As the «hurt» competition approaches, clearer lines begin to be drawn on Benfica’s base eleven for 2022/2023. Among the “undeniables” that carry over from the past season – Otamendi, Rafa Silva, Grimaldo (for now), among others – there are the reinforcements that want to assert themselves and the kids looking for their space.
Against Girona, in the third most serious test of the Reds this pre-season, there was a reinforcement giving unquestionable signs of quality and one of the «Cantarans» confirming all the attributes attributed to him: Alexander Bah and António Silva. O zero zero he was attentive to the individual performances, especially the reinforcements and the young people in the formation and this is the analysis.
First, those who, regardless of condition, showed service. The game against the Spaniards was less showy than the previous two (Nice and Fulham), but even so, it was possible to perceive, from the outset, that grimaldo leaving Benfica will have a serious problem to solve. The Spanish full-back was what is known of him, especially in offensive terms. He has the dynamics well assimilated and works very well with Rafa in the matchmaking game.
As in the previous games, also otamendi returned to show itself at a very solid level, proving that there will be no defensive line «holder» without his presence. Note also for Gilberto, once again. The Brazilian full-back is, at this point, an open book: everyone already knows his qualities and flaws, and the attitude he puts on the field once again made up for some of his weaknesses. But there’s Bah (we’ll be there) to «interrupt» his life.
- Enzo Fernández: He’s going to be a starter «face to face», because he has the qualities to do so. As Benfica’s days go by, more free and uninhibited appears. Against Girona it was he who guided the entire construction of the incarnate game and did so with a lightness in actions (passing, tackling, vision…) that only the most gifted have.
- David Neres: Less brilliant than in the matches played in the Algarve, the Brazilian was «victim» of the reduced space that Girona’s approach brought to the game. Still, he fabricated a danger shot precisely in short space and tried, whenever possible, to speed up Benfica’s attacking actions.
- Alexander Bah: The best among boosters – and all that were used. The Dane’s ability to carry out all field missions is contagious. Safe in defense, it was in the attack that he proved to be a “real” reinforcement for Roger Schmidt’s game idea. Fast, aggressive and with the ability to finish (he scored the second goal for Benfica), Bah brings to the discussion all the ingredients of an indisputable.
- Petar Muse: He had minutes again after a period recovering from an injury and, naturally, he was not able to provoke great sensations.
- Antonio Silva: The words written after the duel with Fulham could very well be plagiarized for this one, although they were already short. The 18-year-old central defender «threatens» to be a serious case in the image of Rúben Dias at Benfica. If the technical qualities are evident, the leadership ability starts to be visible every minute on the field. We saw him giving directions, correcting positions and not being afraid of his own voice. Added to this was an assist for Vertonghen in the eagles’ first goal.
- Diego Moreira: Unlike António Silva, the irreverence of age is noticeable in the extreme. The position on the field is different and the actions that Diego’s football requires are more prone to error, it’s true, but there still seem to be several aspects there to improve for an unquestionable statement. Even so, it is an element with distinct characteristics and «race» is an attribute that stands out, as was visible in Alexander Bah’s goal.
- Henrique Araújo: It was one of the least impressive games for the red forward, but he was close to scoring in the 73rd minute. The crossed shot went wide in what was the most eye-catching action in the 45 minutes he was on the field.
- Paulo Bernardo: It will be difficult to grab a spot on Roger Schmidt’s squad. His talent with the ball at his feet is undeniable, but he still lacks intensity and speed in his actions.