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Saturday, 09 November 2013 23:05

Benfica 4-3 Sporting

Tactical notes from the Luz

SLB_SCP_SLB_Goal_1_1.jpgRichard Cole has already brought to you everything that happened in the absolute cracker of a match that was last night's derby. Vasco Mota Pereira pitches in with some tactical facts.

1. Jesus finally gives in

In a match that confirmed Jorge Jesus' latest change of heart as far as tactics go, Benfica appeared in 4x3x3 (even though Jesus himself denied it in a press conference earlier this week). The 4x3x3 formation now seems to be Benfica's default option against strong(er) teams, after being often overrun through the middle over the past years. Although the coach was always reluctant to adhere to a more conservative approach, both the match against Olympiacos and the match against Sporting offered a Benfica more capable of controlling proceedings.

Jesus might have a point when he claims that this formation is not a 4x3x3 (at least, not the purest one). Gaitán, nominally deployed on the left wing, often drifts inside, while Markovic seems to have clear instructions to come to the centre whenever Cardozo gets the ball with his back to goal. That move is further compensated by Enzo Pérez' lateral movement to the right, so as to stretch the play. All of this is capped off by Cardozo's impressive ability to offer the right passing option at the right time, allowing the team to progress while he holds the ball upfield. Without it, this particular game plan would be that much harder to implement successfully.

However, it's Ruben Amorim that may be the most important cog as far as match control is concerned, by playing out the simple pass and always being present to make the necessary interception as soon as the team gives the ball away. Arranged like this, Benfica look more the part of an organised, dominant side, rather than repeatedly betting on the "vertigem vertical" - literally vertical vertigo, as André Villas-Boas would put it.

2. André Martins is being played out of position

If you just kept your eyes on André Martins up until the moment he left the field, you would probably think that you were watching his game against FC Porto a few weeks ago - if it weren't for the red shirts, of course. Once again Sporting coach Leonardo Jardim insisted on deploying the young midfielder as a no.10 off Fredy Montero, rendering him virtually useless in a position where the player is not particular proficient. 

The carbon copy of his display went as far as repeating the timing of the changes: After a whole half of wandering somewhere upfield, it was when he dropped back and Adrien Silva finally broke the siamese pairing with William Carvalho - in the second half - that Sporting looked more dangerous. It should be clear by now that Martins is not the perfect fit for the rarefied environment in front of his opponent's penalty box, against centre-backs and holding midfielders. His game improves exponentially as soon as he has team-mates to combine plays with and is facing towards the other team's goal, and not the other way around.

Given that Sporting are constantly being run over in the centre (much like their cross-town rivals were) against stronger teams such as FC Porto or Benfica, it might not be a bad idea to allow the 23-year-old back into the midfield fold - both for his sake and the team's. As it was, Sporting struggled to break through Benfica's defensive wall and to create any significant chances from open play for as long as Jardim insisted on his seemingly outdated system.

3. The privilege of being wrong

Sporting have looked weak in the middle throughout the season. That much has been plain for everyone to see in several matches, and even more so at the team's first real test, at the Dragão a few weeks ago. That is indeed one of the reasons why the Lions always seem more at ease when they play away from home, where the opponents are a bit more open and willing to get a positive result other than a draw based on bus-parking and time-wasting.

Last night's match offered yet again clear evidence that the team struggle to create opportunities from open play, particularly when Adrien is asked to help William Carvalho patrol the midfield area and André Martins is left ostracized up front. All of this means that the centre-backs (not the most technically gifted players to start with) often have to resort to long balls to the hard-working Montero, bypassing their own midfield altoghether.

What's worse, this forces both midfield and defence to keep readjusting over and over again as soon as the team give the ball away - which usually doesn't take that long, since Montero hardly has any support near himself. Here Sporting once again found themselves trailing early on after some poor defending, found a way to level the score only to concede a second goal just moments later. The third goal would soon follow in both matches after a less than perfect transition into defence.

Below you will find some images that may help understand where Sporting's biggest problem seems to lie, starting with the first goal.

In a normal run of play, Sporting are already in a numbers-down situation.
The circle represents the area of 
constant problems for Sporting.
Markovic intelligently drags Rojo and Jefferson from position.
As above, even the referee seems to have a better understanding of the best positioning.
Again, the circle stands for the most important area in football, one that Sporting keep neglecting.
Notice Rojo's feet, still pointing the wrong way.
A few precious seconds have elapsed and not only is Rojo still adjusting his position,
but Maurício is also wandering elsewhere.

The second goal was a little less obvious, but a more thorough analysis shows how far Sporting's defence (let's leave the central midfield area for a while) lags behind FC Porto or Benfica's, for instance.
The initial deficient positioning stems from an aerial duel.
Enzo Pérez wins the second ball back and Sporting immediately look out of balance.
Maurício comes out to pressure Pérez, Piris is on Gaitán, while Jefferson and Rojo
are both marking Markovic.
Instead of readjusting accordingly, Jefferson and Rojo's reference is the man,
rather than the zone.
Markovic once again drags the same two defenders as before with his simple yet intelligent movement.
There's no attempt to control the space.
By now, both Rojo and Jefferson are hugging the goal line and Cardozo has all the time to pick his spot.

by Vasco Mota Pereira
Vasco runs http://aboladovasco.blogspot.com/ 
and http://combinationplay.blogspot.com/, two blogs exclusively about football.
Comments (20)
Portuguese Futebol..
20 Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:17
Jorge Nuno / Tuga
1st and foremost,Why would the presence of Sporting's President in the bench be a matter of conversation? (do you even realize the shells ur walking on? LFC and PC did it too, and it is allowed, so "he doesnt belong there" is plain stupidity).

2nd, Very good tactical analysis, i would add that JJ isnt that of a stubborn person, at least when it comes to use 4-5-1 (not "4-3-3"), he did it when they won the Championship, with Saviola getting wide and Ramires closing down in the center while defending, making the opposite while attacking, Saviola becoming the "False" Striker, and Ramires opening up the game on the right side. (thats actually the tactic that FCP always used, and the very same as Sir Alex Ferguson used on most of his harder games), the key is to use only one pure striker (or at least playing as one), and use 2 wingers where one of them isnt just playing as such but rather attacking as inside forward and defending as a mid winger)

3rd. Ref. Portugal in the the last decade dropped 10+ spots in corruption Lists (only being surpassed in the EU by Italy and Greece), and since 1982 Porto got the biggest part of their titles (22 Leagues out of 33, 12 Portuguese Cups out of 16 and 20 Supertaças out of 20), you really want to discuss corruption or bad decisions? (i'll give you some hints on this subject, stay tuned for what Romenians are saying about Pedro Proença, read "Golpe de Estádio" and also learn about the connection Platini-Berlusconi-Pinto da Costa-Bernard Tapie).

Jorge Nuno
19 Tuesday, 12 November 2013 04:10

One of the links was of Carvalho at the Luz.
The other was about what took place after the Futsal match. I figure it was self explanatory if you read it.
I also posted a crazy link of a pick of insane JJ during the Derby.

By the way the "Big 3" have always gotten favorable calls. All 3 clubs. Yes Sporting is still part of the "Big 3".

I just hoping for maybe some more constructive comments from some smart fans.
I know Benfica has plenty of crazy's as well.
When will that bubbly feeling wear off?
18 Tuesday, 12 November 2013 00:37
Bubba, we're not that far out from our thinking.
JJ is crazy, and he's got plenty of faults. Funny thing is Benfiquistas kill him.
What's even funnier, or sadder, Sportinquistas are willing to accept anything as long as they are winning. Put yourself in my shoes if I was screaming how great JJ is when we're winning. Or if I was defending LFV when he makes idiotic statements about fans traveling to away games.

I understand that Sporting fans have been starving for success, but that shouldn't undermine decorum.
When will punching bench seats and yelling at refs become too much?
I get it that a true fan as taken over the club, and I for one respect that. But Carvalho didn't come in as a manager or coach. Sporting Clube de Portugal is an iconic brand and an integral part of Portuguese futebol. I'm not saying be stuffy or imperial about it. There should be some decorum.
Again, would you feel different as a fan if Sporting were sitting mid table and struggling.
I don't cut my guys any slack when we win and neither should you.
@ NJ
17 Monday, 11 November 2013 22:51
I suggest branching out a bit in your attempt to analyze sportinguistas. Your family friend is clearly a fan and gets upset when things don't go well for his team, as do most fans. There are rational sportinguistas out here. At times, I consider myself to be one. The problem with us is that we can't forget. Every wrong ref's decision triggers a fight-or-flight reaction in us ("oh no, it's happening again"). This happens when your club is "sistema"-tically prejudiced year after year. When a club "gets" a favorable decision, that's all it is: a favorable decision. During the course of a game, some times you get more than the other side, some times you don't. And over the years Sporting has gotten lots of bad calls go its way. The problem again is one of history, of not just bad or unlucky calls, but flagrantly bad calls, especially in derbies.

A self-declared benfiquista gets "picked" (he was not the original nomination)...for a must-win match for Benfica (if LFV and JJ were to make it to the Christmas break, given the CL results)...against Sporting...at the Luz. And then proceeds to make highly questionable calls in favor of his club. You'll have to excuse us if we seem a bit excitable.

Here's an example of my sanity: Sporting shouldn't be contenders for a while. The last 15 years' worth of administration of the club have left it in financial ruins. The previous strategy of contracting "name" players with high salaries, selling %s of their rights for pennies on the dollar, and then having fire sales in order to pay the rent, clearly didn't work. So the club is left to work with (what always was) it's greatest asset: it's academy. This team is a project--not just this year, but for years to come. The goal is to build stability, rather than turn over the roster year to year. The fact that this squad, with a payroll dwarfed by the "glorioso's", is doing what it is is a minor miracle.

P.S. That article that you liked had to do with the futsal derby, not Saturday's match. If you're going to belittle, at least be coherent. Cheers.
16 Monday, 11 November 2013 21:48
Bubba Zanetti SCP
I'm sorry, but comparing BdC to JJ is just ridiculous. JJ has a very long, long, long track record of acting like a maniac when the cameras are on, and I'm sure when they're off. No comparison.

Lots of comments from Sport Lisboa & Servia's fans about BdC being on the bench. Personally, I love it. You have to remember the mess that Sporting's previous presidents got the club in. There was a massive detachment between the administration and the team as well as the supporters. Management would only appear when things started to get really bad and even then, there was no cohesion between leadership and the team. BdC has completely changed that previously prevailing reality and he has unified management and the team.

Here is a young President that obviously loves the club and has galvanized the relationship between management, coaching staff, players and fans. From all accounts that I've read, Sporting's players love it, Sportinguistas love it and I love it. In my opinion BdC can continue to sit on the bench and support the team. It appears the only people that I have encountered who have critiqued this are Benfica people.

Old Jug Ears at Benfica can sit wherever he wants during Benfica games, I don't really care and IL Padrino can keep rapidly aging away in his emperor's podium at the Dragao during Porto games, to each his own. People can make comments that BdC sitting with the team is not befitting of a President, that's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as long as Sporting is winning and playing with passion and heart when not winning, BdC can sit wherever he wants.
Nobody should get a pass
15 Monday, 11 November 2013 21:33
Benfica has a manager that completely goes off the rails. The guy comes completely unglued and out of control. He was incensed during the CL match.

What I was trying to say, is that Benfica's Manager and President have said and done a ton of stupid stuff. The only difference is that they get called out on it, "BY" Benfiquistas. Sportinguistas are letting the "Maca Podres" get a pass.

Below is a link of a great picture from the derby.


You see, my guy is insane. Just pointing out the Sporting's is as well.
Take it easy with the hostility people
14 Monday, 11 November 2013 19:02
It was a great game and very enjoyable for a neutral. Sporting did an excellent job of battling back and Benfica did a poor job of putting their opponents away early.

I think Vasco's analysis seems to point to Sporting's weaknesses because they ultimately lost. This is normal. Vasco's analysis is one of my favourite things on this site and he normally approaches his work with the same framework.

I personally liked seeing Ruben A's subtle but important contributions and also enjoyed Capel's astounding finish. Great game and both teams should be proud.

As far as the BdC comments, the Benfas seem to have forgotten Maxi's karate kick on Joao Moutinho last season and Jorge Jesus' impersonation of Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard". All due respect, you guys should be the last to talk about composure and violence in those situations. Just saying.

Again great game and hats off to both teams.
@ Z / Canada
13 Monday, 11 November 2013 17:15
Conspiracy Guy
Tin foil is on special at metro, you should buy some for yourself, the tin foil hat you wear is not helping!
It continues
12 Monday, 11 November 2013 15:08
Had to send this in;


If that picture was of Jardim, he at least has the right to be on the field. JJ gets killed for this type of behavior, rightfully so, yet not a peep out of Sportiguistas. Where's the outrage over this behavior from someone that doesn't even belong on the bench.
I wonder what type of comments we would be seeing if this was LFV or PdC or even Rui Costa.

I liked the following article;


Even after being defeated, this is what is being stated;
"Não estamos contentes e vamos analisar a frio. O Benfica lutou, trabalhou, mas analisando o jogo, não me parece que o resultado se ajuste."
The result wasn't just? Lol!

I'm finding it refreshing that the Maca Podres are back in the hunt. Very entertaining.
BDC deserves suspension
11 Monday, 11 November 2013 11:33
Wasn't part of the normal coverage, but do a little digging and you'll see BDC aggressively challenge the refs after game and have to be held back by his own players. Not befitting a president. Couple that with his punching seats next to him in frustration during game and he is looking like an out of control fanatic, not a President. Better get back upstairs where you can rant in private BDC, so people don't see you being a jerk.

Finally ScP is asking for a review of the official's performance. Does that mean they are also asking for a review of the first Alvalade game including the Montero offside goal and the clear missed Penalty call there too? What goes around comes around
10 Monday, 11 November 2013 00:25
I'm glad to see that crazy still is a plenty.
I have a family friend that's a die hard Sporting fan. I'm sorry, Sporting Clube de Portugal fan. According to him the only club with Portugal in its name. Never mind all the regional clubs that have Portugal in their name as does Atletico in the Liga de Honra.
When I watched Sporting matches with him, every call the ref made was wrong. All of Sportings tackles were clean and every foul against them should have been cards. Never mind all the non calls. I always found it fascinating watching a Sporting match with him. That's exactly how I feel when I read some if the posts here. It's incredible.

The analysis wasn't about how Sporting fought hard and held their own. It described how they left themselves open due to tactics, smarts and or talent.
I was happy we were able to exploit it, and only angry we didn't put this one away.

Benfiquistas get called a lot of names and the club gets dragged through the mud. That's usually what happens when you're the biggest club.
But, from my experience, there's no bigger critics of Benfica than Benfiquistas themselves. Benfiquistas have no problem stating their dissatisfaction with the player, manager, etc...

I hope that there's sane Sportinquistas out there.

On a side note, I did chuckle at the critique of the supposed famed Sporting mids. I thought they were all Portuguese Super Stars.
For those who think bringing up Serbs or South Americans would bother Benfiquistas, you're sadly mistaken. Futebol is still a business, and our club and league survives off that business. I'll take anyone that will bring a profit and silverware.

Lastly, Sporting still owe Ellias and others plenty of money. Maybe Carvalho should sit behind a desk more often and write some checks instead of on the bench. For those who scream over JJ's anctics, Carvalho isn't far behind.
Ball to hand?
9 Sunday, 10 November 2013 22:46
Mario / Canada
The Benfica defender clearly fully extends his arm almost at shoulder height to stop the ball. He made a good save.
8 Sunday, 10 November 2013 22:25
I know as a Benfica fan this may sound biased....but sporting scored on their first sniff of the net around 30 mintues into the game. They were soon down by two and it could have been more. When your down by two, a team of some quality like sporting....it was obvious that possession percentage would change. When your up by two...like Benfica was you tend to sit back and wait for the counter...hence you allow the opponent possession which is what happened in the second half. And as we all now with Benfica we cant defend; especially a set piece.

I thought it was a fair analysis.... I thought we were better, but like usual we give it all away in the end, this time we came through though.

As far as serbs go...id take markovic over the entire sporting squad.
Agree with you Z
7 Sunday, 10 November 2013 20:54
This analysis is biased. Why is 3/4 of it pointing out Sporting's so called weaknesses. We watched the game and saw that it was a even 50-50 game where any team could have won. Benfica had weaknesses clearly too because Sporting scored 3 clear and just proper goals as well. And in the end, benfica only won because Rui Patricio had a frango in one of the worst times possible. But these things happen. Sporting played amazing as well and I'm proud of my team! SCP!
(palavras para que??)
6 Sunday, 10 November 2013 20:40
Depois de digerida a frustração durante uma noite mal dormida, o resultado final, foi aquele que eu já esperava, desde que se soube a nomeação de quem iria decidir (Roubarte Gamas) …

Foi pena o Adrien pena não ter começado desde o inicio do jogo, tendo sido , no meu entender o grande culpado (a par de outro, mas já lá irei) do que aconteceu naquela primeira parte…não apareceu, não marcou, perdeu passes, não pressionou…Adrien , durante toda a primeira, não existiu, deixando W.Carvalho com todo o meio campo do Benfica por controlar…depois a partir do intervalo, sim, o Adrien da barba rija, reapareçeu mas o mal já estava (quase) feito…

Depois disto temos…Rojo…pois….por onde comecar??? bem… consegue não ganhar uma unica bola de cabeca dividida, entradas a destempo, faltas infantis, eu sei lá que mais… e ainda durante a semana passada, se pedia que se pusesse Dier ao lado de Rojo?? a sério?? Dier é suposto entrar com alguem que o ensine, não que o faca ficar bronco…se Mauricio, veio da 2a divisão brasileira, Rojo parece ter vindo dos distritais da Patagónia… e sendo AINDA jogador do meu clube, fico-me por aqui…

William Carvalho, aprendeu ontem (com o boi de preto), a diferença entre o nome acabar em IC ou não, qualquer encosto era falta, enquanto o Sérvio estava á vontade para treinar o full-contact…mas deu a ideia de ser ainda um bocadinho macio,(dadas as circunstancias, duvido que o boi o deixasse ser mais viril…)

A. Martins, muito tempo para dominar bolas, valendo-lhe isso o cair em cima dos médios e defesas adversários, não aguentando depois as cargas e subsequente perdas de bolas…(talvez fosse diferente se a cor da camisola fosse outra, talvez o apitador o defendesse mais…), mas como isso não aconteçe, nestes jogos é sempre um elemento a menos…

Piris, um defesa direito, com escola, com classe, precisa agora de melhorar os apoios ao ataque, mas defensivamente, impecável… Mas contínuo a gostar e querer o Cédric nesta posição...

Capel e Wilson Eduardo… bem 1 golo, e uma assistência… Mas e defender? Ajudar os médios??? pois… também faz parte dos jogos, e nestes jogos, precisamos de extremos que também ajudem atrás, e isso ontem com eles não aconteçeu , daí os milhafres terem tido a liberdade que tiveram durante a 1a parte…diferença

Para quem criticou Carrillo e eu já o fiz por vezes….repararam na diferença da equipa quando entrou??? veio atrás, abriu linhas para o Jefferson, depois para o Piris, ajudou atrás, na esquerda, ajudou atrás na direita (onde levou o cartão…) claro que fazendo isto tudo, ás vezes o discernimento há-de faltar, mas, para mim, é mais útil á equipa do quem só ataca e não defende…

Em resumo, (até porque já me estiquei um bocadito de mais…) temos equipa para os jogos médios, desde que mostrem sempre a mesma raca, o mesmo querer…mas contra as 2 equipas do Sistema, nem vale a pena pensarmos nisso, porque, mais do que certo levaremos com um qualquer juiz em causa propria, (um do Benfica, para o jogo com o Benfica e um do Porto para o jogo do Porto), portanto por ai nada a fazer, excepto, fazer como ontem e honrar a camisola…E isso meus amigos estes rapazes estão a faze-lo, como há muito tempo não via…
viva o SCP…

JJ is finally starting to learn
5 Sunday, 10 November 2013 18:59
Sadly, I wasn't able to watch yesterday's match, but I am obviously pleased with both the result and JJ's decision to utilize a more balanced approach rather than his favored 4-4-2.

I agree that Amorim is indeed crucial to the success of a 3 man midfield, particularly a conservative, #10-less 4-3-3. He is not a brilliant footballer by any means, but he's the tactically disciplined, energetic jack-of-all trades type of player who knows how to do all the simple things right.
4 Sunday, 10 November 2013 16:35
Ball to hand penatly dont always get called...and im on the side that they shouldnt ever.

And montero flopping after he got tapped by luisao while his back is turned to the goalie at the edge of the box....are people serious? For real...thats a penalty? Only in portugal would it even be discussion. Im watching arsenal man u right now....i know these games arent with controversy...but players are getting bowled over and they get right back up.... We breed babies in portugal...its embarrasing
3 Sunday, 10 November 2013 16:31
Z Canada
What penalty claims ? Benfiquistas say every game they deserve 3, 4 penalties

this analysis is incorrect, Sporting created lots of clear chances from open play (SLimani post, Slimani missing a wide open header from a cross, etc)

Biased garbage .
Get this a team made up of mostly academy players managed to get a 3-3 draw in the "most greatest expensive Benfica ever" and only lose on a horrible goal

I suggest Benfica buys more Serbians in January if they want to do better in the next derby.
2 Sunday, 10 November 2013 12:07
Nuno Gomes
Not trying to be rude or anything, but although Sporting does have two penalty claims that were not called, Benfica also had 2 penalty claims that were penalties that were not called, and this is not including the moment Luisao scored obviously.

But all in all a highly entertaining game(best I've seen in a long time) with both teams playing at the highest level. That's what football is all about!
you forgot the main tactic
1 Sunday, 10 November 2013 04:44
Z / Canada
You forgot the main tactic that settled this game

paying off Duarte Gomes to be the ref,
missed two penaltys for Sporting

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