It was 0-2, but it could have been 1-1. Or 2-1. Or 2-2. Or 3-2. Or 2-3. Or even 3-3. The Vizela-Benfica could have ended in different ways, but in the end it was the “incarnates” who triumphed at the end of a match in which the defense showed blood and sweat – and only the posts, Odysseas and the mistake from Vizela saved Benfica from tears .
Despite a very difficult game and the suffering that existed, Benfica’s triumph cannot be treated as casual and unfair. The “incarnates” did their best to win the game and it was João Mário who ensured, with two goals, that the team would maintain at least the five point advantage at the top of the championship.
In the end, does anyone find this outcome strange? Nobody. Would anyone be surprised by a draw? Hardly anyone would either. And even a victory for Vizela would not be shocking. It was, in short, a beautiful football game.
Transitions, Transitions, Transitions
Before the game, in search of relevant trends about the teams, we came across a statistic of the Who Scored which points out that Vizela is the I Liga team that spends less time in the central third of the field. A triviality that did not have, in itself, a clear meaning – or, at least, that allowed categorically to conclude whatever it was.
But the game ended up explaining this statistic. Vizela was a team that alternated between moments of tremendous audacity in the pressure to Benfica’s first phase of construction with moments of a very low defense.
Possibly in an attempt to surprise Benfica with moments of sudden high pressure, Vizela ended up letting the game break – the tendency not to spend much time in the central third of the field.
It was, therefore, a very interesting game to follow. There was space to play and constant counterattacks.
Benfica, which emerged without Rafa, also had an interesting feature. Despite having Aursnes in midfield, with Florentino, the “incarnates” were more permeable to transitions – the indication, not at all paradoxical, that having a defensive player in offensive zones (as has happened with the Norwegian) can be more useful without ball than having it in a more backward zone.
To that extent, Benfica seemed to have João Mário, Neres, Guedes and Ramos in a “different team” from the other players and suffered from it.
The Lisbon side had dangerous counterattacks at 15′ and 26′ and Vizela had at 18′, 25′ and 35′ – Buntic and Odysseas saved great goal opportunities.
At 38′, in one of those moments when they had little shame in taking players to the attack, Vizela was exposed to another “incarnated” transition. Guedes led initially, Neres defined the move and João Mário responded to a delayed cross with a shot in the past – 18th goal of the season.
Aursnes to “glue” the team
It is true that Benfica was more offensive, but Vizela even had the most obvious goals. On balance, the 0-1 could even be considered heavy for what Tulipa’s team had done. Or even unfair.
Vizela came close to the goal again at 51′ and 53′ (in one of the bids they even asked for a penalty kick) and Roger Schmidt wanted to block the team. He released Chiquinho, took out Guedes and put Aursnes back in a more advanced zone.
The idea did not take effect immediately. At 65′, Vizela came close to the goal again – in a counterattack, of course, even with Benfica theoretically more cautious. In that play, Osmajic headed the post and Kindoso, in the reload, hit the post.
The work of Florentino, Chiquinho and Aursnes (who missed many passes that night) ended up calming the team, which became less permeable.
Admittedly, it never seemed capable of “killing” the game, but Benfica managed to be less exposed to danger. And, after having suffered what he suffered, that was all that interested the leader of the First League.
Only at 90+5′ did everything calm down for Benfica, with João Mário converting a penalty when Vizela was already playing with 10 (Anderson’s expulsion for a double booking).