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Jose Miguel Saraiva provides a detailed scout report on Bruno Varela, Benfica’s young goalkeeper.


Benfica has already given European football two amazing goalkeepers that can be considered some of the best in the world: Jan Oblak and, more recently, Ederson Moraes. They both performed at an amazing level for the Portuguese club and signed for big European clubs, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. Despite the uncertainty that Ederson Moraes’ departure has left among the Benfica supporters regarding who will take his place, the goalkeeper analysed in the following article will undoubtedly be able to convince all supporters and is set to become one of the future great goalkeepers in Europe: his name is Bruno Varela.

Who is Bruno Varela?

Bruno Miguel Semedo Varela is a Portuguese goalkeeper born in 1994, in Lisbon. He started playing football in 2002 for the Portuguese club Ponte Frielas. In the beginning of the 2006/07 season he was transferred to Benfica, being only 12 years old, and played in all the Benfica’s youth teams. In the season of 2011/12, he played 25 matches for the Benfica U19 team and really stood out, which earned him a spot in the A team, but he didn’t play any official match for the latter.

In the season of 2012/13, Bruno Varela was called to the Benfica B team several times, having played 12 matches, and also kept his undisputable spot in the starting XI of the U19 team.

In the two following seasons (2013/14 and 2014/15) he established himself as the main goalkeeper of the Benfica B team, at a very young age, having played a total of 74 matches.

However, Bruno Varela was never convincing enough to earn a spot in the Benfica A team and never made his debut game for that team.

In the season of 2015/16, he played on loan for the Spanish second-tier club Valladolid but only played 1 match in the whole season. He returned to Benfica but was immediately transferred to the Portuguese club Vitória de Setúbal, where he played in the 2016/17 season. Having been given the right amount of opportunities, he soon grabbed a definitive spot in the starting XI and performed at an amazing level, becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.

Given his amazing performances this season, Benfica decided to sign him back for the present season and Bruno Varela has now the chance to become the main goalkeeper of the Portuguese champions due to the transfer of Ederson Moraes to Manchester City.

Varela in action for Portugal during the U-21 Euros (Photo credit: MACIEJ GILLERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Bruno Varela’s international career speaks for itself. He has made a total of 44 appearances for the Portuguese national youth teams. He started in the U16 team and is currently the main goalkeeper of the U21 Portuguese national team and was impressive in the recent Euros.

What is his Style of Play?

Bruno Varela is not quite the virtuous goalkeeper that often plays with his feet and even participates in the construction process of the team’s game, as he is not the sweeper keeper type. The sweeper keeper kind is becoming more valued in modern football, with the examples of Manuel Neuer or Ederson, amongst others, but Bruno Varela does not quite play that part. He is a secure and trustworthy goalkeeper. One may find him a good goalkeeper in a more conservative way.

What are his Strengths?

Varela, as was stated before, is a very secure goalkeeper between the posts, due to his height and tremendous agility. Bruno Varela is 6 foot 3, what makes him a tall and imposing goalkeeper, as he is also physically very developed, and that allows him to successfully occupy the whole area of the goal. This turns him into a gigantic obstacle, very difficult to overcome.

Another one of Varela’s main attributes is his speed. When in 1v1 situations or in attempting to retrieve the ball close to the goal, he shows great closing speed one-on-one when he gets out from the goal and goes for the ball. This allows him to prevent dangerous attacking situations from the opposite team and sometimes helps compensating his teammates defensive flaws. He is also reasonably effective in long throws when it comes to distribution.

Finally, Bruno Varela shows great mental strength and concentration, never getting anxious or unmotivated when he makes a mistake which allows him to overcome some difficult moments and situations with great success.

What are his Weaknesses?

Bruno Varela is still a young goalkeeper and there are some aspects he could improve on. As I said before, modern football has been requiring more involved goalkeepers when it comes to organising the team’s game. Thus, great teams, nowadays, invariably need goalkeepers that are confident and effective when they have the ball at their feet, as well as willing to go up in the field to sweep the ball in counter-attack situations or to help his team in the construction of the game. Varela still has to improve on this area in order to definitely establish himself as a goalkeeper for the great European clubs, as is Benfica.

The youngster could also improve on other out-of-the-goal situations, like when he comes for crosses, as he could be more confident and tenacious in situations like these, that are incredibly risky and dangerous in case of a goalkeeper failure. His physical structure puts him in an advantageous position in these situations but he needs to grow in confidence as well as in technique in order to never fail when it comes to crosses in his attempts to grab the ball or to punch it out of the danger zone.

Bruno Varela is a player of great potential and now has a golden opportunity to become the main goalkeeper of a great club like Benfica, and also to establish himself as a valid alternative to the Portuguese national team’s goalkeeper Rui Patrício in the future. Coach Rui Vitória will certainly bring the best out of this young promising Benfica-made goalkeeper.


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Jose Miguel Saraiva

Jose Miguel Saraiva

José Miguel Saraiva is from Leiria, Portugal and is a Sporting Lisbon fan. He currently attends a Law School in Lisbon and has played football for 12 years.
Jose Miguel Saraiva

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