Ranking, level, players on the horizon… Where is Benfica located before facing Marseille?

Ranking, level, players on the horizon… Where is Benfica located before facing Marseille?

In the Europa League quarter-finals, Marseille inherited the Portuguese from Benfica. A draw gives the Olympians hope against a team going through a complicated period like Marseille.

Olympique Marseille-Benfica is one of the poster boys for the Europa League quarter-finals, with the first leg taking place on Thursday, at 9pm, at Portugal's Estadio da Luz. Jean-Louis Gasset's men avoided Liverpool, Leverkusen and even Milan: they will challenge a team that, like them, has not been very confident lately.

The white season is on the horizon for Benfica

Last weekend, Lisbon played what was certainly one of the most important games of their season. With a short trip to the championship against historic rivals Sporting, the Roger Schmidt-led team certainly had to win to stay in the title race. The 2-1 defeat almost dashed all hopes of the Aguias side, who are now four points behind (with an extra day) behind Sporting with only six games remaining.

Nicolas Vilas, RMC journalist and specialist in Portuguese football, returned to this bad spiral that Roger Schmidt's team is experiencing: “Benfica is in a somewhat negative dynamic because they have just lost twice to Sporting, which is the historical rival. So they were eliminated in the tournament.” The Portuguese Cup semi-final and they find themselves far from winning the tournament now, it was a last chance match.

Bad results are not the only problem for the Lisbon club. “What you need to know is that there is currently a big wave of protests against Roger Schmidt, last year's champion coach, so there was a real buzz about him, and it was rippled with great enthusiasm around him, but everything calmed down,” says RMC journalist: “The year with the arrival of Orkun Kökcü, the most expensive player in the club’s history, who recently gave an interview in which he notably attacked Schmidt and the position he gave him.”

The hype made by Nicolas Vilas over Roger Schmidt was confirmed by Jan, an ardent Benfica fan: “Last year, we had one of our best seasons in a long time. We won the championship, we went to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.” League in terms of play, it is so exceptional that Benfica fans coined the term “Roger Paul”, in reference to our new coach Roger Schmidt who created an amazing game.

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The tournament is clearly slipping away, with elimination from the Champions League group stage seen as a poor performance (with a third-place finish in the last minute of the final day against Salzburg, securing the Europa League), for Jan, “This year is disappointing, “We are not the same team at all.”

Nicolas Vilas confirms this: “The atmosphere is tense at the moment at Benfica because there is a white season on the horizon, which is always a challenge for a club like this. We talk a lot about the crisis in Marseille but there, even if Benfica are not dropped, not getting titles will not help them.

A team without Gonzalo Ramos

Benfica's good 2023 season has attracted the attention of Europe's biggest clubs. In addition to Enzo Fernandez, who left after the 2022 World Cup to Chelsea for 121 million euros, the Lisbon club lost important players last summer, and not all of them were replaced by players with the same contribution. “There's been the arrival of Anatoly Trubin as a goalkeeper, he's been a starter but he's had a tough start. He's had a period of improvement but now it's complicated again so that doesn't help,” the RMC journalist stated.

“Two positions have not been replaced, the first of which is left-back with Alejandro Grimaldo, who left for Leverkusen, at the end of his contract no less.”

“Benfica have recruited many players in this position and finally it was Frederik Orsnes even though he is a base midfielder, so it is a bit strange. He is a boy who can play everywhere and is good everywhere but they have recruited players or Three perfect players.” “The full-back position, however, was complicated in the right-back position. We have Alexandre Bah, who was often injured,” explains the Portuguese football specialist.

The right and left back positions seem to be flaws to explore for Benfica fans as Benfica supporters consider them a big weakness in the team, like Jan. “The midfield is very good, it's our big strength, and the centre-back and goalkeeper too. On the other hand, it's complicated for both sides because we don't necessarily play with professional full-backs. It's also not easy in attack because we're still looking for the right striker.

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It is certain that the right-handed striker will succeed in replacing Gonzalo Ramos, who scored 30 league goals with Benfica last year. Nicholas Vilas says that this successor has not yet arrived. “Another position that cannot find a suitable player is the centre-forward position, as Gonzalo Ramos was sold to Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica signed Arthur Cabral who is struggling to prove himself, Marcos Leonardo arrived in the winter transfer window but the club’s top scorers are Rafa Silva. “And Angel Di Maria are attacking midfielders. They're not strikers, so it's a bit complicated knowing that these two players are at the end of their contract, and that raises a lot of questions for next season and also contributes to the tense atmosphere at the moment.”

A confrontation that pits two teams against each other in a complex stage

While Olympique Marseille remains away from four consecutive defeats in all competitions, Benfica faces great difficulty in big matches (draw and defeat against Sporting, draw and victory against Rangers in the Europa League, but above all a 5-0 win). League defeat to Porto in early March). “At the time when he will face Benfica and Marseille, there are above all a lot of similarities, and this means that they are two clubs with a lot of questions: the coach's question because even if he is still under the contract, Schmidt is highly disputed, many supporters” the media “Ex-Benfica players are demanding his departure from the club, this is also the case in Marseille with Gasset but at the moment we have learned that he was undergoing surgery in the short term,” admits Nicolas Vilas.

The main reason behind the poor results is that players are as questionable at Benfica as they are in Marseille. “There are also players whose future we do not know, and this is more or less the case in Marseille with a team in eternal rebuilding,” continues the person in question.

“For Benfica, there are positions where we have to strengthen ourselves because in the attacking line between Tingstedt, Cabral and Leonardo, you feel that no one is up to the task.”

“Then, at the heart of the game, there are a lot of absentees at Marseille and at Benfica there is a kind of chronic instability as well. Florentino has been coming off a brutal season and in the end he is starting one game in two games on average this season. We don't really know why, There are a lot of changes as well, Joao Mario was among the club's top scorers last year, and this year he is not the same player, and it is difficult to recognize a lot of players, and this is also the case for Otamendi who was captain but is having difficulty this season,” notes the RMC journalist. .

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Satisfaction is still there in this group of uncertainty, especially in midfield, with a player who will need special monitoring from the Focaine: “Joao Neves has become the focus of the team this season, it is about the big encounters,” says Jan. Unfortunately for 'Aguias', 19-year-old Joao Neves could unearth other prospects next summer who have a similar sales policy to OM's Nicolas Vilas.

“It is often said about Pablo Longoria that he trades but Benfica only lives off of that. There will also be a big departure to be made next summer.”

“We don't know if Antonio Silva will stay or not, Joao Neves is very popular but that's also one of the positive things, these two young guys who have had great success. Benfica's training center is still producing some great players, Antonio Silva we've already seen this year.” The past but Joao Neves is a great player this season, and there is also Florentino, a player who traveled a lot before returning, and we saw little of him in Monaco and Spain but “last year he really left but as I said, it is strange because he is one of the best ball-holding players in Europe.” However, he is only playing a little this season.”

With a midfield made up of Joao Neves, Florentino, Rafa Silva and Angel Di Maria, Benfica's main factor appears to be in the midfield and Jean-Louis Gasset's Marseille will have to find solutions to prevent this quartet from getting hurt. If Benfica are not at their peak, they nevertheless remain a historic club in Portuguese football, with a wealth of experience in Europe.

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About the Author: Lucinda Lima

"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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