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Thursday, 19 July 2012 16:21

Benfica bid Mantorras farewell

Eusébio also present on night of celebrations

A who's who of world football over the last two decades gathered at the Estádio da Luz last night, as Benfica took on an XI selected by Luís Figo. The night also saw the Eagles bid farewell to Pedro Mantorras, one of the club's true fan favourites in recent memory. 

Benfica B off to winning start

In the evening's opening attraction, Norton de Matos' Benfica B team made their debut at the Luz, defeating Beira-Mar 3-1. Former Benfica forward Javier Balboa put Ulisses Morais' men ahead from the penalty spot after 65 minutes, but three late goals from David SImão, Seydu Sow (OG) and Hélder Costa turned it around for the youthful home side. 

Eusébio returns to the Luz

Before the second match got underway, the 33,000 in attendance greeted the returning Eusébio, who after suffering a stroke in Poland during the European Championships has recently been discharged from hospital in Lisbon. O Rei appeared in good spirits, and was rewarded with a standing ovation. 

After that, the festa began. A Benfica team that bore a similar resemblance to that which has competed in the pre-season thus far faced off with a revolving door of footballing greats: Fernando Couto, Fabio Cannavaro, Luís Figo, Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke were just some of those who laced up the boots once again.

Rui Costa and Mantorras himself, who received an award from Benfica President Luís Filipe Vieira, turned out for both teams before the night was out. But the star was perhaps Edgar Davids, who treated those present to a variety of tricks that were rarely seen during his playing days. 

Benfica's pre-season has gone well so far, with a 2-0 victory over Marseilles, a 3-0 win over Hamm Benfica, and a 0-0 draw with Lille the result of their trip to France. 

Although the result of this latest encounter will hardly be of any lasting consequence, it was no surprise to see Benfica run out easy winners: 5-1, to be precise. Ola John, Rodrigo Mora (2), Mantorras and Hugo Vieira were on the scoresheet, with Yorke netting a consolation late on. The night raised over €330,000 for charity, and provided a worthy close to Mantorras' career - blighted by injury, but undoubtedly memorable.

Ben Shave 
Comments (9)
9 Thursday, 26 July 2012 22:47
I saw the game against PSV, where we played a good first half and Martins was yet again the best player for us (he looks really determined to make this a succesful second spell at the club!)....but the second half collapse highlighted some key points. We DEFINITELY need a new left back, all 3 PSV goals came from their right flank. Melgarejo is not a left-back at all, he is an attacking wide-player, and although Luisinho looks promising, he is inexperienced at the highest level. I don't want Taiwo though who is shakey defensively...Zeigler or Traore look like the best options being mentioned.

I agree with NJ that the treatment of Emerson is quite harsh, and somewhat puzzling from JJ, given that all last season JJ started him every match even when he made costly errors, and as soon as the season finishes he drops him completely from the squad. Strange!

The second point raised by that second half is that defence in general still looks like our weakness. If JJ doesn't put serious priority into addressing the defensive mistakes of last season, then i fear the same will happen again...we will look great coming forward, but have a shakey unreliable defence that will cost us. Javi Garcia gives everything for the cause, but his protection of the back four is not exactly solid. It is imperative that Garay stays for next season. I get the feeling that if Gaitan is sold, then both Garay and Witsel could actually stay another season. We need to make one big sale this summer, and it's likely that most of us Benfiquistas hope it's Gaitan...he would be the least missed of the players rumoured to be leaving.

Tomorrow's match with Madrid will be a great test for this squad, and whatever the result the match should get us ready and into gear for the new season...
Joao Cancelo
8 Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:46
I recently read that Benfica's teenage right back, Joao Cancelo, could be Maxi's back-up this season. He was extremely impressive against Beira-Mar, and he was very strong offensively in the U-19 euros. It would definitely be great for him to learn under the great Maxi Pereira. I wouldn't mind seeing him stat in home games against weak opposition, but I wouldn't trust him against the likes of Porto, Sporting, Braga, or in Europe.
Mostly on same page
7 Monday, 23 July 2012 15:07
Andre and Jon, I too agree with your thoughts but there are very big reservations still.

I've never been a big Martins fan. He loses his cool which causes him to shoot every time, where he hits the target once in every 100 attempts. He also tends to lose the ball or commit fouls on bad spots on the field.
I admit he has looked very sharp, and should he be able to maintain current form, he'll be an unexpected asset to this club.

I still say we threw Emerson under the bus. The fact remains that we still don't have viable replacements. It would have made more sense having him with the current squad, while maintaining search.
I believe he has now been asked to join training. We'll see how he responds.

We also sold Wass, at a tidy profit, but why? He didn't fit our style of play? He was coming off a very nice year, and I think we might have lost out on something.
If I see Djalo at right back again, I just might go crazy. Still not sure why we even got him. We'll see.

Not a Salvio fan. He's coming off a bad injury and has been told by Atletico, a team that needs players, that he could leave. For me he was a one trick pony. Maxi passed it to him, where Salvio would let the ball run by him through his legs, spin and outrun defender to ball. His best attribute was staying wide and crossing, which I admit we currently lack.

For me Witsel must stay, if we are going to accomplish anything this season. We have replacements for Garay, and Nico, who I think needs to go.
Not a Benfica fan but
6 Friday, 20 July 2012 20:49
What a classy thing to do for a fan favorite, not only by the team but by the fans that showed up to watch and cheer and help contribute to charity.
Some good points Jon..
5 Friday, 20 July 2012 16:23
I agree with most of them, and I too have been pleased with what i have seen from our pre-season matches, even though clearly we musn't take too much out of them. I was impressed with Luisinho at left-back, and he looks a lot more dependable than Emerson. Although we definitely need to sign another left-back and right-back as we are indeed short in both positions.

I am also hoping Gaitan gets sold, as it would bring us a lot of money, and i also think he is over-rated. Most importantly, i think if he is not sold then either Witsel or Garay will have to be sold because clearly Benfica have to make one big sale this summer to balance the books. Witsel is arguably our most important player and would be real hard to replace while Garay was superb last season. So yeah hopefully it's Gaitan who goes and perhaps Man United still have a plan to sign him.

I also hope we get Salvio back at the club, i was impressed with him 2 seasons ago and he worked really well with Maxi down that right flank. He's also got an eye for goal too, and would make a good signing for us. We should try and use Enzo Perez as a makeweight in a cash plus player offer to Atletico. I was excited about Enzo Perez last summer when he joined but was very disappointed in his subsequent behaviour, and even now his body language looks like he doesn't still want to be here...so we should let him leave.

Carlos Martins has been impressive as well and will make a good squad member, being able to replace either Aimar or Witsel. I have never been as critical of Martins as virtually everyone who comments on this site is. He can be inconsistent, but at his best is the classic Portuguese midfielder: technically polished and good at keeping possesion. I also think that JJ has to learn from his mistake last season and ensure Nolito is a regular starter in the team, he makes a huge difference to the team when he's on the pitch and these pre-season games have been no different. We look so much more dangerous coming forward when he's there, and he's miles better than Gaitan imo. Ola John also looks like an interesting signing and will bring us something different.

Lastly in regards to our attack. As usual every summer, the rumours are that Cardozo will leave. But again I don't think he will. Which clubs are interested in him? Fenerbahce, Everton, Dynamo Kiev...I doubt he will leave our club, where he's becoming a legend, to take a clear step-down in quality! I am also hoping Saviola gets sold, I thank him for the service he's given us...but I think it would be better for us (and the Seleccao) if our young Portuguese forwards, Oliveira and Hugo Vieria were given a chance this coming season.

Lots to look forward to next season...FORCA SEMPRE!!!
Benfica's preseason
4 Friday, 20 July 2012 15:10
I've been pretty pleased with Benfica's performances thus far. In my opinion, Maxi, Nolito, and Carlos Martins have been our most impressive players. I've never really been a huge fan of Martins, but he's looked really sharp recently. I also managed to watch Granada a few times last year and he was very impressive.

In the past, he's struggled with sloppy passing and a tendency to shoot on sight, but he's seemed to improve in those aspects in his game.

Pablo Aimar is definitely the more talented #10, but Martins is a good alternative to have off the bench. When he has his shooting boots on, he can be a great goal scoring threat.

As for the transfer rumors, I really wouldn't mind seeing Gaitan leave. He was always hugely overrated. Ola John has shown flashes of brilliance in the opportunities he's been given, so I'm excited to see what he can for us this year. Axel Witsel is arguably our most important player, so he'd be a huge loss if he's sold. Carlos Martins and Matic can play as the #8, but Witsel is, by far, the best option for this role.

I have also read that Oscar Cardozo may be leaving this summer. I know that he has his critics due to his obvious lack of pace, but look at his stats. The guy will consistently give us 15+ goals a season in the Liga. Rodrigo and Oliveira have tons of potential, but they haven't yet proved to be consistent goal scorers.

I read that Nelson Oliveira could be heading to Fiorentina on loan, but that would be a big mistake. JJ likes to use 2 strikers against inferior Liga opposition and Oliveira is better suited to partner Cardozo than Rodrigo. Rodrigo would be better than Oliveira as a lone striker.

Now moving on to the defense. We lack depth at both fullback positions. Luisinho has looked very good thus far, but another quality left back is needed for depth. Melgarejo simply isn't good enough defensively to play left back. Maxi is obviously our first choice right back, but we don't have another right back on the squad. Miguel Vitor and Witsel could play there, but I'd prefer a natural right back.

I've also read that Garay has been closely followed by Barcelona, Milan, and other elite clubs. He was extremely important to us last season, so he'd be a massive loss. Imagine what would of happened if he didn't get injured. We could have won the league, and we could have beaten Chelsea in the Champions League semi finals...

This will probably be our starting 11 in big games:


Liga games:

Great Show
3 Friday, 20 July 2012 13:44
Truely a fun show. Very much an old timers game atmosphere. I loved reading all teh comments form the players involved.
What I found amazing was that 33,000 went to watch, and that in itself makes it special, due to the money raised for a good cause.

Mdot, I actually hope that the B Squads don't dominate the Liga de Honra. If that was to be the case, it would hurt the league further. The mid to lower table teams can't afford to buy those B Squad players in order to improve, and it would damage the Liga de Honra clubs as well. Imagine the Benfica, Porto and Sporting B Squads finishing 1, 2 and 3 in the Liga de Honra. At that point the 4th and 5th place would get promoted. It just looks awful and makes the league irrelevant, in my eyes.
I get killed for rooting mostly for my club, but I will say that I wouldn't want Benfica's B squad to win or dominat the Liga de Honra. It would be awful, for Portuguese futebol.
I for one would have been more comfortable to have the B Squads start at even lower divisions and have them earn their way to the Liga de Honra instead of increasing the amount of teams to a silly amount.
Spain has 20 clubs in La Liga and 22 clubs in the 2nd Div. Portugal with only 16 clubs in the SuperLiga also have 22 in the Liga de Honra. Silly.
I also find it ridiculous that Guimaraes is allowed to field a B Squad. They have huge financial issues and just asked or cut players salaries up to 50%. This is a club that should not be allowed a B Squad. If so, they shouldn't be allowed into the Liga de Honra at all. Clubs that want to field B Squads should actually have tougher requirements.

I know in Spain that Barcelona B finished third in '10/'11 but they were not allowed to get promoted and Villarreal B has also done well. Since Villarreal was relegated last season, it will mean that their B Squad will also have to drop out of the 2nd Div eventhough it finished 12th.
Fernando Mendes
2 Friday, 20 July 2012 04:48
he can't even run anymore,,,is he suffering an obesity?i couldn't stop laughing when i saw him running with ball.LOL..a great match anyway
Fun match
1 Thursday, 19 July 2012 17:30
At the end of the day it was just a fun match to watch. To see the likes of these players back on the field was amazing while bringing in some good money for a good cause.

What a fitting finish for Mantorras, to be surrounded with some of the top players to play the game and to get that final goal. Always felt horrible for how his career was cut short but the guy never gave up and always worked at coming back when many people would have thrown out the towel. Overall happy with how the team looks with 4 matches within 6days.

As for the B-team beating a first division side, I got a feeling that these B teams are going to run a muck within the second division. At the same time there should be some fun surprises. I’m getting Sporttv and hope to be able to follow the second division a bit more this season.

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