Benfica on course for the Primeira Liga title after 4-0 win against Famalicão

Benfica confirmed their title credentials with Pizzi playing a starring role in a 4-0 win against Famalicão at the Estádio da Luz. Carlos Vinícius opened the scoring, Pizzi bagging a brace before setting up Caio Lucas who put the icing on the cake. PortuGOAL's Matthew Marshall thinks the Eagles are near certainties to romp to their sixth title in seven years.

Famalicão resistance futile

Famalicão were compact, organised and difficult to break down in the early exchanges. Roderick Miranda fluffed a clearance that allowed Pizzi a chance, the Benfica maestro given another chance by Adel Taarabt that he volley wide. The promoted club could only try their luck from distance, Pote’s low drive forcing a save from Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Vinícius was being kept on a tight leash before heading Alejandro Grimaldo’s cross wide. Pizzi went on a great solo run and shot straight at Defendi, Franco Cervi shot wide and Rúben Dias headed a corner onto the roof of the net as Benfica turned the screws.

Pizzi forced a fine save from Defendi with a fierce shot before firing another effort into the side netting. Pizzi was stealing the show and it was no surprise when he was involved in Benfica’s opening goal.

Floodgates open

Pizzi dropped deep and found Tomás Tavares who released Chiquinho, the Brazilian playmaker finding compatriot Vinícius with a lovely cross who finished from close range. Benfica started the second half on fire, Adel Taarabt shooting wide before the Eagles extended their lead.

Tavares’ long throw to Chiquinho caught Famalicão asleep, his cross cleared as far as Pizzi who smashed home a left footed volley that gave Defendi no chance. Vlachodimos came out to thwart Toni Martinez but it was a rare moment of danger for the hosts.

Chiquinho’s cross found Tavares who saw his shot deflected wide but was soon 3-0. Chiquinho had multiple options but found the best one, Pizzi controlling the ball before taking a touch inside Álex Centelles and firing into the bottom corner.

The game appeared to be meandering to its inevitable conclusion but there was time for one more. A Benfica fast break founf Pizzi, he released substitute Caio Lucas who cut inside Riccieli and fired home to seal the deal.

Benfica confirm their superiority

Benfica’s victory against Famalicão made it 13 wins from 14 Primeira Liga matches this season. The only blip came in Lisbon in a 2-0 defeat against Porto, their only apparent threat in the Eagles’ quest for a 38th League title. I would argue there is no real threat.

A few things stand out from that game on 24 August, namely Andreas Samaris and Florentino Luís in central midfield and a strike force comprising Haris Seferovic and Raúl de Tomás. Since then Bruno Lage has shown faith in Gabriel Pires and Adel Taarabt who have shown themselves to be the most effective midfield pairing, while Vinícius has risen to be the undisputed starter up front. And how could I forget Pizzi.

Bruno Lage

Bruno Lage replaced Rui Vitória in January and has done a great job, rewarded with a new contract this week that sees him tied to the club until the end of the 2023/24 season. The UEFA Champions League campaign was a disappointment, but a last ditched 3-0 home win against Zenit St. Petersburg provides a chance to win the Europa League.

Lage’s record in the Primeira Liga is impressive, 31 wins with one draw and one defeat in 33 matches. While his team selections in the Champions League have been curious at times, he has shown an ability to set his side up to regularly crush Portuguese opposition.


Benfica’s scouts got a good look of Vinícius when he was on loan at Rio Ave. He went to Monaco on another loan deal before Benfica paid Napoli €17m for his services. It was a sharp piece of business.

I commented on 23 October that Vinícius was poised to take over from Seferovic and Raúl de Tomás as Bruno Lage’s number one striker. He has done just that, and boosted his credentials even further with eight goals and two assists in his last six Primeira Liga matches.


Pizzi has been Benfica’s best player for years and if there was any doubt, he confirmed it against Famalicão. PortuGOAL’s Nathan Motz wrote a great article analysing Pizzi in detail, and in my Portugal 2019 piece I wrote that he should be a starter for Portugal.

His technical ability, positioning, link up play and ability to create a piece of magic out of nowhere make him a match winner. Check out his assist for Vinícius’ opening goal at Boavista if you are not yet a believer.

If there is one major difference between Benfica and Porto it is Pizzi. He is the standout player in Portugal alongside Bruno Fernandes and Fernando Santos surely can’t leave them out.

What we saw against Famalicão was Pizzi’s ability to roam around the pitch which makes him a nightmare to defend. He alternated with Chiquinho in a similar way he alternated with Bernardo Silva in the 6-0 thrashing of Lithuania.

Pizzi has scored eight goals and provided six assists in his last 10 starts for club and country. Porto simply don't have a player anywhere near the quality or capabilities of Pizzi. Unless he picks up an injury, I see Pizzi inspiring Benfica to yet another Primeira Liga title.