left back and one right back. In front of that line, a defensive midfielder, with the task of covering the back line when any of the defenders take part in the attack. This player also needs to start attacks. In midfield, Benfica had a box to box player, while up front, the team fielded two wide open wingers and two forwards who were comfortable dropping deep to influence the game.
We will see a similar system this season. Jorge Jesus generally creates his tactics and his system based on what he believes are the general requirements, often ignoring the positions that players usually occupy. He prepares his teams with lots of well defined processes, and the oldest players are very important to implementing these. Benfica generally have a few replacements for their senior players lined up at all times, because a mass exodus really isn’t something that’s unusual for them. This allows the back up players to be prepared and used to the system, as they serve as understudies to the seniors. However, this time around, a lot of players have left together, meaning that the younger players haven’t really had the time to get accustomed to the new systems in place.
This season Benfica will likely play with 4 defenders, 2 midfielders, who will both help to screen the defence, and kick start attacks, a line of 3 very mobile players, of whom 2 are wingers will provide width, along with a second striker. Up front, they will use a forward who is very mobile.
Analysis | What can we expect from them tactically?
In defence is where Benfica is most defined. On the right side is Maxi Pereira with his endless stamina and when he is not available, versatile players like André Almeida and Silvio filling in.On the left, we will see 2 new faces in the coming season. Eliseu will compete with Benito, who put in some impressive performances in pre-season. In the centre of defense Benfica can count on Luisão, who knows Jesus’ methods better than anyone, and is the core member of this squad. To partner him, Jorge Jesus has Jardel who has done well when given the chance. Giving him competition is Lisandro Lopez, who is coming off an excellent season with Getafe. There is also the young player, Césear but he’s unlikely to feature much.
In my personal opinion the player that should partner Luisão is Lisandro Lopez mostly because of the good performances he put in last season. Cesear, realistically, is being developed as a long term replacement for Luisao, but the best player to be his current understudy is Jardel.
The midfield is where the nightmare starts. In normal conditions the two men in the middle of the park should be Fesja and Enzo Perez, but Fesja is out with a long term injury(returning only in 2015) and the soap opera of the transfer of Enzo Perez leaves many doubts in this sector. Benfica has Rubem Amorin and André Almeida, both of whom are very versatile players, and can cover Fesja’s position, while also taking care of the defensive processes in the Enzo Perez role. For the wings Benfica has a lot of choices, starting with Nico Gaitan, who can play on the left, right and as a false forward. Salvio generally plays on the right wing and does it very well. Bébé is being trained to play on the wings, and Ola Jon has also performed very well in pre season games playing on the flanks, and showing a very good attitude on the field. Benfica also have Sulejmani, but he’s out with a long term injury for now. The coach has, however, mentioned that Benfica is in the market for a center midfielder.
Aside from that, Benfica are looking for someone in attack as well. At the moment, Jorge Jesus can count on Lima to work as a forward and will be partnered by Derley or Telisca, who will play just off him. As far as these positions go, Jorge Jesus can also fall back on the likes of Jara, Gaitan and Bébé.
In the conclusion Benfica will mostly line up in a 4-2-3-1 that can easily transform into 4-1-3-2 with the right and left back very participative in the attacking process. One defensive midfielder and one box to box midfielder will sit in front of the back four, and two wingers that have permission to cover all the attacking zones; one striker, and one man playing just off him.
Key Player | Who will be the stand-out player for the system?
The key player in the Benfica side is the captain Luisão. Being the most experience in the team he’s the leader on and off the pitch, an extension of the coach on the training ground. Luisão is the player that has all of Jorge Jesus’plays in his head and knows the system very well. He is the leading voice on the field and his excellent positioning is coupled with his fantastic intelligence. Though his influence practically is not as far reaching across the pitch, Benfica need some form of motivation now given that half their squad and core players have been ripped apart in the transfer market.
Talent Radar | Who will be the key young player this season?
César is a player that is being prepared to take the spot of the 33 year old Luisão with the defender likely to be transitioned out after this season. Benfica needs to prepare his replacement and for the moment the choice is César, a player who has many of the same traits as Luisão.
Anderson Talisca is a highly-rated player in Bahia, as a pure number 10. The problem is that Benfica doesn’t play with a number 10 system and Talisca has been receiving training to play in other positions, and that takes time. Nevertheless, Jorge Jesus is well known for his coaching abilities, as he has shown with players like Fabio Coentrão, Enzo Perez and Nemanja Matic.
João Teixeira is a player that grew up in the club as defensive midfielder that can also play as a Box to Box midfielder. He is a player that has a lot of confidence. During the pre season games he has shown good skills,with a few mistakes, which is normal for his experience. He will be playing in the reserves with a few calls to the main squad. This is a name to remember though, and if he gets more opportunities he will be a player to watch.
Written by Antero Santos.
You can read all our 2014/15 Tactical Previews here.