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BALL – “Coming to work in Portugal was one of the best decisions of my life” (“Benfica”)



BALL - "Coming to work in Portugal was one of the best decisions of my life" ("Benfica")

Roger Schmidt was one of the guests of the Thinking Football Summit 2022, which takes place in Lisbon. The German coach, largely responsible for Benfica’s win-win run in 2022/23, spoke about Portuguese football, commitment to training and Portuguese culture.

First impressions of Portuguese football:

“I already have an opinion because I have played several times against Portuguese teams in the Champions League and the Europa League and it has always been difficult games. I am open-minded and when I go to work in another country, I am interested in the culture in general and the football culture of that country. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy working abroad. At first I wanted to get information about my team, my players, their mentality and ways of working. Then, at the beginning of the season, I met other teams. We are always analyzing our opponents, game by game, and the way we play becomes clearer. After five months, my first impression is that this is a difficult league compared to others where I have worked. Preparing for each game is a challenge in itself, but sometimes we are also surprised during the game because the team’s approach is different from what we prepared. I also realized that at the level of defense against teams that are not at the level of Benfica, Porto or Sporting, they are still well organized defensively and are strong teams.”

Differences of Portuguese football from other championships:

“It’s hard to buy championships and also teams. I think the teams we face in Portugal always believe that they have a chance to win. They are only unhappy with the fact that they lose by a few goals. Then it all depends on how the game goes. If you score first it’s easier, otherwise it gets harder because the teams are well organized in defence, very far from the goal. In other countries, when you play teams lower in the standings, you really feel like they don’t believe they can win. I think that’s the main difference.”

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Opportunities for youth:

“The Benfica philosophy is to educate young people to play in the first team and, if they are good enough, sell and have money to keep the team competitive in European competition. I think it’s a good philosophy because for all clubs having young players in the first team is an added advantage. It is a form of identification for the club as well as the fans. At Benfica, everyone wants to see young people in the youth team in the first team. At least some, certainly not all. If we want to get to the higher stages of the Champions League, we can’t just play with young players. It would be difficult. But having some is something positive that also pleases me. I think this should be the goal for all clubs. Some cannot. But for Benfica, as for other clubs in Portugal and Europe, this is a clear testament to the club culture. That’s one of the qualities that also motivated me to come and work with these young players.”

Growth of the Portuguese League:

“Get in the top 4 or top 5? I think Portugal is a fantastic country, but it is small, with 10 million inhabitants, and the number of young players is less than in other countries. For example, in Germany we have 70 million inhabitants. I think that Portugal is now in a good position in European football. And I think it continues to evolve. This year we were close to having three Portuguese teams qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. This is when we see teams like Barcelona fail for the second year in a row. What is happening in Portugal is positive, but there is always room for improvement. The competitiveness of the Portuguese championship helps to improve performance in European competition. If the big teams continue to compete internationally – SC Braga is doing a good job as well – in my opinion it will always be difficult to play against Portuguese teams.”

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“I feel very welcome, the Portuguese culture is very friendly, there is a positive energy in the country, especially in Lisbon where I spend more time. Coming to work in Portugal was one of the best decisions of my life.”


“In everyday life, I am the same as a coach. I’m not trying to be different, in football it’s important to be like yourself. When you try to play a role, things get complicated. I try to enjoy football the way I enjoyed it as a player. And I want to have fun. I know that you have to be successful, and at Benfica that means winning titles. But I love being on the pitch every day with the players, with the technical team and working to put on a good game over the weekend that the fans will be proud of. That’s who I am, I’m never going to be anything more. I try to guide every player, but behind every player there is a person. I’m trying to see this part. Players need to show the best game, and for this they need to feel happy and in a good mood.

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BALL – Enzo, Scaloni’s “pillar”, waiting for Di Maria (Argentina)



BALL - Enzo, Scaloni's "pillar", waiting for Di Maria (Argentina)

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told a press conference this Friday ahead of the World Cup round of 16 match in Qatar – Saturday against Australia (15 hours from mainland Portugal), in Al Rayyan – that he still believes the former player Benfica Di Maria (now at Juventus) has recovered from his injury and is ready to play.

“Di Maria still feels some discomfort, but he has no contractures. Wait for game time. It may seem absurd, but we played later, even after winning the group, and rested less than Australia had since the last game. Look, I also have doubts about whether I will have Tagliafico at the game. i hope angel [Di María] be available for the game,” Scaloni wished reporters this Friday in the capital of Qatar.

According to the Argentine press (Olé newspaper), Scaloni’s midfielder Enzo Fernandez of Benfica is one of the pillars of the formation in a strategy dubbed “Scaloneta”: the Benfica player is already in the starting line-up against Poland (assist) after coming on as a substitute in two previous games (and a beautiful goal scored against the Mexicans) is one of the three pillars of the pampas for the coach, along with Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton) and Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).

What Scaloni doesn’t want is unbridled euphoria. “The opponent is losing? I disagree. Absolutely. This is football, 11 against 11, you have to drop favoritism and play the match. As for tactics, it will be similar, perhaps with some changes. There are good players in Australia, but we will try to show our best game, control the game for most of the minutes, our idea is to try to win,” said Scaloni.

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What he expected from the Oceania team, but which qualified and is playing in the Asian zone, was clear. “They have good players on the right flank, forwards and experienced midfielders playing in competitive leagues. And, in particular, they are a team. And when you face the team, it’s always hard. It’s a choice with players who know what they want,” Scaloni said.

After the controversy over the VAR confirmation of Japan’s 2-1 move against Spain – there was a feeling that the ball had completely crossed the bottom line earlier, but the goal was confirmed – also Scaloni, without stopping to do so, he left, as did his counterpart in Spain Luis Enrique, many doubts.

“I think the way Luis Enrique thinks: the first images are clear. [bola terá passado o risco na totalidade]🇧🇷 But if you analyze it in detail, you will see what happened. There is nothing else to do. We face the situation, we live with it. It’s hard to digest, especially since it’s implemented at the World Cup. If we had time to adapt earlier, but it was very sudden. We had a month of tests before the games. Anyway, this is for everyone, this is what we have. But to be… it’s almost a millimeter,” said the Pampas breeder.

As for the football that will be featured and what Australia expects, there is no doubt. “They have a clear system in attack and I don’t think they are going to change. My message to the fans as always: let’s break our backs on the field! We came to compete, but at the end of the day it’s just football, one game, we saw it in the Group E games on Thursday. Almost all the teams deserved to get into the next stage, but at some point the games turned upside down, that’s what happened, ”Scaloni gave the example, not surprised that Australia beat Denmark.

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“I was not surprised: they are a good team, they had a good qualifying campaign. They were the fourth team to qualify for Qatar! They have a World Cup tradition and that makes them a strong contender. We are not going to be too confident, but we will play our best football, game after game, and see what happens, ”concluded the Argentina coach.

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“Bernardo changed my idea of ​​football, his brain went crazy”



"Bernardo changed my idea of ​​football, his brain went crazy"

Jack Grealish praised Bernardo Silva, the Portuguese midfielder with whom he shares the Manchester City dressing room.

In an interview with The Mirror newspaper, the Englishman even says that Bernardo has changed his attitude to football and considers him the best he has ever played with.

“Bernardo has changed my idea of ​​football. Of all the players I’ve played with, he’s probably the best. The way his brain works is crazy,” he defends.

Grealish later recounted the game, marked by a request from Guardiola to Bernardo that blew him away.

“I remember last year’s game when Pep sent him to pick up the ball from Ederson. He passed to him and Bernardo dribbled. And I thought, “What the hell is this? This guy thinks he’s playing football on the school playground? It was amazing. He’s incredible,” he added.

The Englishman, who competes at the World Championships with the “Três Leões” selection, also highlights the courage of Bernardo Silva.

“Pep says he wants us to show ‘tomatoes’. We have to want the ball, even under pressure when the opposition supporters hover over us and whistle. And he tells us to give him the ball. In short, this is Bernardo,” he sums up.

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A BOLA – A BOLA Poll: Is it right for Benfica to renew Otamendi’s contract after the World Cup? View final result (SHAR)



A BOLA - A BOLA Poll: Is it right for Benfica to renew Otamendi's contract after the World Cup?  View final result (SHAR)

After the interactivity that we intend to implement with readers of different platforms of the A BOLA universe, we are launching a new challenge for you.

In addition to the “Reader’s Mail” section, which we publish daily on the pages of the paper edition and in which you can continue to participate by sending your opinions to [email protected]we also want to invite our readers to a more direct and, above all, loftier participation in the discussion of the topics that characterize the current situation of sports in Portugal.

To this end, we are launching a daily survey here at A BOLA Online with a simple answer to the question (yes or no) in which we intend, in addition to asking you if you agree with the idea that justifies your answer. You just need to leave in the comment field associated with the news, your answer to the question we posed (YES or NO), and then state in the comment no more than 300 characters the reason (or reasons) for supporting your opinion.

The top three of each option (YES or NO) will be published in the paper edition of A BOLA the following day with a nickname (you must be logged in to to comment) corresponding to the person who wrote it.

Participate! Because your opinion matters.

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