“I think Vlachodimos is not a goalkeeper for Benfica”

“THEhe performances a little gray and the numerous athletes associated with the club largely justify the failure of this season. Many things went wrong and, given the news that are coming out, President Rui Costa wants to punch the table. When changing everything or a lot, like around 50% of the squad, it will be another season of risk”, the former defender of the ‘eagles’ (1992-1996 and 2002-2004), who guided the B team ( 2013-2018).

Benfica, the scepter record holder, with 37, closed the podium of the 2021/22 edition of the I Liga with 74 points, 17 less than the national champions FC Porto, and 11 points for Sporting, second, ‘stamp’ the worst record since 2005 /06 (in championships played with 18 clubs).

“The squad was too extensive, something aged and I think it was poorly chosen. There were two players per position, but the first option was not always much stronger than the second. For example, there were many doubts on the right wing and it was to prove that Gilberto was more consistent than Valentino Lazaro and Diogo Gonçalves”, he illustrated.

Hélder Cristóvão, 51, praised the performances of Alejandro Grimaldo, Rafa, Gonçalo Ramos and Darwin Núñez, the competition’s top scorer, with 26 goals, detecting, however, Adel Taarabt’s “loss of consistency” in the midfield pair with Julian Weigl .

“I think that Odysseas Vlachodimos is not a goalkeeper for Benfica. It takes someone to play more forward and start the construction safely, but I have to admit that he had an excellent season. Central defenders Nicolás Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen had a lot of difficulties to adapt to the championship and to a high block”, he added.

The “tactical metamorphosis” between Nélson Veríssimo’s ‘4-4-2’ and ‘4-2-3-1’ systems “did not help”, as did the line of three central defenders adopted by predecessor Jorge Jesus, with ” many things that were lost or that were never gained throughout the season”.

“When you fire a coach, it’s because everyone has failed. Not only the coach leaves, but also the structure. When taking on the entry of new managers and the attempt to shorten the people who will join the main team, with more solid ideas , there is a recognition by all that, structurally, Benfica did not do well”, he evaluated.

Hélder Cristóvão makes repairs to a quality of play “far short” of the ‘incarnates’, even though they have applied “very well” a “different strategy” at “specific moments” on the way to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, without fear of “being dominated rather than dominating and playing on a low, transitional block”.

“Now, that model doesn’t work for the championship. Besides, changing the chip from one game to the next cost a lot and the team took a long time to give that answer. and Champions League about what the target was, even though they always said it was the championship”, he recalled.

Jorge Jesus and Nélson Veríssimo, each with two home defeats in the I Liga and another in the ‘Champions’, contributed to an unparalleled record since the inauguration of the new Estádio da Luz, in 2003, even equaling the Lisbon record set in 1996/ 97.

“Roger Schmidt is Rui Costa’s bet. Despite being from a different school, it can be positive for Portuguese football. We can’t forget that Thomas Tuchel and Jürgen Klopp are one of the best coaches in the world at the moment. Roger Schmidt drinks a little from that school and we have to give him some comfort. Once the coach is chosen, I am with him 100% and I believe in the ideas he can bring to Benfica”, he said.

Winner of a championship and three Portuguese Cups, Hélder Cristóvão raises “several questions” about the entry of the 55-year-old German coach, who is at the end of his contract with the Dutch PSV Eindhoven and has a principle of agreement with the ‘eagles’ ‘.

“Will the coach have time? I believe so, because there is a two-year contract and the president was hired. Then, will the ‘court’ of Luz give him time so that he can implement his ideas? but there are many changes and it will be a very complicated season. Which competition will give more relevance? In a squad under construction, you can never talk about attacking all of them at the same time”, he warned.

The ex-Portuguese international predicts a “vertiginous Benfica, with possession and playing more than 70% in the opposing midfield” after the second consecutive season without titles, to which the defeats with FC Porto contributed, in the ‘eighth’ of the Cup de Portugal, and Sporting, in the League Cup final, while the juniors won an unprecedented UEFA Youth League.

“Often, [apostar na formação] it’s a necessity. I believe that in my time there was a three- or four-year plan that included a space reserved for young people, but they have to conquer it. This title, which, I speak from experience, Benfica pursued for many years, is very important for club and country, but it will not determine who goes up and stays in the first team. This goes through the player’s readiness when he gets there”, he shot.

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