In Flanders, Benfica will have to escape the “air force” | Soccer

When they put Benfica in competitions to be eliminated, things didn’t go as the benfiquistas had hoped. The League Cup is already a long way off and the Portuguese Cup also disappeared a few days ago. But is it an inability to know how to play, when it comes to a fall into the void, as is any evidence to be eliminated? There will be those who defend this thesis, but also the opposite. The answer will arrive in a few hours.

This Wednesday (20h, Eleven) the “reds” enter action in the round of 16 of the Champions League, with a visit to Club Brugge, in the first leg of the tie.

When we talk about sport in the beautiful region of Flanders, we usually talk about cycling classics, “camouflaged” events: unique landscapes, but brutally hard. For Benfica, it could be a little different – ​​facing and beating Club Brugge is far from equivalent, in football, to the difficulty of pedaling and winning a Tour of Flanders.

The Belgian team is not a “shark” and is in a particularly thorny moment: a victory in the last ten games, the last seven under the baton of the new coach, the Englishman Scott Parker.

Escape the “air force”

In wars of the last century, the air force of the great powers had a tremendous impact on the Flanders area. This Wednesday, Benfica’s success will depend on surviving the air force of the second team that wins the most duels in the air in the Champions League (there are 15 per game, according to the site Who Scored).

And this is not just a statistical precept. Club Brugge’s style of play exploits this type of football, as it is the Champions team with the most long passes per game (70, well above all others).

And it is also the one that spends the least time in the third of the opponent’s field and the one that makes the fewest shots per game – details that attest to the meager predisposition to mobilize many players for the offensive aspect of the game, exploring mainly the long balls.

All of this is triggered by the presence of Vanaken, a Belgian midfielder who is the “owner” of the team and who thrives on air power, especially when faced with short midfielders. Striker Jutglà, even without being particularly tall, likes to give himself to duels, something that doesn’t change when the striker is Yaremchuk, a former Benfica player.

Club Brugge’s matches against FC Porto have intensified these statistical indications by direct observation, so Benfica has enough data and evidence to know that it should avoid duels, betting on creating bait for the Belgians.

In the second game against Club Brugge, the blue and white players took advantage of the usual high pressure of the Belgians to skip the first construction phase and put the ball directly on the forwards or in the corridors, making useless the bold positioning of the Club Brugge midfielders, almost always in references man to man.

In Benfica’s case, that could mean using António Silva’s ability in the long pass to skip the intermediate stage and feed Ramos and Guedes, either in depth or between the lines – something that FC Porto exploited quite well, because the Belgian defense does not goes up in block with the pressure of the mediums.

Schmidt downplays bad Club Brugge

all these nuances they may, theoretically, be important in what will happen at the Jan Breydel stadium, but, even without them, Benfica will have the obligation to overcome this team.

The individual and collective value is incomparable and, even with some disappointments in competitions to eliminate, Benfica even in the mental plan is with a comfort completely different from a Club Brugge in agony. Roger Schmidt, coach of the “incarnates”, devalued, even so, that detail.

“From my experience, what you do in other competitions is not important in the Champions League. They had a difficult group, in which they beat Atlético de Madrid and Leverkusen. They deserve to be here and I don’t think they’re going to take the field thinking about the moment they’re going through”, he shot, previewing the match.

This Wednesday will also have millionaire football in Germany, with Borussia Dortmund-Chelsea. It is a tie between a formation that “does not get it right”, Chelsea, and one that has never been so “attuned”, Borussia.

In totally different moments, the two teams will have to give a lot of importance to this competition, not least because none of them, especially Chelsea, have the internal accounts of their championships with success in sight.

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