Welcome everybody to Sempre Vermelho, which translates to ‘Always Red’ in English. This is a new and for the mean time weekly blog concerning all things Sport Lisboa e Benfica futebol written in English. I aim to keep posts informative and current, however I will also let you know my opinion and analysis on the state of affairs of the team and football club in general.
The 2013-14 season was one to remember for all Benfiquistas out there. Not only were the team able to win the national championship (Primeira Liga), but also demonstrated their sheer determination, capability and superiority by also capturing the Taca de Portugal (Portugal Cup) and the Taca de Liga (League Cup. Thereby, marking an unprecedented treble in Portuguese football history. However, the campaign was bittersweet as SL Benfica lost a second sucessive UEFA Europa League Final, albeit via a dubious penalty shootout to Sevilla of Spain. Reports surrounding the game talked of the Bela Guttman curse, where legendary coach Guttman appeared to have cursed Benfica by declaring SL Benfica will never win a European trophy again for at least 100 years after refusing to award him a more lucrative contract after winning the club it’s second Champions League in 1962. Fifty-two years and eight European finals later it appears he may well have done so.
Therefore, anyone who has a mild understanding of Benfica’s way of doing things knew the club would allow key players depart to other clubs for cash, especially after a succesful season. Not to mention the financial troubles of one of Portugal’s largest banks Banco Espirito Santo, of whom Benfica are around 200 million Euros indebted to. Estádio da Luz saw the departures of Ezequiel Garay to Zenit St Petersburg, Lazar Markovic to Liverpool, Rodrigo and André Gomes to Valencia CF, Jan Oblak & Guilherme Siqueira to Atlético Madrid, Óscar Cardozo to Trabzonspor, Djuricic to Mainz, whilst the futures of Enzo Perez and veteran club captain Luisão continue to be contested by Valencia & Juventus respectively.
Nevertheless, the summer has seen some talent also come in to the Estádio da Luz also, last season’s Pacos de Ferrerira saviour Bebé, left-back Benito, central defender Lisandro Lopez, forwards Nelson Oliveira & Pizzi have returned from loan, wing-back Eliseu from Malaga CF, Brazillian #1 goalkeeper Julio César and highly rated prospect Anderson Talisca have also joined the squad. Although, the squad does not appear to have the same cutting edge of last season, it is still appears talented enough to defend their Liga Zon Sagres away from favourites FC Porto and a resurgent Sporting side. However, long term injuries to the likes of anchorman Fejsa and the possible deparures of Perez, Gaitán, Salvio and long time captain and defence marshall Luisão continue to worry Benfica supporters and coach Jorge Jesus alike.
Despite a winning start at home in the league against Pacos de Ferreira last Saturday, the Juventus/Luisão situation is one that puzzles; as at the age of 33 you would assume Luisão had agreed to see out the rest of his career as Benfica captain. However, despite key departures and public refusal/rejection of Juventus’ interest. Reports have emerged that Luisão’s agent has already agreed personal terms for his player with the Italian club and is simply waiting for Juventus to pay Benfica’s evaluation of 3 million Euros. Should club engine Perez and club ‘giraffe’ Luisão leave the Estádio da Luz this August, this season may prove to be Jorge Jesus’ most challenging yet.
Hopefully the Supertaca capture through a penalty shooutout against Rio Ave, which may well have allowed Artur Moraes to still have a future at the Estádio da Luz, was the first of many trophies to arrive in the hands of captain Luisao and coach Jorge Jesus this new 2014-15 campaign.
Please leave comments in regards to this blogpost and please bookmark, share and all that good stuff. Obrigado & remember to be Sempre Vermelho!