Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maritimo 1 - Benfica 1 -Different recipe, Same old Stew

It was the 4th tie in a row for Benfica in the Bwin. Not being able to beat Maritimo, Benfica continues in a state of decline, which could have very well been put on hold in this game, but once again the team's apathy and mental shutdown in the second half contributed for another poor result and yet another peek at what will in the end of the season be considered a catastrophic season.

It was Chalana's first Bwin game at the helm of Benfica, and for his fist game Chalana made significant changes here's the starting 11 that he fielded:

Quim in goal; Nélson, Katsouranis, Edcarlos and Léo in the back; Petit and Binya in the defensive midfield, with the Cameroonian having more freedom to go foward. In the midfield, it was Luis Felipe on the right, Sepsi on the left and Rodriguez, polaying closer to Cardozo.

Not much of a change in the back, as there aren't any better alternatives, with Zoro, Luisao and David Luiz all hurt, Edcarlos continues to get the playing time he wouldn't otherwise get.
In the midfield, Rui Costa's absence and the inclusion of Luis Felipe was the biggest surprise, transforming Benfica's midfield in a clear defensive minded midfield. With the exception of Rodriguez, all of Benfica's midfielders were all players with clear defensive characteristics. A surprising posture for Benfica who needs desperately to win. With that many defensive players in the midfield, it is obvious that Benfica will control of the midfield, but what about transition play? Who is going to lead the team into the attack?
Perhaps it's easy to criticize Chalana's choices now that the game is over and we all know the result. While the midfield choice i can somewhat understand, i can't understand the use of only one forward.

Onto the game:

Benfica took 10 minutes to get into the game, but was able to take control of the game around the 10 minute mark, much because of the high numbers in the midfield,. With more men in the midfield, Benfica had a clear advantage and more possession, Benfica's midfield played simple and short, the players supported each other and it allowed for a flow of gameplay, an improvement from the last games. Although Benfica held control of the midfield and played a safe solid game in that sector in the first half, it was the lack of an offensive midfielder that held Benfica back from going up on the scoreboard sooner than the 25th minute, when Cardozo met a Sepsi cross to put Benfica ahead on the scoreboard. Rodriguez roamed from one side to the other of the attack, but without another man to penetrate the final third of the attack Benfica's midfield-attack link was deficient, even though the opportunities presented themselves.

The second half, was has if someone had turned off the switch. A complete about face from the first half, a team lost, without direction, and allowing Maritimo to control the game, which they did.
Maritimo's counters and organized play became more frequent and Chalana put in Rui Costa in the game, for Luis Felipe in hopes that Benfica could once again regain control of the game and dictate game tempo, but that didn't happen. Maritimo "grew" in the game and would eventually get the equalizer in the 75th minute, when Maritimo's forward beat a way too passive Edcarlos to beat Quim. It was the inevitable result to what Maritimo had been doing up until that point. Maxi(72') and Nuno Gomes(80') made their way into the game for Sepsi and Petit, but couldn't really bring anything new to the game.

Quim - 7
Nelson - 6
Edcarlos - 5
Katsouranis - 6
Leo - 8
Petit - 6
Binya - 7
Sepsi - 7
Luis Felipe - 6
Rodriguez - 8
Cardozo - 7

Rui Costa - 6
Nuno Gomes - 5
Maxi - 5

MOM - Leo

While i enjoyed the first half and thought it was one of the better first halves Benfica has played in a while,the second half was just in line with the poor quality Benfica has gotten us used to. The visible inability of Benfica to turn around a game or to even put a game out of reach(as they have shown so many times)in the second half makes me think that securing the second place is going to be a very hard and complicated task. Benfica currently shares 2nd place with Guimaraes and there are still 7 games left in the league.

1 comment:

Starting11 said...

I guess I'm shocked how much upheaval Camacho's departure has caused for this team. If they miss out on the Champions League because of it, it will be a shame.

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