Benfica are out of Europe altogether after a late goal by Portugal international Danny gave Zenit a 1-0 victory over the Eagles in Russia tonight. 

The defeat, together with Monaco's win at Bayer Leverkusen, means Jorge Jesus' men will finish last place in Group C, therefore not even having the opportunity to compete in the Europa League. 

The Eagles were left to rue missed chances in an even contest, most notably by Luisão, whose forgettable night was made even worse by a late red card. 

"We had the best chance in the first half through Salvio, and could have scored in the second half through Gaitán and Luisão. We conceded the goal in our best spell. We didn't deserve this but it's goals that count," said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus. 

Three improved performances (home and away versus Monaco, and tonight in Saint Petersburg) proved insufficient to recover from a nightmare start to this season's Champions League campaign by Benfica, with meek displays leading to back-to-back defeats against Zenit in Lisbon and Leverkusen in Germany. 

Now in his sixth season at Benfica, Jorge Jesus has guided the Portuguese giants to the knockout stages of Europe's foremost competition only once. 

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  • @antonio/orlando and @Chris

    Thanks guys,

    I don't regret waking up at 4 am and I'll probably do it again to watch Sporting or Porto. I just hope for a better result

    @Andre/UK

    Thanks for your reply and I'm really sorry for being so negative. I obviously hope that I am wrong about my negative comments but honestly It was a horrible game to watch to be honest and I urge you to watch it so you can see why I am being so negative. The commentators actually started saying what a poor quality game it was. It was horrible to see how bad the team has got. I spent most of the game shaking my head wondering why we were so bad. When Jardel got the ball I kid you not, I felt my heart jumping.... I watched Zenit butcher chance after chance in the first half and finally when Benfica got on top, JJ decided that it was time for a little magical tactic change and introduce surprise surprise our secret 'Derley' weapon.... You can imagine that the game went downhill from there and our weaknesses were exposed again (left back, central defence and defensive midfield) but this time Danny took advantage or rather hit the ball straight at Julio Cesar who could not save it.

    The points you made about the president are all valid and quite frankly sad. I understand players had to be sold to balance books but like yo said that doesn't explain selling off players on the cheap and not buying our best Left back since Coentrao was just plain stupid. I was thinking the same thing about Garay myself and also Cardozo. I thought Man UTD wanted Garay? We could have just given him to them and got Bebe and possibly Vidic in return or maybe the wages for Vidic were too high I'm not sure, but surely Garay would have rathered go to Man UTD than Zenit am I wrong. Does anyone know the full story behind this day. It just seems dodgy to me. In regards to Cardozo, yes spot on and I thought the same things that he was exactly what was missing tonight, but instead our best chance feel to Luisao. I'm just wondering, and I really don't know myself, but are you saying that JJ has no control over the players that were brought in? In regards to Fejsa there are massive doubts on his fitness. I've spoken to a few Serbian friend in the know who all say that his career will end early due to constant injuries. I hope they are wrong, but he has been out for some time now.

    Still... with all these hings being said, regardless though this doesn't clear JJ, because I'm sure JJ does have control over picking the team and the tactics and it has been his decision to;

    1. Play a host of bad players (Eliseu, Jardel)
    2. Play players out of position (Andre Almeida, Samaris, Pizzi),
    3. Bring young players in at the wrong time (Leverkusen game)
    4. Change the tactics when the team was at its best (Zenit game).

    I honestly don't mean to be rude, but I'm trying to understand the point your making when you say "but there's also a key point here that everyone's ignoring". Look this is just my opinion, so feel free to debate it, but this is 'one' point which seems to favour JJ's Benfica (and even then you could dispute this because he's had 6 years at it whilst others had 0,1 or 2). There are other factors where Porto's record dominates ours. For instance, in 2011 Porto won the Europa league, their 3rd European title in the modern era (Benfica has none). In 2012, Vitor Pereira's Porto got knocked out in the Europa league by Manchester City, who were arguable the best English team at the time (although amazingly Sporting did beat them). Additionally, unlike JJ, the next year Vitor Pereiras team showed improvement and qualified for the second round losing narrowly to a very good Malaga team coached by Manual Peligrini. Vitor Pereria in his two years won the league twice (the same as JJ in 6 years) with an inferior squad to JJ's, but to be honest, the fact that Vitor Pereira is not at Porto now shows that for Porto and their fans this was not good enough. Last year Porto were in turmoil swapped coaches midway and had one of their worst season in the modern era and Benfica were able to take advantage.

    In Sportings case, you just cannot compare the mis-managed SCP under Godinho Lopes to the changed one under Bruno de Carvalho. Under Gondinho the team was hovering just above mid table the first year he goes and the teams finishes second. They are a totally different club, are clearing the debts now and no one can deny that Sporting are a club on the rise, and this is evidenced by the fact that they are looking like qualifying now.

    Lastly, look I understand your points and I agree that we shouldn't make knee-jerk decisions, but in the case of JJ, I respect all he has done, but despite being given numerous chances he has just not performed to the level which we as Benfica fans should expect over his 6 year reign, and he doesn't look as though he can take the club any further than what he has. We cannot win every year yes, but we also should not come to accept and make excuses for constant failure.

    Obviously I hope that I'm wrong but I guess we will know as the season unfolds

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    A draw would not have been beneficial because then Benfica's destiny would be out of their own hands. It shouldn't really come as a surprise as we've been mediocre all CL season long. JJ giving mixed signals about CL by prioritizing the liga and consequently the team only began taking it seriously when they were hanging by the ropes.

    I would've preferred dropping into Europa , atleast we could've used it to play the 2nd-string players. We did the same thing last year (I think). JJ only deployed a full strength squad once we faced Juventus in the semi-finals. The year before we were constantly rotating players as well and if we didn't make it far this year because of the lack of depth.. so be it. Nothing to lose in that situation.

    But yesterday, they really should have put those chances away. Nobody to blame but themselves.

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  • @Mario Mota

    I'm surprised and quite frankly shocked that you think Guimaraes are title contenders. Honestly I never gave them much thought as I just assumed that their high flying position is just a flash in the pan. I subsequently have't watched them play at all, so in case I'm missing something it would be interesting to know why you think they can suddenly challenge for the title after so many years in the wilderness?

    In regards to JJ, no one can deny your logic about the 9 players being lost but my overall point is that in his 6 year reign his record is average at best with probably two great seasons out of six. I don't blame him for player loses like you mentioned, but can you really defend his tactics and player selections? Does anyone here think that Jardel is of the quality to be starting at centre back for Benfica, or indeed that Samaris is a defensive midfielder or that Andre Almeida is our best option for the left back role?

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • I agree that JJ has blown two titles that we should have had over the 6 years but I think back to the days of the revolving door of managers and I would hate to go back to that.

    As for Guimaraes, for a club that was nearly bankrupt a few seasons ago, they've really turned it around. They played very well against Porto and bent over Sporting. With the 3rd best goal difference (only 4 behind #1 Benfica), I think they could pull off a season like Braga. Where I think they may have a shot at the title comes down to some of your points I agree with - our current squad in not as strong as before and IMO Porto's squad has been over hyped and they have struggled more than expected in our Liga. Porto coming top of their CL group could get them a good draw in the next round giving them a real hope of making the quarterfinals which is big money. That could result in some points sacrificed domestically. With Vitoria not playing in Europe or the Taca, they can stay focused and put up a good fight.

    As much as I want to see Benfica win the title, I truly enjoy when there are more than 2 teams in the title race. So part of me is hoping they pull it off what Braga did, come a close 2nd to us coming first ;)

    As for some of the new players. Samaris is not living up to the hype, others that had less hype such as Talisca are stepping up. Curious to see how this squad looks after a few more months of playing together. How they've played the past few games is already very different over the first few games. Time will make our team stronger, so the longer we can stay around the top spot, the higher odds we will finally get into a good flow.

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  • Steve, much respect for your objective points. I've said enough about JJ and I think everyone knows how little I think of him. On the flip side, the longer Benfica want JJ in charge, the better it is for me as a Portista.

    Your points are accurate. JJ not only selects the teams, but LFV goes out and buys guys like Samaria and Derley AFTER JJ has already shipped off stud's like Bernardo and Cavaleiro.

    I think Fejsa is actually an excellent DM. He was solid when I saw him playing last year. But as you say, injuries are the problem. I feel like Benfica would have been fine this season if they tried keeping Cardozo, promotes Stevie Vitoria, Bernardo, Bebe and Cavaleiro. Joao Cancelo should also have been kept.

    But because JJ shut these guys all out of the team, LFV went out and bought the Samaris and other prospects. If anyone doubt's LFV's ability consider that he got Matic from Chelsea for free and sold him back in 18 months for $25 million.

    Consider also that he sold Markovic, who is at Liverpool doing nothing for $20million. The Garay deal was deflated on purpose because there was a 3rd party that was making money on the deal. LFV has done great work. His biggest error has been backing JJ.

    Either way, the rest of the Liga year will be entertaining.

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  • Guest - Chuck

    I am a little disappointed in the fact Benfica will not be playing in any European action this season. However, I am more concerned for Nelson, Bebe, Pizzi, Guedes, etc. Since Benfica will have about one game a week, there will be no incentive/need to rotate the squad. These players will get little to no playing time in the Liga/Taca (maybe the Taca da Liga) when I believe players like Bebe and Nelson could be great assets (instead of Derley). Talisca has been in great form, but I wonder why Benfica bothered to buy Bebe anyway.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    A few add-ons: Chris you always try to drag me into this "who's better, VP or JJ?" debate, lol! It's all a matter of opinion of course, but I think what is more objective is the fact that not too many people (who aren't Portuguese of course) are very familiar with just who Vitor Pereira is at all, such has been his total disappearance! Most football fans around the world are at least somewhat aware of who Jorge Jesus is though. We could argue all day who's better, but there is no question who is more renowned around the world. Now don't get me wrong, I am not at all implying that being more known means you are better (that ain't my opinion at all in any walk of like), but still if VP is such a great coach as you always sing about, where is he now?

    Yes he did well to win 2 titles, yes he won them both in 2 years as opposed to JJ in 5 (yes FIVE years, not 6 as you keep claiming, this current season is his 6th at the club). Also by the way, Hulk didn't leave the first year as you claim, he left in the second year. However in both those seasons, VP was clueless in Europe, sorry but that's a fact. Crashed out of the CL group in the first year, dropped to the EL where they immediately got thumped by Man City. The next year they qualified for the oitavos but went out quite tamely to mighty Malaga! Stop blaming it all on Defour, you're doing what you accuse Benfica fans of doing and just making excuses for losing. It can't be argued that JJ hasn't made an impression in Europe, this is the first year in his 6 where he won't be making at least the quarters of European competition and has made 2 finals, which is clearly why he's more renowned outside of Portugal than VP is, he's actually made an impression outside of Portugal. So we've reached our usual impasse my friend, but that's alright lol! This is all mostly just friendly football discussion, I've got much more important things in my life than how well Benfica do on a football pitch, and I'm sure it's the same for you!

    Steve/Australia: I stand by my point mate! All this criticism here and on other sites on how JJ has only made the knock-outs of the CL once, but that one time we reached the quarter finals, the only Portuguese team to have done so in the last 5 years. To me the quarter finals of the CL is what can be considered a deep run, it's where the final starts to get in sight and people start to take notice. And neither Porto nor Sporting have reached this far in the CL during the JJ era, so is his record indeed so bad for the standards of Portuguese clubs in general?

    Don't get me wrong man, JJ has got flaws, but I agree with Mario Mota that stability was needed at Benfica after many years of revolving doors of coaches and no success at all. In the last 5 years Porto have had 6 coaches and Sporting 8 or 9, yet to repeat neither has gotten as far in the CL in this time and neither has been involved in 2 European finals. When he first arrived at the club, Benfica were really becoming a forgotten team outside of Portugal, ranked something like 25th in the club rankings, they are now ranked 5th and Benfica has recaptured some of it's old billing. Most importantly things have changed domestically where Porto are no longer the dominant force that they had been since the mid-90s. Things are a lot more even nowadays, and to not give JJ any of the credit for this is naive or simply unfair. Anyways chaps, as always time will tell and we shall see what happens by the end of the season. Cheers!

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  • I'm still gutted over this Champions League campaign. Frankly I keep going back and forth on it, since I feel this Benfica's poorest team from the last few years.
    I like JJ thought this group was wide open but;
    - Zenit really should have a bit of the edge due to experience, quality and location (used to heavy travel and weather)
    - Benfica haven't played well, even while remaining tops in the league.
    - Monaco lost some of its luster due to transfers.
    - Leverkusen have been so so in the Bundes

    The fact is that I saw the Bulgarian Champions Ludogorets giving its all verse substantially better clubs, and holding their own on effort and set up alone. I've been a JJ supporter since I think that he's been our stabilizing force, along with Luisao. JJ's also been accustomed to the heavy turnover, while remaining relatively successful. Successful enough (?), is an argument worth having.
    Benfica has enough history and gravitas to entice a "top" manager, but the constant needed turnover does put anyone at a disadvantage. That would make anyone a bit nervous to come on.

    The fact is that we've been poor verse the top teams in Europe, and have played well with the secondary level of clubs. I for one don't mind being out of Europa this campaign, since it's loaded with more clubs that want it then not. We haven't shown to have quality or grit this campaign.
    With Europe done and dusted, we can also expect Enzo to leave along with probably another. For me JJ is going to have to clean up play tactically and see more of an effort. We wine the Domestic Trebble, and fans will want the same this campaign, with Europe failure.

    For those who still whine about the missing Portuguese talent, please point out who Benfica has missed on who's left. Andre Gomes, doesn't count since we got plenty of money for him. Waiting?

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  • @Ed Gomes

    Hi Ed,

    Re: Benfica and Portuguese players

    I enjoyed your thoughts on the game, so I don't want to sound rude when I say this, but the first thing I have learnt about a complicated problem/question is don't try to simplify it. We all have bias when we write our opinions here, I'm not claiming to be right, as ultimately I know, what I right is just my opinion based on my worldview, so to turn this subject into a two line prove me wrong statement (this is a common tactic used by Politicians and Public relations people btw) might win you the argument but you are no closer to the truth. Why? Because in my opinion, to get to the truth, you need to let go of bias and open a discussion so that everyone can pool their knowledge, thoughts and opinions together and learn from each-other and possible get closer to the truth.

    So here's some questions, which I think might add context to this issue, which you may or may not want to address;

    1. Here is a list of foreign players in recent times who were given a chance (at least full season) and failed;
    Melgarejo
    Emerson
    Nolito
    Bruno cesar
    Roberto

    2. It is a known fact that if you know that your boss or employees believe in you then you have a better chance to succeed because the belief and trust give you confidence. If you do not have this trust then you can become nervous when playing and not fulfill your potential.

    3. Firstly name any Portuguese players who have been given a chance over an extended period of time to prove themselves?

    4. Here is a list of players who were top of the league before coming to Benfica and not rot in the B team or as un-used subs.
    Steven Vittoria
    Bebe

    5. Nelson Oliveira was the star of the youth world cup along. The other star was Oscar at Chelsea who got games and developed. Nelson is still rotting on the bench.

    6. Jose Mourinho, the best Portuguese coach has even criticised JJ and his inability to develop Portuguese talents.

    7. It was so obvious that Bernardo Silva had something special but last year he was rotting away at Benfica, but now he’s being called the new Messi at Monaco.

    8. Initially even Coentrao, didn’t get a run and only did when someone got injured. But one might argue that he got his chance because the left back position has been the problem position for Benfica. He took his chance by staring straight away, but he’s one of the best player to have come out of Benfica in recent years and yet even he wasn’t given a chance.

    9. The fact that we got money for Andre Gomes has nothing to do with this argument. The argument of most here is that JJ and Benfica does not play Portuguese talent and Andre Gomes was another one that hardly got a game, but is now a star at Valencia.

    The bottom line

    Foreign players are brought with the intention of being sold for big dollars. This is how the club works. I'd even guess and say that these players could already be on scouting lists from England and other top leagues, but are not brought by them because their foreign players quotas and conditions are a lot harder than Portugal. So for profit reasons foreign players get an extended run in the first team. Not because they are better than Portuguese players, but because the club needs a return on them and Argentinians can return top dollar. They might not start that well (Rodrigo, Gaitan even Enzo etc.) but they’ll get played until they hit form to be sold. Foreign players know they will get played repeatedly and they have less pressure because of this factor, but the opposite can be said of the academy ones who know that even the slightest poor display and might mean their last game for the year. Because Portuguese players like Coentrao know they need to have to do something amazing to get a game.

    So to directly answer your question

    None, however there are not many players that can come back from not being played. Young players need games to develop. They need to be believed in. Confidence can easily be lost. I remember reading an article about Messi and how he almost came to Australia and how experts suggested that if he had of he would not have become a world star. This is because potential is just one factor to becoming a great player. You need the team/manager to believe in you, experience in the first team, belief in yourself, confidence, etc.

    Thanks steve

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Steve, much respect. You are living the life of an objective philosopher and asking the tough questions. In truth, the issue of Portuguese players is also a sore spot for me as a Portista.

    I kne

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