Benfica: passport to the “quarters” and millions more in the Champions League | Soccer

The further we advance in the Champions League, the fewer teams are left to tell the story and the more money is left to distribute among the survivors. This Tuesday, the cut to the quarter-finals begins and Benfica has everything in its favor to be one of the first qualified. The “incarnates” receive Club Brugge in Luz for the second leg of the round of 16 (20h, TVI), after a secure and without discussion, by 0-2, two weeks ago in Belgium, and they are well launched to stay in the top flight of European football and fill their pockets with millions of euros.

If Benfica reaches the Champions League’s top eight group, it won’t be anything new. Not counting the two titles won, plus the five finals in which they lost from the times when the competition was called the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, the “eagles” have already reached the “quarters” in the Champions stage five times. A new qualification and Benfica will break its own earnings record: it will have deposited another check for 10.6 million euros in the account, raising the season’s revenues in Europe to 72 million.

So far, the “incarnates” have already fit 61.04 million between ranking position, entry into the group stage, wins and draws in the group stage and qualification for the “eighth” – a value that is already close to the best fit of always in the Champions, which took place in 2021-22, 65.5 million for reaching the “quarters”, a stage in which they were eliminated by Liverpool. Passing Club Brugge, Benfica is a candidate to add another 12.5 million if they reach the semi-finals; a place in the final is worth another 15.5 million; the title will be worth another 4.5 million. That is, in the perfect scenario for Benfica, that of going all the way and winning, the total will be 104.5 million.

But before thinking about these hypothetical sums, Benfica will still have to confirm their qualification against the Belgians. The result of the first leg gave Roger Schmidt’s team a good margin of manoeuvre, but not to the point of taking the tie for granted. “The situation is good, but nothing has been done. We expect the opponent to do everything to turn the tie around. We believe in ourselves, we want to play good football and show that we deserve to be in the quarter-finals. Relaxing is not our attitude. The truth happens on the field. We are at half-time in this tie, we know that they have dangerous weapons and we have to be organized”, warned the German coach of Benfica.

“Nothing is done”

In addition to the earnings record, this round could also be a milestone in Roger Schmidt’s career. In his debut season at Benfica, the German never got beyond the Champions League round of 16 – he participated three times with Bayer Leverkusen, twice passed the group stage, but never reached the “quarter”. Schmidt doesn’t want to talk about achievements in advance: “After the game we can talk about that if we qualify, but for now we are focused on the game. I respect football and the opponent, nothing is done.”

Benfica comes to this second leg with an almost perfect record in 2023 – the only stain of the year is the elimination of the Portuguese Cup on penalties. Club Brugge, on the other hand, is in a particularly turbulent moment of the season – in 2023, it only won two games in 11, and Scott Parker, who took over as coach precisely at the beginning of the year, seems to be on schedule with the Belgian champion, he who signed the mid-season a contract until 2025, to replace Carl Hoefkens. Despite the bad results and poor performance two weeks ago, the British coach, who was coached by José Mourinho at Chelsea, believes in a turnaround in the tie and in Club Brugge’s fortunes.

“Looking at the first game, I still think it was very competitive, very divided, with an uncertain result and with the goals born from two of our mistakes. That gives me hope for the second leg”, analyzed the British coach, acknowledging that the task will be very difficult for his team at Luz: “Benfica is a top team, very competitive, with a lot of individual quality, a world-class team. We know their qualities and all the good they have done in Europe and Portugal. It is a very strong team.”

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