In the latest edition of the PortuGOAL podcast we tip our hat to Benfica’s fantastic achievement of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals after back-to-back wins against Zenit St Petersburg.

We then take a look at the Liga NOS title race and assess the chances of the three perpetual candidates to lift the crown, Benfica, Sporting and FC Porto, as the 2015/16 season heads towards an exciting climax.

 

 

 

 

 

Related: Benfica march into Champions League quarter-finals!

 

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  • Guest - Ed Gomes

    Fantastic win. That more impressive because it showed the mental fortitude of the squad, due to the fight back after going down.
    I wasn't surprised with Zenit's approach. They played like any other match and turned it on as the game progressed and became more critical. The Zenit goal should have never stood, due to the hit and run on Semedo. The US feed had announcers who call it clean, due to both players going after the ball. It was good to hear pundits mention the obvious foul that wasn't called.

    In my opinion, Raul just hasn't done enough. I was glad to see him having the confidence to unleash the shot. Granted I would have been screaming of it ended up in the stands. I did expect Gaitan to be more influential, but he was there when it counted. I know that it was meaningless, but I was also happy that Talisca netted a goal. He's become somewhat a forgotten man on the squad.
    Congratulations to Vitoria. Two signature wins in a row. Let's keep it going.
    A lot will be up to the draw, but there's no easy matches at this point of the competition. This will be every teams focus.

    On a side note, let me add that I love the BdC rants. He's entertaining and just keeps adding exclamation points to his nuttiness.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    Yet another excellent podcast, guys! Rui Vitoria had his fair share of critics and doubters during the first few months of the season, but he has since proven to be an outstanding coach. Unlike his predecessor, Vitoria is the utmost gentleman and it is easy to see that he is highly respected by all of his players. I definitely prefer Vitoria's class and confidence over the stubbornness and immaturity of our previous coach. He has also been able to gradually implement his own unique identity to Benfica without having to make any drastic or fundamental changes to our traditional 4-4-2. Benfica still defend in two banks of four, Gaitan still primarily operates on the left wing, and Jonas is still thriving in his preferred second-striker role. The major difference between Vitoria and JJ is the former's willingness to promote academy products to the first team. Whereas Jorge Jesus allowed the immensely talented Bernardo Silva to go out on loan to Monaco, Rui Vitoria has shown a great deal of faith in the likes of Renato Sanches, Nelson Semedo, Goncalo Guedes, and Nilsson Lindelof. This current Benfica side is finally starting to feel Portuguese, and that is largely due to Vitoria's ability to mold inexperienced, raw, and unpolished youth products into a extremely promising young talents with world-class potential.

    With regards to our potential opponents in the quarter finals, I would obviously prefer Wolfsburg, but I honestly wouldn't mind Manchester City and Atletico Madrid. Out of the tournament contenders, I would probably pick Real Madrid. I can't see us defeating Barcelona, Bayern, or PSG over two legs. Unless we're drawn up against Wolfsburg, we are definitely going to be the underdog regardless of our opponent. However, I do fear that we are going to be completely overrun if we stick with our usual 4-4-2 set up with a front two of Jonas and Mitroglou. If I were Vitoria, I would opt for a far more pragmatic approach. While our attack-minded starting 11 may have worked against the likes of Sporting and Zenit, Barcelona, Bayern, etc are completely different animals. Therefore, I would utilize this starting 11:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------Jimenez--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Gaitan-------------------------------------------------------------Renato-----------------------------------------------------------------------------Pizzi------------------
    -----------------------------------------------------Fejsa----------------------------Samaris------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Eliseu-----------------------------------Jardel------------------------------------------------Lindelof-------------------------------------------------Almeida
    --------------------------------------------------------------------Cesar/Ederson-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think we would be far more difficult to break down with a double pivot of Fejsa and Samaris. Renato is also more than capable of operating as a dynamic, tough-tackling #10 -- the type of player that is required to disrupt an elite team's build up play by. Renato certainly has the lungs to tirelessly press our opponents #6 (Busquets, Motta, Kroos, Alonso, etc) and he has the attacking characteristics to thrive as a #10, particular on the counter. Jimenez may be a little rough around the edges in terms of his touch and technique, but his work rate is second to none. We need a hardworking, athletic center-forward who is more than willing to disrupt our opponent's first phase of build up play and that is exactly what Raul Jimenez brings to the table.

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  • Nice breakdown, Jon. I'm not quite as shy of PSG as you, though. I think we would match up well with them. The French and Portuguese leagues are pretty similar in that they're both heavy at the top with little to no depth in the middle and bottom of the table.

    Give me Real or Barcelona. Would we beat them? Probably not, but it would be a hell of tie and stranger things have happened in the UCL. Getting through against one of those two would be the greatest moment in Benfica history in who knows how long.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    I'm really not bothered who we get in the quarters. As I said recently, the CL has been a bonus for us and reaching the quarters has been a great achievement considering the shakey start to the season, new manager etc etc. I reckon we will have no pressure at all in the quarters whoever the opponent is, as most people didn't expect us to even get this far. That being said, I think the only two possible opponents that we'd have very little chance of knocking out would be Barcelona and Bayern (the clear favorites for the competition). But we'd have a chance against any of the others imo. Even Real Madrid, who are huge only in name this season, but are definitely beatable. I also agree with Los that we could take on PSG. They would be the clear favorites of course, but that's not to say we couldn't prevail if very inspired. Any of the other 3, I think we'd a very decent chance to beat, if at our best over the 2 legs. So let's see who the draw brings, but I repeat there's no pressure at all because we've already gone futher than most people thought we would and the big priority is the Liga title anyway.

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