Posts Tagged ‘Nicolás Gaitán’

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2015-16 Team of the Season

Goalkeepers

It was an excellent year for goalkeepers. The nod in goal should go to Sporting and Portugal number one Rui Patricio who had his best season as a professional. Ederson (Benfica) and Gottardi (Arouca) certainly deserve some recognition in this category as well. A special acknowledgement should also go to youngsters Miguel Silva (Vitória Guimarães) and André Moreira (União da Madeira).

Defenders

At the centre-back position, Jardel and Victor Lindelöf helped propel Benfica to the title. It is an unlikely story. Jardel has never been the quickest or most technically-gifted, but has still managed to put together a solid career. Lindelöf began the season with the B squad. Injuries to Luisão and Lisandro Lopez allowed the Swede to establish himself. Together, they were the backbone of the championship-winning side. It is an obvious choice in the end.

At the full-back positions, Porto pair Miguel Layún and Maxi Pereira are the most deserving. Layún finished joint-leader in assists with 15. An amazing total especially for a full-back. He also pitched in five goals. While, Maxi did not miss a beat after making the sensational move to the Dragões. Ruben Semedo was also excellent for Vitoria de Setubal and parent-club Sporting. Marvin Zeegelaar was terrific for Rio Ave in the first-half of the season. And Benfica’s Nelson Semedo was excellent prior to his injury.

Midfielders

There are many good choices in midfield. Danilo Pereira seems like an obvious choice in the role of anchor. The Portuguese international was Porto’s most consistent performer this season. Portugal will have two excellent options in the ‘number 6’ position in France. William Carvalho missed the first several weeks due to a leg injury but eventually found his rhythm.

It would be a crime to overlook Renato Sanches. He only made his debut in late October but there is no denying that Benfica really began to hit their stride with the 18-year-old in his line-up. Despite suffering through injuries, Nicolas Gaitan still managed to lead the league in assists (alongside Layún). João Mário gets the slightest edge over Braga’s Rafa Silva. The Sporting midfielder took a major step forward in his career this season. His Sporting teammate Adrien was consistently good this season. Iuri Medeiros (Moreirense) and Diogo Jota (Paços de Ferreira) established themselves as players to watch.

Forwards

The obvious choices are Jonas and Islam Slimani. Jonas was dominant again this season leading the league in goals again with 32. He also added 14 assists. While Slimani managed to come second in goal with 27. Despite a relatively slow start, Kostas Mitroglou notched 20 goals for Benfica. Outside the “Big Three” Estoril’s Brazilian striker Leo Bonatini is one to watch scoring 17 goals this season. He should move on to a bigger club in the summer.

Bench

Ederson, Ruben Semedo, William, Adrien, Diogo Jota, Iuri Medeiros and Mitroglou.

Rui Vitoria Benfica

Overview: Benfica will begin their season on Sunday in the Algarve when they face Portuguese Cup winners Sporting for the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira. As Águias are heading into a new season with a high amount of uncertainty following some unexpected changes this summer.

Jorge Jesus left the club and signed with cross-town rivals Sporting. While long-time right-back and fan favourite Maxi Pereira left for eternal rivals FC Porto. New manager Rui Vitoria will also have to find a way to replace Lima, who left for Dubai-based Al Ahli in July.

Nicolas Gaitan could leave before the end of the transfer window. While, fellow Argentinian attacker Eduardo Salvio faces a long absence because of a serious knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

However, the club has been in similar circumstances before. Last summer, Benfica lost several players from their treble-winning 2013-14 season and still managed to win the league for a second consecutive season. Still, the club goes into the new season with more questions than answers.

Key Additions: Raphael Guzzo (Chaves), Nelson Oliveira (Swansea), Filip Đuričić (Southampton), Bilal Ould-Chikh (Twente), Mehdi Carcela-González (Standard Liège), Adel Taarabt (QPR), Ederson (Rio Ave), Marçal (Nacional), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham)

Key Subtractions: Romário Baldé (Tondela), Lima (Al Ahli), César (Flamengo), Murillo (Tondela), Ivan Cavaleiro (Monaco), Hélder Costa (Monaco), Maxi Pereira (FC Porto), Loris Benito (Young Boys), Funes Mori (Monterrey), Sulejmani (Young Boys), Artur (Osmanlispor)

Manager Profile: 45-year-old Rui Vitoria has deep connections with Benfica having coached at the junior level with the club between 2004 and 2006. He went on to manage Fátima, Paços Ferreira and Vitória Guimarães before taking over for Jorge Jesus this summer. He led Vitória Guimarães to a fifth-place finish last season.

Players To Watch: Brazilian attacker Talisca arrived with high expectations last summer but despite a good start, he tailed off and was benched by Jorge Jesus. The 21-year-old will be counted on to play a bigger role with the absence of Salvio, and possibly Gaitan. His growth is essential to Benfica’s chances this season.

Expectations: Benfica fans have been spoiled in recent years with trophies and are not ready to temper their expectations just yet. The main challenge for Rui Vitoria will be to get his Jesus-era players to play the way he wants and fast in order to win a third consecutive Primeira Liga title.

Benfica Champions 2014-15

Benfica’s goalless draw with Vitória Guimarães on Sunday was enough to clinch the Liga NOS title for a second consecutive season with one match to spare. It was their 34th Portuguese League title, the most of any club. No club in the top 6 European leagues has more.

It also marked the first time since 1984 that As Águias won the title in back-to-back years. It seems like manager Jorge Jesus has finally accomplished what he was brought in to do and that is break FC Porto’s dominance in Portugal. At least for now.

Here are the 5 reasons Benfica won the Portuguese title this season.

Jorge Jesus’ Adjustments

Benfica lost several key players from last season’s championship-winning side. It is certainly not easy for any manager to integrate so many new players into the squad. Andreas Samaris, Talisca and Jonas proved to be adequate replacements.

When Enzo Perez left during the January transfer window, Jorge Jesus managed to find a replacement within the squad by converting Pizzi into a central midfielder. Although Lima and Jardel struggled at times during the season, Jesus stuck with them and was richly rewarded in the end.

Jonas

The Brazilian has to go down as one of the best signings of the season. It sounded like an odd signing at first. Jonas, a 30-year-old striker, out of contract at Valencia, who would never command a large payout for the Portuguese club.

Still, he proved to be exactly what the club needed. Jonas scored a goal in his first match with the club in October and has hardly stopped since then. With a match to spare, Jonas was second in the league with 18 markers in 26 matches.

Júlio César

He was once touted as one of the best goalkeepers in the world but Júlio César has had a rough go since leaving Inter Milan in 2012. He passed through Queens Park Rangers before ending up on-loan at Toronto FC in MLS. And there was the matter of the seven goals against Germany in the service of Brazil last summer.

Benfica, still reeling from the abrupt departure of Jan Oblak, decided to take a chance on the Brazilian. It proved to be another masterstroke. The now 34-year-old has made the most of his Portuguese adventure. He has earned an impressive 15 clean sheets.

Early European Exit

European competitions have always been a mixed blessing for Portuguese clubs. And like we saw this season, an early exit from competition could have a positive impact on a club’s domestic form. Benfica, once again failed to advance passed the group stage of the Champions League.

From the time the club played their last match in the Champions League in December, Benfica lost only two matches in the league the rest of the way. FC Porto and Sporting’s domestic form seemed to suffer as the season progressed, while Benfica only got stronger.

Head-to-Head Record Against Sporting and Porto

Benfica managed one victory and three draws against the other two members of Portugal’s ‘Big Three’ clubs. The club’s 2-0 victory at the Dragão in December was the difference in the end. It was the first time Benfica beat FC Porto away in the league in Jorge Jesus’ tenure as manager.

Jesus’ critics would argue that Benfica did not show up out to win the April 26th O Clássico against Porto, it really matters little in the end. Benfica put themselves in the position to dictate terms with their stellar league form. They proved themselves worthy champions.

Sport Lisboa e Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

Sport Lisboa e Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

Benfica’s 2-0 defeat of Olhanense at the Estádio da Luz allowed the Lisbon club to clinch the Primeira Liga title with two matches to spare. They overcame the memory of last season’s epic collapse to win their first League title in four seasons and the 33rd in their long history.

It could end of being a historic year for the Portuguese club. The Eagles are still active in the Portuguese Cup, League Cup and the Europa League. Although, Juventus will be a major challenge in the semi-finals of the Europa League.

After a difficult start to the season which saw them drop points in three of their first six matches, Benfica dominated their opponents the rest of the way and were fully deserving of their title.

Here now are the 5 reasons Benfica won the Portuguese title this season.

Jan Oblak

The goalkeeper is usually the most unheralded member of any championship squad. But in this case, many Benfiquistas will look back at the moment Jan Oblak replaced an injured Artur in a December League match against Olhanense as the turning point of the season. The Slovenian has been solid ever since. And so have Benfica.

Benfica would win 15 out of the next 16 League matches with Oblak as the regular starter. The Slovenian goalkeeper conceded only three goals along the way. Artur was not necessarily at fault for the club’s early season struggles. However, the squad did play much better in front of Oblak.

Squad Adjustments

Jorge Jesus has demonstrated an ability to alter his squad when needed this season. Guilherme Siqueira, Silvio, Ljubomir Fejsa, Lazar Marković and Miralem Sulejmani gave Jesus more options in key positions. In the event of injury or poor form, Jesus was always able to find a more than reliable replacement.

For example, Bruno Cortez proved unconvincing at left-back early in the season. With Silvio unavailable due to injury, Jesus had an excellent option in Guilherme Siqueira. Also, when last season’s Player of the Year Nemanja Matić moved on to the Premier League, his countryman Fejsa was more than able to fill the void.

Ezequiel Garay/Luisão

Benfica’s centre-back pairing was the spine that kept the club together this season. At 33-years-old, Luisão is probably having the best season he has ever had in Portugal. The Brazilian looked determined at the start of the season. He has scored some key goals in Europe as well.

Ezequiel Garay is also having an excellent season. The Argentine has scored six goals in the Portuguese League, a very impressive total for a centre-back. He is widely expected to move on to a bigger club this summer. Garay and Luisão have helped Benfica to the best defensive record in the league.

Squad Depth

As mentioned, Benfica’s summer signings gave manager Jorge Jesus better options. With the exception of Matić, the club did not lose any key players this season. Perhaps motivated by a three-year drought and the memory of last season’s collapse, the club spent heavily in the summer to boost their chances of winning the League.

Their great rivals, FC Porto lost several good players last summer. While, Sporting Lisbon has revived themselves through their famous academy. However, the long-awaited League title will have to wait another year. Benfica’s squad was so deep that Jorge Jesus could afford to rest many of his key players in the Europa League and Cup matches, and often still managed to get a good result.

Maturity and Experience

This year’s Benfica squad was not only deep but also determined and mature. Several players like Oscar Cardozo, Luisão, and Maxi Pereira were on the 2009-10 squad which was the last to win the title. Their maturity and expertise proved valuable this season. Perhaps the memory of last season’s collapse also served as extra motivation.

And with players like Ezequiel Garay, Nicolás Gaitán, and Rodrigo expected to move on this summer, finally winning a League title with the club is no doubt a relief. In the end, Benfica had the right combination of youth, talent and experience to come out on top. Manager Jorge Jesus may have silenced some doubters as well, at least until next season.

Vitória Guimarães defeated Benfica 2-1 in the finals of the Portuguese Cup on Sunday afternoon, giving the Cidade Berço club its first trophy in history. In contrast, the loss means a season without a trophy for Jorge Jesus’ Benfica club which will only put more pressure on club president Luís Filipe Vieira to make major changes.

Over a two-week period, Benfica conceded the domestic league to rivals FC Porto, lost to Chelsea in the Europa League finals and lost in the finals in the Portuguese Cup. Benfica’s fans hope for a historic treble have quickly turned to tragedy.

The match at Estádio Nacional in Jamor, near Lisbon began well for the favourites when Vitória defender Kanú’s clearance went in off Nicolas Gaitán to give Benfica the advantage at the half-hour mark. Benfica seemed in control at the half but disaster would soon strike.

Late in the second half, Benfica goalkeeper Artur’s poor clearance attempt fell to Vitoria’s Crivellaro in the middle of the pitch who passed it on to Soudani for the tying goal. Just moments later, Vitoria winger Ricardo Pereira did well to dribble past several Benfica defenders and fired a decent shot on goal. Artur misread the ball and it trickled in to give Vitória Guimarães the win.

Man of the Match Ricardo, along with teammate Tiago Rodrigues was playing his final match for the club after completing a transfer to FC Porto several weeks ago. The match did not lack drama after the final whistle either. Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo would confront and shove manager Jorge Jesus before he was restrained by several teammates.

Benfica’s disasterous finish to the season will unfortunately overshadow the terrific accomplishments by manager Rui Vitória and his young Vitória Guimarães squad. The Minho club who are based in the birthplace of Portugal’s first king win their first trophy in its 91 year history.

“We always believed in ourselves. The Benfica goal was unjust, because it went off a shoulder. At the half, we were very calm, I told the squad that we just had to raise our intensity. The young players deserve to be congratulated. We have some great talent. A large number of Portuguese do not know Guimarães but today we showed what it means to win,” manager Rui Vitória told RTP 1 television.

Guimarães striker Amido Baldé, who is another young player linked to a move abroad praised the club’s character. “We are fully deserving of this because of all the hard work we put in this season. We are very happy. We are a hard-working and humble squad.”

It was also a special accomplishment for former Benfica and Wolfsburg defender Alex who despite not playing in the final was a big part of the young club’s success this season. The 33-year-old captained the squad and is credited with mentoring many of its good young players.

“This was a hardworking squad, with a great amount of personal quality as well who were always well prepared for its opponents. What I often said to them was not always what they wanted to hear, but they never backed down from adversity on the pitch. I will always cherish this squad in my heart. It was a great pleasure and privilege to captain Vitória Sport Club in a year that will live on forever,” Alex said after the win.

Related Posts:

TRANSFER WINDOW: Several Premier League Clubs Chase Vitória de Guimarães Striker Amido Baldé

FC PORTO: Dragões Sign Ricardo And Tiago Rodrigues From Vitória de Guimarães

MATCH REVIEW: FC Porto Defeat Benfica To Go Top Of The Table

MATCH REVIEW: Benfica Lose Europa League Final On A Late Goal

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Benfica defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-0 on goals by Eduardo Salvio and Lima to take another major step towards winning the domestic title this season. Jorge Jesus’ club overcame a resurgent Sporting side to remain four points ahead of rivals FC Porto in the Liga ZON-Sagras.

Benfica fielded a regular first-choice squad with Oscar Cardozo and Lima in the striker roles in front of a sell-out crowd at the Estádio da Luz. Jesualdo Ferreira’s Sporting side were hoping to build on some positive performances but they were without the services of right-back Cédric Soares.

Ferreira continued to put his faith in youth by placing Tiago Ilori, Andre Martins, Bruma and Eric Dier in the starting line-up. Ilori was solid in central defence, while the three-man midfield of Rinaudo, Martins and Dier gave Benfica trouble all night.

Sporting began the match well, with early chances by Bruma and Wolfswinkel. Benfica struggled to find their rhythm, as Sporting consistently looked dangerous going forward.

But it would be the home side that would break through. Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo delivered a cross-field pass to Nicolas Gaitán on the left side, who then quickly crossed it to an on-coming Eduardo Salvio for the opening goal of the match.

Sporting responded well but were unable to tie the match before half-time despite being the better side in the opening frame. In the second half, Sporting continued to press for an equalizer. In the 75th minute, Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan, in a brilliant display of skill alluded two defenders, before passing it to Salvio who delivered a brilliant volley to Lima for the second goal of the match.

The match was not without controversy, as is usually the case when Portugal’s Big Three play one another. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was brought down by Ezequiel Garay in the box midway through the first half when the score was still 0-0. Replays show that Garay did make contact with Wolfswinkel, who still managed a shot on goal.

Sporting manager Jesualdo Ferreira, as well as several players complained after the match about the officiating of Joao Capelo. “I am not saying that the official influenced the result, but in my opinion they were not impartial,” Ferreira said after the match.

“It is not easy for a manager to say that his club was better than the one that was victorious, but this is truly what happened. Benfica is a better club, they have more experience, they are higher in the standings than Sporting, but today we were better,” Ferreira said.

“We controled the most dangerous supply lines of Benfica, we took control of the match, we pressed high up the pitch and we caused the defence problems with our quick attacking. At the minimum, I think we were penalized by the result.”

“With only two shots, they created two dangerous opportunities and capitalized on them. In those situations, we were not good enough and they won as a result.”

On one final note, Sporting’s Eric Dier left the match in the second half with an injury. After being evaluated on Monday, it was determined that he suffered a contusion of the left rib cage instead of a fracture. Dier will receive treatment and be out indefinitely.

Benfica will go into the second-leg of their Europa League match-up against Newcastle United with a two-goal lead on aggregate. Jorge’s Jesus’ club managed a 3-1 victory over Newcastle on Thursday night in Lisbon, which means they will go into next Thursday’s match at St. James’ Park with a comfortable lead.

Benfica were without winger Eduardo Salvio who missed the match with a knee injury. Promising midfielder André Gomes made a surprise start in the left side of midfield for the Águias. Oscar Cardozo played upfront, with Rodrigo and Nicolas Gaitan on the wings.

Despite the final score line, it was Newcastle that started the match with greater energy. They were rewarded when Moussa Sissoko crossed the ball into the box to Papiss Cissé who struck it into the wide-open goal. The English side continued to press after going one up.

But in the 25th minute, Oscar Cardozo struck a hard shot from distance which Newcastle Tim Krul stopped but was unable to hold on to. Rodrigo quickly grabbed the rebound and scored. This was the break that Benfica needed.

In the second half, Lima took advantage of a defensive mistake by Newcastle Davide Santon to put Benfica ahead. Soon after, Newcastle’s Steven Taylor handled the ball in the box and Benfica were given a penalty.

Oscar Cardozo scored on the initial attempt but it was waved off due to obstruction in the box. His second attempt was successful and Benfica had a comfortable lead with just under 20 minutes to play in normal time. Benfica held on to a deserving win.

“We are in the quarter finals and every club here is playing at a high level. Newcastle started well and they took advantage of a mistake by us, but we responded well and we deserved the win,” Rodrigo told Sic television.

“Nothing is decided. We still have to play one more match that will decide everything. We have a good advantage but we need to play like its 0-0 and win again. We will maintain a winning spirit, regardless of the result of the game.”

Jorge Jesus’ Benfica side earned a well-deserved 3-2 victory over Ligue 1 side Bordeaux on Thursday to earn a place in the quarterfinals of the Europa League where they will face Newcastle United.

With injuries to Luisão and Ezequiel Garay, Jesus was forced to use Jardel and Roderick Miranda as Benfica’s central defence pairing. Strikers Lima and Oscar Cardozo began the match on the bench, with Rodrigo playing upfront.

Jardel justified Jorge Jesus’ confidence in him by scoring the opening goal of the match in the 30th minute. Benfica went into half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead on aggregate.

In the second half, Jardel misplayed a long ball which Bordeaux’s Malian striker Cheick Diabaté was able to capitalize on, giving the French side a glimmer of hope. But it was short lived.

Just a minute later, Nicolas Gaitán found Oscar Cardozo in the box. After getting past a defender, the Paraguayan slid it past Bordeaux goalkeeper Cédric Carrasso.

After an own goal by Jardel, Cardozo scored his second of the match two minutes into extra time, sealing the victory for the Portuguese side.

After the match, Jorge Jesus said that Oscar Cardozo’s introduction into the match in the 66th minute for Rodrigo was the decisive moment. Jesus also spoke about his decision to rotate his squad this season.

“It has been the Europa League where we have used the most regular starters. The response from the players who have not played regularly has helped alot. It is not me, I believe in the players who play for me and especially what they are capable of,” Jesus said.

Sporting Braga earned a deserving win over Benfica in the semi-finals of the Taça da Liga competition on Wednesday night. Former Benfica goalkeeper Quim was the hero, stopping penalties by Luisão and Nicolás Gaitán to lead Os Guerreiros do Minho to victory.

Benfica’s Roderick Miranda also missed a penalty as Braga advances 3-2 through a penalty shoot-out. Braga Manager José Peseiro, who had come under fire recently after some poor results, spoke to the media after the match about the importance of the victory.

“It was a deserving victory. Considering the opportunities we created during the match, we could have won it in the 90 minutes. But we are happy to have won it on penalties,” Peseiro said.

Man of the Match, Quim who played for Os Águias between 2004-2010 said that this was a team victory. “It was not me who won, it was the club. A goalkeeper needs a little bit of luck, I helped the team win but this is Braga’s victory. That is what should be emphasized,” Qium told television station TVI.

The victory was overshadowed by an injury to Braga and Seleção striker Éder who left the match in the late stages after getting tangled up with Benfica defender Luisão.

Portuguese daily Diário de Notícias is reporting that Éder has suffered ruptured ligaments to his right knee and will be out 4 to 6 months. The loss is significant for Braga who are trying to overtake Paços de Ferreira for third place which would mean a chance to qualify for the Champions League.

The loss is a significant one for Paulo Bento’s Portugal side also who hope to regain their form after a number of poor performances. Although, the 25-year-old is yet to make his mark on the Seleção , this injury leaves Bento with fewer options off the bench.

Braga will now play either Rio-Ave or FC Porto in the final on April 14th in Coimbra. The two sides were scheduled to play their semi-final on Wednesday but it was cancelled with no reschedule date announced yet.

The Taça da Liga is one of two domestic cup competitions played in Portugal every season. The other being the Taça de Portugal . The competition was first introduced in the 2007-08 season. Benfica were the four-time defending champions of the tournament before Wednesday’s result.