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Monday, 11 August 2014 15:52

Artur the hero as Benfica lift Super Cup

Much maligned Brazilian goalkeeper saves three penalties

benfica-supercup-2014.jpgIt may be a very different-looking team, but Benfica started the new domestic season in Portugal the same way they ended the previous one. Celebrating a trophy.

An entertaining game against Rio Ave ended goalless after 120 minutes. Benfica goalkeeper Artur saved three penalties in the shoot-out to give the Eagles victory in the Portuguese Super Cup, the traditional season curtain-raiser.

After a memorable 2013/14 campaign for Benfica in which they lifted three trophies, fans of Portugal's most popular club were left feeling less giddy in the subsequent summer months after seeing their team ravaged in the transfer market. And yesterday's match highlighted why the club's supporters fear so much the persistent rumours about the possible sales of Enzo Pérez and Nico Gaitán. The two Argentines were the two best players on the pitch.

The match at Aveiro's Municipal Stadium was further proof that goals are not a necessary ingredient for a fine football match.

Benfica were the better team throughout, and looked several notches above anything they have produced in pre-season. As well as Enzo's return, the resumption of the first-choice centre-back partnership of Luisão and Jardel gave the defence much needed stability. Of the new players, midfielder Talisca continues to display considerable promise.

Rio Ave were well organised and in Pedro Martins have surely hit upon the perfect replacement for Nuno Espírito Santo as head coach. Martins did well at Marítimo over several years, and after being outplayed in the first half, the side from Vila do Conde created problems for Benfica. New 18-year old Ghanaian forward Emmanuel Boateng in particular looks an interesting acquisition.

Both sides had chances to win it before the shoot-out, Talisca and Lima spurning several opportunities for Benfica, while in the dying moments a Rio Ave corner was deflected onto the underside of the bar by Jardel.

On to a penalty shootout it went, and Artur, who has endured a horrendous pre-season (and who got away with another clamorous mistake yesterday), made three fine stops to receive a much-needed confidence boost and decide the match in Benfica's favour.

Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Jardel, Eliseu, Ruben Amorim, Enzo Pérez, Talisca (Derley, 69’), Gaitán (Ola John, 100’), Salvio (Bebé, 105’+1’), Lima

Rio Ave:
Cássio, Nuno Lopes (Wakaso, 88’), Marcelo, Prince, Tiago Pinto, Pedro Moreira (Diego Lopes, 55’’), Filipe Augusto, Tarantini, Ukra, Del Valle, Hassan (Boateng, 55’)

Comments (3)
We have the quality needed to win cups
3 Wednesday, 13 August 2014 11:39
This game showed that we still have the quality level of players to win matches. If we had just finished one of those chances early, the game could have been very difference.

As for Enzo, I fully agree he's the heart of this team which is why I hope they do everything in their power to hold on to him. That being said, when Aimar, Witsel, Ramires, etc... all ended their times with us, it felt like our mid-field was done. When Enzo came on he didn't look anywhere like a top player to have in our mid-field. While I hope he doesn't leave, Talisca is showing some amazing promise as a plan b.

I would also add that at the start of last season, Lima and Rodrigo couldn't score to save their lives which was why Cardozo was able to get back in. Eventually the two figured out how to play with each other last season. So the goals will come.

It'll just take time to get so many new guys to gel and I just hope it doesn't mean we drop points early on in the campaign. If we can keep a good level of points in the first 2 months, the team will only improve from that point onward.
Great comments Andre
2 Wednesday, 13 August 2014 03:55
Orlando Mac
You hit the nail on the head with every point, although I do like Talisca a lot.. great talent and he will be slotted in like Markovic as a sub-striker/AM so there is room for both him and Enzo.

Unfortunately my gut is telling me that Enzo will be gone also. The 3 players I wouldn't want to leave Garay, Cardozo, and Enzo most likely will be all gone.

I still feel there is enough talent that was bought and we have in our cupboard that can make this a very successful campaign.

Time will tell.
1 Tuesday, 12 August 2014 08:55
Well after quite a chaotic pre-season for the club, it was good to complete the clean sweep of 4 domestic trophies for 2013/14. I believe this was the first time it's been done. The team played very well and should have comfortably won the match way before penalties. Rio Ave were solid and organised, which was good to see as they will be representing the Liga in the Europa League, but Benfica were all over them for the most part and were it not for various wasted opportunities and some great saves from Cassio, it would have been all over before the 90th minute.

Enzo made a huge difference to the team, and highlighted how much we will miss him if this transfer fiasco (so sick of it already!) to Valencia finally gets confirmed, as it probably will. No other midfielder in the squad can replace Perez' influence, so we will need to get another midfielder in to replace him if he goes. Talisca looks promising but he's no immediate replacement for Enzo, different kind of player and way too inexperienced at this level. The wasted chances also highlighted the stupid decision to sell Cardozo, and it's very clear we need to get a new centre forward to replace Cardozo's goals. This match will have been good for Artur's confidence but we still need to sign a quality keeper, no question.

Luisao and Jardel were both solid and I'd be satisfied with that as our first choice CB pairing for the season. Jardel is no Garay but he's dependable and experienced. What a lot of people were ignoring during these poor pre-season results was that we were playing with a makeshift defence, some of whom won't even be in the main squad for the new season. To some of the regular anti-Benfica posters on this site and on other sites I've seen, who were all excited about the poor pre-season the club has had, they mustn't forget pre-season is preparation and friendly matches. Last pre-season was arguably even worse for the club, as most fans even wanted JJ sacked, and look how the team responded in the season that followed. Let's wait a few months when the action has really started to see just how strong the teams are.

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