Don’t let “Experts” Tell You Otherwise…Benfica go into Super Cup as Underdogs

Key pieces missing as Benfica limp into Aveiro for Super Cup against Porto.

Luis Miguel Afonso Fernandes, known better as Pizzi is Benfica’s most in form player at the moment but is ruled out of Thursday’s match after testing positive for COVID19

Aveiro– just over 24 hours from kickoff and the biggest news to come from the Benfica camp today is that current top performer and key playmaker Pizzi will miss Wednesday’s Super Cup after testing positive for COVID19 and that will be a huge blow to the Eagle’s chances Wednesday at the Municipal Stadium in Aveiro against the defending Champions and Cup winners F.C. Porto. Normally, this fixture is a reoccurring nightmare for the Glorioso as we’ve become accustomed to watching our team get not just outplayed but outworked, intimidated and flat out bullied by our rivals each time the two sides square off. Supporters of the Eagles lament time after time that it seems we always enter these matches behind 2-0 before a ball is even kicked.

Our rivals are known for their high work rate, efficiency on set pieces and “us against the world” mentality when they take the pitch. Sergio Conceicao is no doubt the perfect man to lead the club into battle as manager leading by example and bringing an unrivaled intensity on the touch line and a demand that his players “die if necessary” on the pitch for the better of the team. The 46 year old manager epitomizes everything the club and fanbase value and look for in both managers and players and his team is no doubt built in his image. His players run hard up and down the pitch and never shy away from a challenge, a tactical foul or a shouting/pushing match when it’s called for just the same exact way their manager carried himself in his two stints as player for the club. Style points count for little at the Dragao and mean little to their fans, what Portistas want to see is “garra” or fight, they want their players to leave every once of blood sweat and tears on the pitch for the blue and white striped jersey they loved and when effort is lacking the “Tripeiros” make themselves heard. What Benfica has failed to understand for the better part of atleast the last half decade is that they need to match this intensity when facing this monster we all know and hate called Futebol Clube do Porto.

The matches tend to follow a familiar formula. Benfica enter trying to build play out of the back in the first phase of construction, usually with slow and predictable passing. It doesn’t normally take long for the opposition to start in with a high press and in the process amplifying the intensity and when the opportunity presents itself the physicality as well. Within minutes Benfica’s slow build up play is either met with a dangerous turnover or a high pressing Porto player will get stuck in and happily come in late with a challenge and put a Benfica player on the turf and make him question how many times he really wants to receive the ball in this match. Porto players and staff know Portuguese referees are quite lenient in the early stages of these Clasicos . They know it’s in the first quarter hour that they will need to set the tempo and environment they want the match to played in. They quickly establish they are the bullies and that will beat Benfica up all 90 minutes unless the boys in red jerseys decide to do something about it. Should a Benfica player get brave and retaliate well then the referee will have 5,6, 7 or more Porto players surrounding him and the Benfica player will also find himself surrounded, see Porto enter these matches with a gang mentality and our side has yet to figure out how to deal with it. Before you know there’s a set piece in a dangerous area and we find ourselves behind on the scoresheet. Going back several coaching staffs nobody at Benfica has been able to consistently come up with a plan to deal with the psychological dominance this club has over us.

So looking to Wednesday’s match without Pizzi or Andre Almeida and possibly missing other players such as Gabriel, Rafa and Otamendi who are all facing fitness questions how do Benfica possibly approach this match and how can they cope with the style of the opponent that has proven time and time again to be horrible match up for SLB. On one side you have a team that all eleven players live by the mantra that the ball may get by but the man will not, on the other you have Benfica the team with the fewest fouls committed in Portuguese Football and who have already surrendered so many goals this season that could have been prevented buy an early tactical foul.


The Bully/Victim relationship between Benfica and Porto goes back decades!

Jorge Jesus needs to instill in his players once and for all so that they understand these matches are not like other matches. Technique and tactics take a back seat to the fact that if Benfica want to beat Porto they need to take the pitch as a cohesive united squad that’s will stand up and fight for each other. There will be egregious fouls and our players cannot back down like they have in the past. Regardless of the XI that JJ selects Benfica will have to keep their shape and protect their backline with their lives. Benfica will no doubt have a fair share of the goalscoring opportunities as Porto are suffering from many of the same defensive weaknesses as we are. The players in red will especially have to hold their territory especially when defending set pieces as the last meeting in last season’s Portuguese Cup final proved to be deadly for the defending champions. Benfica will have to do things they are not comfortable with like committing early fouls to prevent counters as well as holding the referee accountable when he begins to be influenced by Porto. Jose Mourinho is quoted famously in the Amazon Primer Series ” All or Nothing ” (which followed him around his first season at Spurs) as telling his players ” You’re all nice guys, and nice guys don’t win titles, for those 90 minutes you need to be more mean and want to win at all costs”. Once of the players the Special one preached that to was Jan Vertonghen who is now a Benfica player and I’m hopeful the Belgian International (as well as manager Jorge Jesus) will pass that message to Benfica players on Wednesday. It’s true, in this rivalry Benfica have taken much injustice laying down and thus allowing it to continue. Last February in a crucial league match we saw Adel Taarabt get knocked out by a swinging back forearm from Moussa Marega, nothing happened to Marega. Referee and VAR alike failed to address the assault on Benfica’s Moroccan attacker, no Porto player was dealt any type of retaliation and in fact Benfica defender Ferro would be soon after be called for a penalty for handling a ball in the area after being shoved with a two handed push in the back by a Porto player. Benfica responded like “nice guys” and trying to answer with good football. Ferro would never recover mentally from the penalty conceded as he would spiral into an epic drop in form that today has him firmly outside the managers plans. Again we allow Porto to do these things to us match after match. My hope for this Super Cup is a collective response, a team ready to dig in and battle their arch rival for a trophy that we have won far too few times. There’s no doubt Benfica are the underdogs, anyone saying otherwise is either fooling themselves or just being politically correct. But if O Glorioso can answer the bell and stand up to this bully who has for too long been allowed to walk into our house, take our food, kick our dog and make love to our wife and then leave smoking our cigarettes, then that type of brave performance and united stance can catapult this team into 2021 on the right foot and give this side the oxygen bubble it needs to get out of third gear in this 2020/21 season and start stepping on the gas on our way to number 38. Carrega Benfica! Juntos Somos Maiores!!!


Mister Benfica now available on more platforms!!!

It is with great pleasure that I annouced the podcast has recently been picked up by some major podcast platforms! See below!!


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Benfica Ladies make History

Brussels- It was a night that this Benfiquista certainly will not soon forget! This past Wednesday night our Women’s Football team faced the biggest the match in its history. On the road against the Belgian giants Anderlecht, Benfica’s Lady Aguias had 90 minutes to conquer their dreams of playing in the biggest club football competition in the world.

In the first Preliminary Round Benfica traveled to Greece to face their champion PAOK. The truth is in the women’s game most countries only send one team to the Champions League. The top leagues in Europe only send two, therefore the opportunity when it presents itself cannot be taken for granted. Against PAOK our side found themselves going ahead 1-0 early and didn’t really look back. The Greek side seemed to underestimate the debutantes from Portugal. Benfica qualified for the preliminary stages by way of being in First Place in the Liga BPI at the time the 2019-20 season was canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Though no one was recognized as champion, Benfica were ahead of Sporting on head to head and goal difference at the time of the shut down so naturally Benfica was selected to participate.

Winning in Greece in a “one off” win or go home play-off Benfica booked their spot in the second preliminary round and it was no doubt exciting for all of us. However, it came in a strange lunchtime kick off and for those of us watching at home on a poor quality, two camera stream from PAOK’s official YouTube page that was far from up to the level of what would be considered acceptable for the UEFA Champions League. I was sincerely disappointed that that presentation was the best a large club like PAOK could do. When I saw the evening kick off time slotted for the Anderlecht match I was officially excited!

Tuning in early as I did on match day I was pleasantly surprised with the level of pregame coverage and discussion on BTV. The television presenters on the club’s network did an excellent job setting the stage and informing the viewer of what they needed to know going into the match. Clearly they all did their homework and should us they knew our opponent and they knew the competition as a whole very well. Finally this FELT like it was going to be a historic night for our club and I had a sense that I was tapping into the feelings and sensations Benfiquistas felt in other eras when these Cup styled matches were the norm in European Football and where our club enjoyed some of its most famous nights. I was certainly overcome with nostalgia imaging how my grandfather for example must have felt on those famous European nights in the 60’s , 70’s and 80’s.

The cloud hanging over the match from our perspective was of course the harsh result against our rivals in the past weekend’s match. Supporters and media alike questioned manager Luis Andrade’s decisions both in the XI he selected and the substitutions he opted for in reaction to going behind. If you want to know more about this match against Sporting below is my podcast episode where I covered the match and gave my honest take.

My review of the derby match last weekend against our rival Sporting CP.

But that was all in the past now, I stated on the podcast I felt that important lessons were learned in that match and I think the performance in Belgium proved that to be true. Whatever the preparation the manager used, it worked! After a match where we were done in by own mistakes, the ladies played practically mistake-free football in Brussels. Benfica’s movements off of the ball against Anderlecht were the best I have seen from this team in the now more than 2 years I’ve been watching them (I’ve watched since day 1 and that presentation match at the Luz against Deportivo La Coruna). The backline had sorted themselves out and were impeccably positioned all night and dealt with so many balls being whipped in by the Belgian side. Luis Andrade opted to go with Carolina Vilao in goal over Dani Neuhaus and for the most part she was well protected by the defenders in front of her. Silva Rebelo and Carole Costa answered the call time and time again and in front of them the in-form Pauleta continued to be a rock anchoring the midfield and winning balls like she was literally playing for her footballing life. That’s what it takes at this level and I’m so proud of our girls for the level of performance they reached in this match. No honest onlooker would have been able to guess they were playing in their first Champions League. Our girls played like they belong at this level and they proved that they do! Catarina Amado was once again our “máquina” down the right channel. Our attacking players were all at their best as well and again that’s exactly what it takes at this level. Ana Vitoria was once again on top form and so effectively used her pace and physical strength to power right through defenders as did double goal scorer Nycole Raysla who was too strong and too good for Anderlecht to deal with all night. Her two goals were both scorchers and she had herself a career she certainly will always remember. Cloé Lacasse used her pace and intelligence to constantly stretch and wear out the defenders in purple. Andreia Faria showed she quickly moved on from a key mistake on Saturday and was again breaking the opponent’s defensive lines with pinpoint throughballs and even getting stuck in on a hard challenge when necessary. Christy Ucheibe played her best match in a Benfica kit, so smooth and fluid with every movement and brilliantly spreading the ball around. Anita Seiça proved she’s adapting well to her new role as a Left Back having been converted from her normal central position. Check out the highlights below!

Manager Luis Andrade coached a near perfect match as well in this one. He got the XI, the system and the substitutions(or lack there of as the match called for) all on point. This team showed in this match that they are every bit as good as Sporting and that it’s way too early for a coronation for our rivals. The entire second stage of the league still lies ahead as well the Cup finals in the Portuguese Cup and the League Cup and if this team play like this, they will still bring home silverware this season! Next Tuesday November 24th UEFA will hold the drawing for the round of 32 and it’s likely Benfica will draw one of the big sharks of women’s football in Europe. I don’t doubt for one minute that this team will continue to make us proud in this competition no matter who’s name is drawn to face us in the 2 legged tie next month. Thank you girls for reminding me how much I love this game. This performance deserves to go down in the club’s history as another magical European night that I’ll look forward to watching back years from now. Coming soon will be a new podcast episode where I break down this match and analyze this historic victory! Obrigado Meninas, E Pluribus Unum!!!


Benfica’s Root Problem is Cultural, Not Technical/Tactical

“…the only one to blame is me, I am the President”

-Luis Filipe Vieira

Lisbon, Portugal- Bruno Lage has stepped down as Manager of Benfica’s First Team, a post he’s held since January 3,2019. 2019 was in-fact a dream year for the now 44 year old former Benfica manager. His reign closed out with a lackluster 2-0 loss on Madeira Island Monday against the now 12th place C.S. Maritimo. In what now feels like an alternate universe (both on the pitch and just in general) Bruno Lage took control of the Eagles then in 2nd place and guided the Glorioso one match at a time, 3 points at a time past archrival Porto and across the finish line in first place as Champions of Portugal in the most fairy tale manner possible. In his first 20 League matches Lage dropped only 2 points in a home draw to Belenseses, SAD and erased a 7 point deficit in the table to the Dragons from the North. Add to that, when Portuguese football kicked off for the 2019/20 season Lage’s men picked up right where they left off the previous season (at least in terms of results). A 5-0 thumping of cross city rival Sporting in the annual SuperCup was followed by wins in the first two rounds of the new LigaNOS season. A round 3 shocking home defeat to the same Porto side Lage had outclassed in every way imaginable en route to the title just months earlier was the manager’s first career LigaNOS defeat. In that match there were suspect decisions made by the gaffer that were criticized by supporters and press alike, including yours truly. I remember criticizing the decision to start a young and green overwhelmingly left footed defender Nuno Tavares at right back. I like many others however, gave Lage the benefit of the doubt and placed the blame on the president for a poor offseason in the transfer market and not providing his manager with an acceptable squad (an opinion I stand behind to this day). With hindsight always being 20/20 it’s not hard to see right from the first defeat that the passionate romance between the manager and the supporters was already showing cracks in its foundation. Benfica would go on to win all the remaining matches in the first half of the season and go into the second half of the race with a 7 point lead of their own. What’s happened since does not have to mentioned here as anyone reading this knows the manager has stepped down and we now sit 2nd in the League 6 points from Porto with 5 matches to play. Much has been said about this team’s collapse in 2020 but I believe to understand the collapse you have to go back farther. For me the roots of the problem go back to 2018 and earlier, before most Benfiquistas even knew the name Bruno Lage.

Previous manager Rui Vitoria also had his romance with the fan base, although it never had the heat that Lage’s affair did. We all remember that Champions League 2nd Leg at home to Bayern Munich where Vitoria stood up for his players and was sent off by the referee and that scene of the supporters in the front rows of the Estadio da Luz near the tunnel embracing and mobbing Rui Vitoria in support of the manager that at that time had guided Benfica to similar come back in the table from down 7 points to over take the recently departed “traitor” Jorge Jesus’ Sporting side while going down in honor and with fighting spirit to a superior German giant in the Uefa Champions League. The break up between Benfiquistas and Jorge Jesus was the most bitter of any I’ve experienced. Not knowing then what I know now I also considered JJ a “traitor” and like with any long term break up (For 6 years JJ patrolled Benfica’s touchline in good times and bad.) harsh words were exchanged and JJ’s words offended Benfica’s players and supporters and inspired everyone in the club from the President to the kitman to youngest of Benfica supporters to rally together behind the hashtag #Juntos and the rest is history. 2 years later feelings had all died off for Rui Vitoria and not only from fans but players as well. The manager lost the lockeroom and the leaders of the team and at first the quality of play dropped and though the team maintained good results for some time they began relying on uglier more kick and rush styled victories, earning Vitoria the nickname “Rui Bombo”. Naturally as play deteriorated, results soon followed and it began to look as if none of the players wanted to play anymore. The nail in Rui Bombo’s coffin was a road defeat to Portimonense in which our players managed not one, but two own goals to ensure the manager’s sacking.

A week later back in our Estadio da Luz it was like flipping a switch and Benfica looked like they’d changed their mind about playing and the new manager inserted a teenager name Joao Felix and it was pure magic. That was the first win in an unbeaten League run that would span 22 rounds into the following season and we all thought (myself especially) we had our own version of the 2003-2007 Jose Mourinho. Only ours was better, our Bruno Lage was not arrogant, he didn’t consider himself “special”, the team played a mouth watering style of football featuring a number of our own academy players. The best part was our new manager had come through as an academy coach along with that generation of players and he was one of us. Fast-forward to the COVID19 bizzarro world and again Benfiquistas and their manager had lost feelings for each other. Many began day dreaming of the day that ex that betrayed us years ago would come back, save the day and we’d live happily ever after. Truth is it is now more than obvious Jorge Jesus did not betray and in fact I will argue our president betrayed him. Luis Filipe Vieira had his own romantic visions of all kinds of Benfica owned properties. Hotels, Media platforms, Health Clubs you name it and the president dreamed of a Benfica branded and licensed version of it. The team on the pitch became secondary to the spreadsheet and players stopped being looked at as part of a football team and instead became commodities to be sold to wealthier clubs abroad. I pinpoint the pushing out of Jorge Jesus as the critical moment where the toxic culture that now encapsulates Benfica was born. The idea that this club no longer needs to buy players that we can just always promote from within, those seeds were planted when JJ crossed the Segundo Circular to the Alvalade Stadium. The president stopped hiring managers based on qualifications but instead on obedience to his plans. In additioned to less experienced managers whom he could more easily manipulate LFV stopped bringing in strong personalities for the teamsheet as well. This is the reason today’s version of the team has very little leadership and this is how overpaid and unchecked egotistical players have buried the last 2 managers. With the exception of small hand full of players on this roster, these players don’t deserve to wear our crest. This club has pampered and spoiled these overall average players rotten. The entitlement of the majority of those players lead them to believe they can decide when, where and for what manager they will player. This is the problem with Benfica and it will not change just by simply changing the manager. Don’t be surprised to see this side decide they are going to play now and turn around and win these last 5 matches because these overpaid primadonnas think they can just turn it on and off as they wish. I now realize Lage wasn’t as great a manager as we thought , I believe because of the weak level of our League they players decided they’d work for him until they didn’t want to anymore. We won a title but perhaps paid for it with the soul of our club. Until the culture in the club is changed starting with the man at the very top, President Luis Filipe Vieira I expect more of the same. Maybe we’ll beat out Porto every other season and trade titles but the Champions League will continue to be viewed as a show place for young talent that is for sale and the manager whoever it will be will likely have to fill the prerequisite of being Vieira’s ultimate “Yes” man. If you’re interested in more of my thoughts regarding Bruno Lage, and the future of the club especially pertaining to the role of manager then check out the upcoming episode 64 of the podcast when it drops later this week. Below is a segment from my last episode.


Welcome to MisterBenfica.com

Welcome to misterbenfica.com the new one stop home of all content created by “the Mister” Mike Agostinho. After about a year of podcasting I have decided it was necessary to add a written component to the podcast that can be found pretty much anywhere podcasts are available. My mission has been and is to continue to bring quality content and analysis in English to Benfica fans anywhere in the world. Why? Well it’s simple I’ve noticed over time that even though I grew up in a Portuguese family in the United States being fully bilingual a lot of my friends and peers were not speaking or reading in Portuguese as much as we got older, I began to realize that if the club does not make a solid to produce content in English and make it widely accepted they risk losing entire generations of fans simply because they’re now 2 or 3 generations removed from Portugal and naturally a lot of these potential fans have never spoken or read any Portuguese. I realize the massive size of the Portuguese communities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and elsewhere should be a target audience for the club and I don’t believe the club realize that. At that point I felt it a personal calling rather than to lament the situation I should instead work to improve it and thus I began recording the Mister Benfica podcast. Now they was already plenty of Benfica coverage in the podcast landscape and some of that coverage was in fact in English and when I discovered it I realized I too to could provide to this community and help fill this void for a generation or more of Benfiquistas abroad. Having spent 12 years as a coach in the United States and working my way up all the way to a semi-professional level I felt I could bring a perspective that was different than what was already out there. The perspective of the “Mister”. In Portugal the coach is referred to as the “Mister” by his players and this is a sign of respect that goes back over years to when the British brought football to Portugal and thus the teachers would come to be addressed as Mister. So from that idea the persona of Mister Benfica was born, and though I can get off topic my goal is to be true to the persona and to try to always approach the match reviews from the view of the Mister. Finally after a year of playing horrible ads on my podcast forcing listeners to suffer through them I had earned enough from the pod to launch this page and give Mister Benfica a proper home. I ask everyone to please subscribe below and hope you will enjoy the content on this page. Coming soon will always been an accompanying YouTube Channel for some additional original video content. Thank you for your support over the past year and here’s to another year of success both off and on the pitch! If you haven’t yet I do ask that you rate and comment on my Apple Podcasts page to help me get the pod to more ears in the English speaking world! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mister-benfica/id1453307380 and don’t forget to check out my social media links above! Carrega Benfica!!

Double Episode!! Ep. 121 and 122: Wins and cleansheets in #UWCL and #LigaBwin

Episode 117: Season 4 Premiere Spartak 0 Benfica 2 #UCL & Pichardo wins Gold #Tokyo2020

Episode 115: Portuguese Cup Final/ Disastrous Season Recap with Special Guest Mario of Benfica After 90

Today I’m joined by Mario Mota of Benfica After 90. Follow Mario on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mdotslb . Today we are having our annual discussion on alot of the off the field issues going on at the club whether it be financials, staffing and administrative issues, plus we’ll look back at the season and discuss several key topics! The highlight for me was the several minutes we spent discussing the success of Benfica’s Women’s Football Team!! Music used in this episode is courtesy if Agendaz , follow Agendaz on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/artist/3LdKs… Check out the links below and be sure to subscribe to this Channel! And always sign the guest book and get email notifications for new content on : https://misterbenfica.com/ Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast… Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7n9EQeh… IHeartRadio: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/256-mi… Audacy (formerly Radio.com): https://www.audacy.com/podcasts/miste… Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Mister-Ben… YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Ij… And follow the show on social media! Twitter: https://twitter.com/BenficaMister Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misterbenfica/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/misterbenficaSHOW LESS

Episode 114 Vitoria SC 1 Benfica 3 #LigaNOS R34 #VSCSLB

Episode 113: Benfica 4 Sporting 3 #LigaNOS R33; Benfica 7 Condeixa 0 #LigaBPI R13

Watch Episode in full below!!!