Photo: SL Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

Photo: SL Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

Overview: Defending champions Benfica will enter this season with several major challenges. The club lost several key players in the transfer market this summer and is likely to lose a few more.

But as always, Benfica has young, promising players to fall back on. The challenge for Jorge Jesus is to build a team around them. Benfica’s success will primarily depend on how quickly many of these fresh faces adjust to life in the Portuguese top flight.

As Águias signed some great looking players like free-kick specialist Talisca and Brazilian forward Victor Andrade. And, they could expect to welcome back defender Lisandro Lopez, forwards Ola John and Pizzi who all spent last season on loan.

Benfica will face Paços de Ferreira in their first Primeira Liga match at the Estádio da Luz on August 17th. The starting XI will look very different from a year ago. The club is hoping to win consecutive league titles for the first time since 1984.

Key Additions: Pawel Dawidowicz (Lechia), Cesar (Ponte Preta), Loris Benito (FC Zurich), Lisandro Lopez (Getafe), Ola John (Hamburg), Pizzi (Espanyol), Daniel Candeias (Nacional), Franco Jara (Estudiantes), Sidnei (Espanyol), Derley (Maritimo), Talisca (Bahia), Victor Andrade (Santos), Luis Felipe (Palmeiras), Bebé (Manchester United), Kevin Friesenbichler (Bayern Munich), Eliseu (Malaga), Nelson Oliveira (Rennes)

Key Subtractions: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Siqueira (Atletico Madrid), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Rodrigo (Valencia), Stefan Mitrovic (Freiberg), Lazar Markovic (Liverpool), Derlis Gonzalez (FC Basel), Ezequiel Garay (Zenit St.Petersburg), Filip Duricic (Mainz), Funes Mori (Eskisehirspor), Luis Farina (Deportivo), Bernardo Silva (AS Monaco), Ivan Cavaleiro (Deportivo), Oscar Cardozo (Trabzonspor)

Manager Profile: This will be Jorge Jesus’ sixth season in charge of Benfica. He has won two league titles in his time at the Luz but has never quite earned the admiration of the majority of Benfiquistas.

Players To Watch: Perhaps no player on Benfica will be under the microscope more than Portuguese striker Bebé. But by now, he is likely used to it. The club lost Rodrigo and Oscar Cardozo this summer, placing a heavy burden on Bebé to produce. Brazilian midfielder Talisca has looked good in the pre-season as well. And Jorge Jesus will have to count on veteran players like Enzo Perez, Luisão and Maxi Pereira to help steady the ship.

Expectations: Benfica is expected to win the Primeira Liga title at the very least. The club made the final of the Europa League last season. However, the expectation has always been to advance past the group stage of the Champions League and go as far as possible.

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