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Tuesday, 05 November 2013 12:47

Last-chance saloon for Benfica and FC Porto in Champions League

Portugal’s representatives fight for survival in CL and EL

11834_ori_jorge_jesus_1_.jpgpaulo-fonseca-20131105.jpgBenfica and FC Porto play in Greece (tonight) and Russia (tomorrow) respectively needing positive results to keep their Champions League aspirations alive. It’s a similar story in the Europa League, with Portugal’s three representatives’ hopes of progressing from the groups hanging by a thread.
 
 
It has been a forgettable season so far for Portuguese clubs in Europe. Nevertheless, Benfica and Porto are still in contention for a place in the last 16 of the world’s greatest club competition. Both clubs currently occupy third place in their group. Victory, albeit at traditionally tough venues, would see them leapfrog their opponents into second place.
 
Defeat, on the other hand, for either the Eagles against Olympiacos in Athens, or the Dragons against Zenit St. Petersburg, would all but end their hopes of making progress, and even a draw would leave both clubs in a precarious position.
 
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus will take charge of his 75th match in European competition tonight. He expects a close-fought encounter. “The two teams are at a very similar level, with an attacking game plan that always has scoring goals as the objective. They have technically skilled players who can take advantage of the chances created.”
 
The Lisbon club are boosted by the return to fitness of left-back Siqueira, but striker Rodrigo and ex-Olympiacos midfielder Fejsa miss the trip through injury.
 
FC Porto’s task is no easier. After two straight defeats at home to Atletico Madrid and Zenit, the Portuguese champions are in desperate need of three points in Russia. Without the suspended Herrera, coach Paulo Fonseca has called two young midfielders into the squad, Nigerian Mikel and Mexican Diego Reyes.
 

Europa League

Things are looking even grimmer for Portugal’s club sides in this season’s Europa League. Paços de Ferreira, with new coach Henrique Calisto at the helm, travel to Ukraine with victory needed against Dnipro to keep them alive in the group.
 
Estoril, like Paços, have accumulated just one point from three matches so far, although the Canarinhos can justifiably point to bad luck in three close-fought games. And should Marco Silva’s team beat German outfit Frieburg at home, they will still have an outside chance of advancing.
 
Vitória Guimarães have arguably enjoyed the best campaign of all six of Portugal’s representatives in Europe this season. The northerners welcome La Liga club Real Betis to the Dom Afonso Henriques. Victory will lift Rui Vitória’s side into the qualification places for the knockout rounds, with two matches remaining.

by Tom Kundert
 
 
Comments (2)
Must Wins
2 Tuesday, 05 November 2013 17:02
NJ/USA/SLB
Must win for both Porto and Benfica.
At this point I really don't care how the wins come, as long as they come. If either team should lose, they're done in the CL, which would be horrible.
No excuses, just win.
Poor performance from all 6 Clubs but could be exciting finish
1 Tuesday, 05 November 2013 15:33
Roberto Castro/Canada
All clubs from Portugal this year are underachieving.

Porto- Our best representative of late is showing a lack of experience most likely from there newly acquired coach but also due to the loss of key player, Moutinho and James.If they are to go through then Fonseca will have to show quick adaptation which I believe he is capable of and they team will have to show more grit.

Benfica- A club that holds a special place in my heart. They have all the pieces neccessary to have a good cup run. It all depends on if they can get their key players in Form ( Matic, Lima, John) and/ or if some of the new guys can step up ( any serbian with higher expectations for marcovic, and cavaleiro. Furthermore, Jorge Jesus must make the right calls in crunch time (cough.... cough... last classico).

Braga- Blew it... Should be in Champions league, Did not retain quality player + injury problems ( Eder) or invest in new Portuguese talent which was a reason I and many others became fans. Won't waste time writing more until they return to the way they were last year. We should have a big 4, Huge let down.

Sporting- Should be in Europa at least, They would also be a threat in The Champions league. They are Playing the most Entertaining football this year and I would have loved to see all the young Portuguese talent play and grow in one of these competitions so early in their careers. Maybe we can see them play for sporting next year if they don't sell them all.

Guimaraes- Very good stuff from them. Haven't been able to watch all there games but have seen the highlights and the numbers don't lie.

Estoril- Disappointing... I expected more from them since they look strong in the league from what I have seen.

Pacos Ferreira- Terrible.... what do you expect when you get into europa league and your Amazing coach and best players? Enough Said.

In order for the big 3? 4? 3 1/2? To do well they need good coaching, which I believe they have ( at least good enough to do reasonably well). What they are all missing is a strong core of experienced Portuguese players who been on the team and are not in a rush to leave. This would add the grit they need that comes from loyalty to a club (Moutinho Showed this). and the experience to lead. Sporting Can Achieve This. The last time Porto had this combination they won the Champions league. I wish Benfica did it. Braga showed that with this combination they could do well even with mediocre Portuguese Talent Leading the team with a good coach. Now before anyone gets on my case, I'd like to say I believe foreigners are good for the league but I believe the core of the teams should be Portuguese. Furthermore, Players like Luisao, Pepe, and Alan Who came to Portugal and a young age and in some cases become naturalized citizens can be Just as Valuable but are rare assets. In my opinion it is better for club and country to have young Portuguese talent as a core for our biggest clubs. As for our clubs in the Europa league.... They are frustrating me.... I realize they have budgets but they really need to do a better job of preparing for big tournamens ( especially Pacos). If they want to sell there coach and key players fine but replace them will players capable of competing. Its a hard job but they get paid to do it and not doing it well deserves criticism.

Had some extra time today so excuse my rant.. It was built up for some time now. Enjoy the games look forward to reading all your posts. This is my favourite Football website Great work by everyone at Portugoal.

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