12 July 2018, 10h00
In the aftermath of the first pre-season match against Napredak, the journalists wanted to know which formation will be the most used by Benfica and if the defensive new signings, Conti and Lema, might be the future centre-back pairing of the Eagles.
We saw Benfica in 4-3-3 in the first half and in 4-4-2 in the second half. You already have the concrete idea about the preferential plan you want for this season? In the next few days, you will favor the two formations to later take a decision according to the team’s performance?
We will favor those two formations in the next matches. Not for wanting to know which one is the best, but for preparing the two formations. Therefore, it will be a stabilization and a consolidation of those two ways of being on the pitch. The formation is nothing more than the disposition of the players on the pitch, but then there is a very own dynamic. Before these formations, there are the principles that our team has. That can be based on 4-4-2, on 4-3-3, on 3-5-2… In fact, we will work on these two tactical dispositions because we want to be prepared for both situations.
After the test in the match against Napredak where you tried out the 4-3-3 in the first half and 4-4-2 in the second half. In which of the formations you see the team more dominant?
The team must be and wants to be dominant in the two formations. The team must enter the pitch, imposed its playing style, force the other team to adapt to ours. A match has 90 minutes and there are moments in which that does not happen. But that is our purpose: that the team is implemented on the pitch to control the operations, that dominates the match and the opponent. Regardless of one formation or the other, what we want to implement is our game vision. In the match itself, there are very specific dynamics. What we want is a fluid game, the ball circulating with speed, the ball going through the three corridors, that the team constantly look free space to attack. That is our vision. All this brings three words that are almost rules: to attract, to free space, to accelerate.
Conti was used in the first half as right centre-back; Lema was used in the second half as left centre-back. Might this be Benfica's future centre-back pairing?
That conclusion cannot be drawn. Having Rúben Dias and Jardel, who were the centre-backs who played the most minutes last year, it is undeniable that we are talking about a pairing with a lot of quality. When we sign any player, what we want is to build a strong group of centre-back, who are prepared for the several competitions, that are prepared for the incidents that usually happen with centre-backs: suspensions, injury and the big number of matches we have. There are 50 matches to play during a season and we must be prepared.
Following the match against Napredak, the difference between a more controlling Benfica and with ball possession in 4-3-3 and a quicker and more direct Benfica in 4-4-2 is due to the players’ characteristics or will be two very different marks in 2018/19?
We want that to be employed in every match and in each one of the formations. The team organized in 4-3-3, which was the way we finished last season, gave us security in the ball circulation, control in the ball circulation and a bigger control over the opponent. Nowadays, we try to be prepared in the best way for the various phases of the game. For that, we must know how we are going to be organized to defend, and when we are defending we must be a compact and cohesive team. When we are attacking, we must realize that we must attract our opponents to a certain space and then attack through another flank, react to the ball loss and when we win it back, to know what to do. We want to play with greater ball circulation, play fast, defend well and these moments of losing and winning the ball are, for us, determinants.
Text: Marco Rebelo
Pics: Archive / SL Benfica
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