Great blow for two world champions in the Champions League. Due to the extraordinary performance of the previous edition, it was expected that the Benfica once again have prominence in the Old Continent. However, despite having footballers of the caliber of Angel Di Maria y Nicolás Otamendi, the Águilas say goodbye early to Orejona. In Anoeta, Real Sociedad beat him 3-1 (and fell short) and left him with no chance of getting into the top 16. They lost all four games…
Benfica, out of the Champions League in the first round
From the start, the disparity between the two teams was noticeable.. The Real Sociedad was flying, suffocating, smelling blood. On the other hand, Benfica was never able to cope with the barrage of the San Sebastián team and was widely surpassed from start to finish. With the ball, without the ball, in ball disputes. It was not so much a tactical issue (which it also was), but rather an attitudinal issue.. La Real wanted and proved to be one of the best 16 teams in Europe.
Imanol Alguacil Barrenetxea came out with his 4-3-3 that characterizes him, with the explosion of Takefusa Kubo and Ander Barrenetxea on the wings, the versatility of Mikel Oyarzabal as a false nine and the constant collaboration of Mikel Merino to command the midfield. For its part, Roger Schmidt broke with his classic 4-2-3-1 and, due to the need for victory, appealed to 3-4-3 which he had tested on Saturday, against Chaves (2-0). However, it was far from having an effect.
Good ball handling and The constant high pressure against the Portuguese team made Real Sociedad maintain possession and dominance during the first 45′. He ran over him. And, when he was face to face with goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubín, he did not fail: Merino, Oyarzabal and Barrenetxea put Real 3-0 up, in the 20th minute! And there could have been more, if it weren’t for the fact that two were disallowed (one for a handball and another for an offside position) and Brais Méndez crashed a penalty against the post. It could have been 6-0 in the PT…
At 30′, and seeing that he could fit eight, Schmidt took out Florentino Luis (a terrible game, with a blunder at 2-0) and brought in David Jurasek to rearrange the team in a 4-4-2, with more containment by the bands. With that, Benfica no longer suffered like the first half and even managed to score a goal: At the start of a free kick, Otamendi found Rafa Silva low and the Portuguese scored. Was there a chance for a comeback?
The truth is that, if there were, The Benfica ultras were in charge of stopping the flood. In the run-up, they had come across fans in the streets of San Sebastián. And, around the 52nd minute, they began to throw flares towards the local stands, creating unrest, not only among the 40,000 spectators present in Anoeta, but also among the Águilas footballers themselves, who shouted for the aggression to stop. . With that, The process was ironed out and Real headed towards closure, dominating through possession. I had already reached it with the dance of the first 20′.
Surprise. At least for what was expected at the beginning of the Champions League. Benfica, champion of Portugal and who had been in the 8th. of the last edition, they were left out in the group stage and there are still four dates to play. He did not get a single point: he lost 2-0 with RB Salzburg, 1-0 with Inter, 1-0 with Real Sociedad in Lisbon and 3-1 at Anoeta. With six beans left, the Eagles were seven behind Inter (2nd, with one game less). Since 2019/20 they have not suffered such a blow. Now, they must fight for a place in the Europa League. Better than nothing…
The post first appeared on www.ole.com.ar