To give a better idea of the task we face on Thursday, Benfica are not shy to ask for large amounts of money for their players.
After Darwin Nunez (21) scored a hat-trick against Poznan, their manager, Jorge Jesus, immediately said Nunez was worth at least €126 million Euros.
Not one reporter said he was crazy.
Remember we were slated on this site for asking for 120 million (any currency) when Morelos (23 then) was the top scorer in Europe?
But what makes this story so ‘silly’ is Nunez has only managed to score just once in six matches in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and even though he scored a hat-trick in his first Europa League outing, he drew a blank in his second match.
Though Benfica have brought in numerous expensive players this summer, there is one problem I have seen with bringing in 23 new players in just one transfer window.
Football is a team game.
This basic truth was evident in their painful loss to PAOK, when it was clear the Benfica team just did not know each other.
Then yesterday we saw Benfica lose (3:0) to 14th place Boavista.
This is despite their recent shift to a 4-4-2 to try to shore up their defensive weaknesses, which was slowly becoming more obvious.
Personally, I was praying this heavy defeat would not happen before we played them.
Because I was hoping we would be the team to put three past them – before they realised their back line was so weak.
So, yes they do have a lot of good players in their team, who would walk in to almost any team in Europe,
But this creates their second problem. Just because a player was good in their last club, that does not mean they will thrive in a new club set-up. Morelos is going to find that out when he leaves Rangers.
And just now Benfica are trying to absorb three new strikers, three new defenders and one new midfield into their new preferred lineup.
Though they will grind out some good results, it will take time for them to grow into a proper team, and with their massive bloated squad, there are now many unhappy players at Benfica, and that is a problem.
For this game, I expect Benfica to go with 4-4-2, with Everton at left-midfield to allow them to transition to a 4-3-3, with Everton, Waldschmidt and Nunez up front when they try to overload the box.
Of these three Everton is perhaps their most skillful player, and if Tavernier can handle him, he should be able to handle anyone.
As an aside, I wonder if Tavernier would want to play for the Scottish National Team. He’s has lived in Scotland for more than five years…..
Anyways….. typically, Benfica try to play quickly through the lines, and they will also be looking to get as many free kicks as possible in front of our goal.
This will permit them to use their free-kick specialists, who are just as good as Barisic, to test McGregor in goal.
Their attackers are also good at wrong-footing defenders, which means our defenders will have to be very alert. Being blunt, I think their attack is better than ours, but only because our new forwards are still learning how to link up their play with our midfield.
However, despite the huge difference in valuation, Benfica do leak goals, and Rangers’ midfield is just as good as Benfica’s.
We just have to approach this game as if we were playing Celtic (when they had a good team), and make sure they have to work hard for the ball.
With their team still trying to learn how each other plays, if we force them into playing the ball quickly, we will force this team into making errors.
How this game plays out really depends on how brave we are as a team.
As I mentioned before, this is going to be a tough match, but a win at is not impossible, and after our last two trips to Portugal, and our trip to Villareal, we have nothing to fear.
Let the Teddy Bears roar!
….Eh, wouldn’t it be funny to have 45,000 actual teddy bears sitting around the stadium, for the return game?
Just a thought…