SL Benfica hosted and beat Boavista, by 4-0, in a match for Gameweek 23 of Liga NOS. In front of nearly 60 thousand fans in the stands, it produced a good football, there were good goals, another three points bagged by the eagles… and Rui Vitória used seven Portuguese players in total, starting and finishing the match with five.
As starters, the coach fielded Bruno Varela, André Almeida, Rúben Dias, Pizzi and Rafa, that is to say, five. During the match there were elements swaps, with João Carvalho (he replaced Pizzi at 84’) and Diogo Gonçalves (he replaced Rafa at 70’) being options, therefore, with the eagles finishing the match with five Portuguese athletes, of which four are Made in Caixa Futebol Campus.
Near the end of the encounter, a moment of great symbolic significance: 13 seconds, four passes, with the ball going from Diogo Gonçalves to Bruno Varela, passing through João Carvalho, André Almeida and Rúben Dias.
Rui Vitória as more than once said that the quality is the decisive factor, regardless of the age or nationality, and, at the end o the match against Boavista, he praised this situation.
“These players have been having a huge work capacity and we work these plays [set pieces]. But there are other aspects worth highlighting: the dynamics we had; the way how we conditioned Boavista's build-up; to finish the match with five Portuguese players, four coming from the youth training… They area all values more important than any corner kick”, praised the coach during the press conference.
With respect to the use of seven Portuguese players in a championship match, it was something that had not happened for more than a decade. In fact, we need to go back to the 2007/08 season, in Benfica's triumph in Guimarães (1-3), to find the last time that happened. José Camacho was the coach, being starters Quim, Luís Filipe, Nélson, Petit and Rui Costa. Nuno Gomes and Nuno Assis started the match on the bench, but also played.
Text: Sónia Antunes
Pics: Tânia Paulo / SL Benfica