Atualizado: Fev 5
Benfica didn’t improve after last week’s display against Paços. The game against seemed settled as the team’s came back from the tunnel at half-time, with Benfica leading 2-0. However, Belenenses were daring, pressing high and winning the ball back constantly. Benfica struggled and Ferro’s own goal in the 70th minute made for a very tense ending.
Vlachodimos: 7. The keeper shined on a night where most players in front of him were poor. His top-quality reflexes were once again on display. Kept everything out, only conceding an own-goal and a penalty.
Grimaldo: 4. Average performance from the Spaniard. He remains an important outlet in build-up and he’s a quality passer, but he hasn’t provided as much offensively as he does when he’s at his best. Last night, he also displayed his tendency to get caught off position defensively.
Rúben Dias: 5. He was once again key in one of the goals – his pass to Vinicius in the build up to the third goal cut through Belenenses’ midfield. He doesn’t merit a higher rating because of how frail the entire team was defensively.
Ferro: 4. January wasn’t a good month for Ferro, who’s going through a poor patch of form that lays bare his defensive shortcomings. He’s capped off this torrid period with an own goal. Hopefully he can turn a new leaf in the next match away against Porto, which could be a decisive match for what’s left of this league campaign.
André Almeida: 3. Another poor performance from the skipper. Some say he earns his starting spot for what he contributes defensively; he was even poor in that regard. He was a yellow card away from missing the next match against Porto, but didn’t get carded, which means he’ll probably start at the Dragão next weekend.
Cervi: 3. After a purple patch, the Argentinian has regressed to the mean. It was more of the same from him: a lot of running but next to no contribution offensively.
Weigl: 5. Another underwhelming match from the German, bearing in mind all the hype around him and the transfer fee he commanded. As I wrote last week, the problem doesn’t lie with Weigl but with the system itself: he isn’t provided with enough options to play the ball forward.
This statistical analysis from Hernâni Ribeiro showcases that even though Weigl is a player that’s consistently looking for the forward pass, he’s been a passive passer in these first few games for Benfica due to the lack of passing options in the center, between the opposition's lines.
Taarabt: 8. Stole the show on his return to the starting eleven. No one at the club is as strong as he is at driving through an opponent’s offense. The intelligence in his movement makes Lage’s 4-4-2 a more dynamic system than it would be otherwise: when there are no options in the centre of the pitch, Taarabt can create them out of nowhere. The prelude to Vinicius’ opener showed exactly this: Taarabt dribbled past five Belenenses men before laying it off to Cervi. He also got on the scoresheet for the first time since joining the (main) team.
Pizzi: 5. He’s Benfica’s barometer: if the team is doing well, Pizzi will be having a good game; when the team’s overall performance is poor, so is Pizzi.
Rafa: 4. Had an off night, which is fortunately very rare from him. Almost nothing he tried came off. After looking at home as the supporting striker against Paços, he was a fish out of water yesterday. To top it off, he conceded a penalty at the death, which made for tense stoppage time.
Vinicius: 7. He’s consistently one of the best performing players and yesterday was no exception. He scored another goal, in a ball he chased after his own header came off the crossbar and had an intelligent first touch assist for Chiquinho’s crucial goal.
Chiquinho: 6. He was on the pitch for less than half an hour, but he had a tidy performance and (most importantly) scored the goal that sealed tonight’s win. His sub appearance and Rafa’s disastrous night may grant him a return to the starting eleven in the next match.
Another shaky match from Benfica. The previous game against Paços was an appetizer for this one: for the second match in a row, Lage’s side conceded possession to the opponent once they were in the lead. They saw out the match against Paços peacefully, but last night’s tense affair with Belenenses SAD was marred with defensive errors from the entire team. Benfica’s press is disjointed for the most part and last night’s defensive organization was faulty. By giving up control of the ball, Lage’s side gave up control of the match which made for a very tense second half. The lead was achieved through moments of individual brilliance and it was only upkept by Vlachodimos’ performance. A lot of games that make up Benfica’s current winning streak were like yesterday’s, where the result masks a poorer performance. Will the next match at the Dragão look like last season’s memorable victory or will it look like our defeat in gameweek 3?