O Benfica starts the new season next Tuesday, when it receives, at Estádio da Luz, the Danes of Midtjylland, in a 1st leg match of the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League. After a total of five friendly games in the pre-season, Roger Schmidt has been making some cuts in the squad and already has a large part of the starting eleven defined.
The beacon must be handed over to odysseas, despite Leicester’s recent interest in the Greek goalkeeper. The English emblem will be without Kasper Schmeichel, who is on his way to Nice, and will already be in negotiations with Benfica. Even so, Ody should be the keeper of the red goal in the first official game.
On the defensive line there seem to be three certainties and one doubt. grimaldo will be the owner of the left side, even because the reinforcement Ristic has physical problems and showed little in the pre-season. On the defensive axis, otamendi presence is assured and should line up next to moratorium, a Brazilian player who was always a starter in the preparation games and who relegated Jan Vertonghen to the substitutes’ bench, also taking advantage of the injuries of Lucas Veríssimo (recovering from a long injury) and reinforcement João Victor. On the right side is the big question. Gilberto has been the starter, but he is far from charming in offensive terms, unlike the reinforcement… Alexander Bah. The Danish international was in the spotlight throughout this pre-season, with goals and assists, and ‘requests’ the title at the start of the new season.
In midfield, Florentino Luís and Enzo Fernández were showing good signs of synchrony and should be holders. The young Portuguese returned from loan and seems to have conquered Schmidt, leaving Weigl as a substitute, while the Argentine midfielder arrived from River to… take a stake.
further ahead, David Neres and João Mario have been starting bets throughout the friendly games and will hardly be part of next Tuesday’s eleven, even because the competition is far from being tight.
Closer to the opposing goal will be Rafa Silva and Gonçalo Ramos. The former manages to speed up the game like no one else and is always a weapon to fear for any opposing defense. On the other hand, Gonçalo Ramos has been showing credits as a scorer in position 9 and the numbers don’t lie: three goals in four games.
Solutions from the bank
In these accounts there are other names that must be taken into account, even because of the good response they gave whenever they were called. Henrique Araújo and Roman Yaremchuk showed credits in this pre-season period and will always be Schmidt’s solutions, especially when it comes to breaking teams with a lower block.
Diego Moreira and Chiquinho also seem to have the confidence of the German coach, having both participated in all the friendly matches this pre-season.
In defense, note for the good campaign of Antonio Silva at this stage of preparation. The young central player was performing well and accumulating details that could earn him a place in the squad, even due to the injuries of Lucas Veríssimo and João Víctor.
The doubts that remain
By this time there are also many doubts about the continuity of several players. Julian Weigl is one of them and its output will be on the table until the end of the summer. Meite also does not have a guaranteed presence in the squad that will compete in 2022/23, while Gil Dias and Diogo Gonçalves appear to be cards out of the deck.
Paulo Bernardo and Martim Neto also reveal difficulties in imposing themselves in the current group, but here the scenario is quite different. All of them are young and the solution involves a loan that allows them to gain experience and ‘stuff’.
There are still Rodrigo Pinho and Petar Muse. The first was hired a year ago, but was out of action for a long time due to injury, while the second arrived in this market after a good season at Boavista. One of them can leave until the end of the closed season.
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