Thursday, March 6, 2008

Benfica 1 - Getafe 2 - Seeing Red

#photo - Francisco Leong - getty images

Another game that i didn't have the opportunity to watch, i was able to follow the parts of the game Antena 1 was broadcasting, and i say parts because the game broadcast was often cut to the Sporting game, who was playing at the same time but ahead 30mins.

My review of the game is going to be based on what i heard on the radio, plus some of what i have read.

Camacho started the following 11:
Quim in goal. Nelson, Luisao, Edcarlos and Leo as the back four
Katsouranis, in the d-mid role. DiMaria, Rui Costa, Sepsi from right to left. Rodriguez supported Cardozo.
Surprising start for Sepsi, but with Assis not being 100%, Sepsi seemed the most logical choice for the left wing.

With several of their starters either hurt or serving suspensions, Benfica was forced to field a team with a couple of second stringers. Missing key players in crucial sectors, such as the middle of the defense and in the defensive mid sector, it's hard to think how the team won't somehow be affected by these absences. Nonetheless, the team faced the game as they should have, and were determined to start the game in the best possible way with a plan to beat a well organized and competitive Getafe team. That plan ended up being derailed when Cardozo was ejected at the 9 minute mark, a childish and immature move on Cardozo's part, who elbowed a Getafe defender. The referee was prompt and brandished the red card. With 80 minutes yet to be played, and down a man, Benfica faced an uphill battle against a quick Getafe, who took advantage of being one man up to play a quick one touch passing game, trying to keep possession and the Benfica men chasing. Benfica worked overtime to get into the attack, but Rodriguez, who took over the most advanced player role after Cardozo's ejection, proved to not be enough to make a difference. Even when either Dimaria or Rodriguez would get into the final third Benfica could not come up with number in the box. Getafe played a relaxed soccer and with the ability of being able to push up their defense, they were able to connect on direct passes that were hard for Benfica to defend. That direct game ended up putting Getafe up on the scoreboard, after a Delared shot deflected off Edcarlos and betrayed Quim in the 25th minute. Benfica lacked organization and seemed affected by Cardozo's exit. As if that wasn't enough, Luisao was forced out of the game when he injured(re-injured?) himself in the 28th minute, to add yet another worry. Zoro came into the game partnering with Edcarlos, a tandem that was unseen, well at least out of the training facility. Benfica continued never letting down, the players felt that they could turn the score around and put a tremendous effort into trying to turn the score around but to no avail. Half time came along and it was a chance for Benfica to regroup, Camacho needed to organize the team and define player roles, if Benfica was to minimize the damage and get a goal back. Up until the half, Benfica's chances were few and far between with a few shots from free kicks being the best opportunities for Benfica to level.

The start of the second half, brought no changes, Camacho opted to see how the team would respond to his locker room instructions. Benfica came out well, and once again fought tirelessly to make something happen, but Getafe defended well, occupied spaces and practiced the same direct one touch pass game, using the speed of their wingers to create danger for the Benfica defense. Camacho made his second change at the 60 minute mark, when he brought Mantorras on for DiMaria, sensing that Benfica needed a steadier presence in the Getafe defensive, if they were to make anything happen. Benfica was playing well and played in Getafe's field, Getafe took advantage of Benfica's all out attack to get another goal in the 67 minute.
2-0, 10 against 11, you'd have to be crazy to think that Benfica could change the chain of events, yet Benfica kept fighting and would eventually get 1 goal back by Mantorras in the 76th minute. Until the end of the game, Benfica still fought until the end, but the couldn't provide the extra push has the needle was on "E".

It could have been worst, i'm not going to say it was a good result, because it wasn't. The one goal gives Benfica some hope, and the way this team played tonight has to leave the team confident that they can beat Getafe in Madrid. The team attitude and effort is commendable and probably one of the nest of the season.

Despite playing away, Benfica has had great road games this season(especially in European matches)and can surely turn the aggregate in their favor.
In one week time, Benfica will once again meet Getafe, let's hope we can get some players back by then. At this time, Cardozo and Binya are certain to not play, the big question remains who else will be unavailable?


Starting11 said...

Clearly a poor result for Benfica, but how big is the gap between the Portuguese and Spanish first divisions where a 10-place team can manhandle second-place Benfica in Lisbon? Wow, how the mighty have fallen!

Fumas said...

I think that La Liga is definetely the most competitive league in the world. Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, Sevilla, Valencia(even though they are going through a rough spell) i think they are all very capable of winning the CL in any given year.
I think that Cardozo's red conditioned the team, but i think the team finished the game that getafe is an adversary that can be beat. I think along with the goal, the feeling the players were left with at the end of the game is something that is very important for the second leg.. with a little less than 7 days, recovering players might be the biggest task for Benfica. Depending how many players benfica is able to get healthy, i think they have a good chance of turning around the aggregate. We'll just have to wait and see who becomes available.

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