Thursday, August 18, 2016

Benfica Greatest All-time Team

Benfica in the 1960's
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Portugal
BenficaPortoSporting SP

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Benfica's victory at the European Cup in 1961 ended Real Madrid's domination at the tournament.  They would reach the Final 4 times in 5 years, winning back-to-back European Cup in 1961 and 1962.  However, since the 1962 victory, Benfica is known for its failure at the Finals of both the European Cup and the UEFA Cup. Some people blamed it on the "Bela Guttman's curse".  After winning back-to-back European Cup in 1961 and 1962, Coach Bela Guttman asked for a pay rise, but the club refused.  Guttman left the club in anger and allegedly cursed the club, declaring "not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion." Benfica has not win a single trophy in Europe ever since.
Victory over Barcelona in 1961
Team
GK: Michel Preud’Homme (Belgium)
Michel Preud’Homme played for Standard Liège, Mechelen, and Benfica. With Mechelen, he won the Belgian Cup in 1987, the Cup Winner's Cup and the European Super Cup in 1988. He was alas a legend with Benfica, earn g the nick name "Saint Michel" there. For the national team, he had 58 caps.  He went to the WC in 1994, where he was voted as the best keeper.  He also was a team member at Euro 1980 and 1984.

GK: Manuel Bento (Portugal)
Manuel Bento is the Portugal Goalkeeper of the Year for 8 times.  He represented Portugal at the European Championship in 1984, where Portugal nearly pulled an upset over eventual winner and host France in the semifinal.  He also played in the 1986 World Cup. He earned 63 caps in total.  At the club level, he played nearly 20 years for Benfica,  appearing in 630 appearances. He was Portuguese Footballer of the Year in 1977.

GK:  Costa Pereira (Portugal)
Costa Pereira is the goalkeeper for both Benfica and Portugal during the golden years in the 1960's.  He won two consecutive European Cup with Benfica in 1961 and 1962, and lost two other finals in 1963 and 1965.  Costa Pereira played at the World Cup Qualifying rounds for the 1966 World Cup, but was not selected for the Finals. He had 22 caps in total.

RB: Domiciano Cavem (Portugal)
Domiciano Cavem is the starting rightback for Benfica's Golden Generation of the 1960's. He could play as forward, midfielder and fullback. He won two European Cups in the 1960's with Benfica, scoring a goal in the 1962 Final. He had 18 caps between 1956 and 1965, but he was overlooked for the World Cup Finals in 1966. His last cap was in 1965.

RB: Artur Correia (Portugal)
Artur started with Academica de Coimbra while studying in college.  He joined Benfica in 1971.  He won 5 league titles in 6 seasons with them.  In 1977, he moved to rival Sporting SP, where he won another league title.  He also played for New England Tea Men in the United States. In 1980, he suffered a stroke which forced hi to retire.  He earned 34 caps for Portugal between 1972 and 1979.

CB: Humberto Coelho (Portugal) 
Humberto Coelho was Portugal's cap record holder at one point.  He was known as the "Beckenbauer of Portugal".  He played with Benfica between 1968 and 1975 after making his debut as 18 years old.  He played Paris St. Germain between 1975 and 1977.  He also played in the United States. He play 64 times for Portugal.  He helped Portugal to qualify for the Euro 1984 in France, but he did not go due to an injury. He never appeared in a major tournament.
Humberto Coelho

CB: Ricardo Gomes (Brazil) 
Ricardo Gomes started his career with Fluminense at home before joining Benfica in 1988.  He would then join Paris St.Germain in 1991.  At the international level, he went to play in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where Brazil was known for their defensive tactics.  In 1994, he was selected as the captain for USA 1994.  However, he was injured at the last minute and did not attend the World Cup Finals.

CB: Luisão (Brazil)
Most of his professional career has been spent with Benfica, for which he has appeared in more than 500 official matches, having won 17 major titles. Luisão is the longest-serving captain in Benfica history.  Before moving to Europe, he played for Clube Atlético Juventus and Cruzeiro Esporte Clube.  Earned 44 caps.  He was on the team for World Cup Finals in 2006 and 2010.

CB: Carlos Mozer (Brazil)
Carlos Mozer started his career with Flamengo in 1980, winning the 1981 Copa Libertadores.  In Europe, he played for Benfica on two different spells and went to play with Marseille in between them.  With Marseille, he reached the 1990-1991 European Cup Final. He later played in Japan at the end of his career. At the international level, he was capped 32 times between 1983 and 1994.  He missed the World Cup Finals in 1986, but went to the one in 1990 with Brazil.
Carlos Mozer
CB/DM: Germano (Portugal)
Germano is probably one pf Portugal's greatest defensive players.  He was the captain for both Portugal and Benfica during the 1960's.  He played most of his career with Benfica, appearing in 131 official games and winning eight major titles, including two European Cups.  He went to the World Cup finals in 1966 as the original captain, but he did not play well and lost his captaincy.  He ranked 53rd in UEFA's 50 Greatest Footballers of the Last 50 Years jubilee list.

LB: Alvaro  (Portugal)
Alvaro amassed Primeira Liga totals of 224 games and six goals over the course of 11 seasons, mainly with Benfica with which he spent nine seasons, winning ten major titles. At the international level, he had 20 caps between 1981 and 1988. He was Portugal's starting leftback for the 1984 European Championship in France, where Portugal reached the semifinal.  He also played in World Cup 1986 in Mexico.

CM/LB: Stefan Schwarz (Sweden)
Stefan Schwarz played with Malmo, Benfica, Arsenal, Fiorentina, Valencia and Sunderland. His longest stints were with Benfica (1991-1994) and Fiorentina (1995-1998). At Benfica, he partnered Jonas Thern at the mdifield, whom he also played with in Sweden.  He was Sweden Player of the Year in 1999.  He played 69 times for Sweden.  He was a part of Sweden's World Cup team that finished 3rd in 1994. He also played in the 1990 World Cup and European Championship in 1992.
Stefan Schwarz
DM: Jonas Thern (Sweden)
Jonas Thern played 75 times for Sweden. He captained the Sweden squad that finished third at the 1994 World Cup. He also played in the 1990 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship in 1992 hosted by Sweden. He played for Malmö FF, FC Zürich, Benfica, Napoli, Roma and Rangers. At Benfica, he partnered Stefan Schwarz at the mdifield, whom he also played with in Sweden.

CM: Mario Coluna (Portugal)
Mario Coluna is one of the greatest player ever for both Portugal and Benfica. He spent most of his career with Benfica, appearing in 525 official games and scoring 127 goals during 16 professional seasons. He was dubbed Monstro Sagrado (Sacred Monster).  He won 19 major titles with his main club, including ten national leagues. He won two European Cup with Benfica in 1961 and 1962.  He was the captain of Portugal in the 1966 World Cup. He was known to be Eusebio's greatest footballing partner and friend.
Mario Coluna

CM: Paulo Sousa (Portugal)
Paulo Sousa won two straight Champions League titles with two different clubs.  He won his first one in 1995 with Juventus and then, his second one in 1996 with Borussia Dortmund, where he beat his former team Juventus. He was a member of Portugal's Golden Generation that won won the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship. He had 52 caps, appearing in Euro 1996 and the 2002 World Cup Finals.

AM: Simao Sabrosa (Portugal)
Simao Sabrosa started his career with Sporting, but made his name with Benfica, where he became the captain.  He later played for Atletcio Madrid, winning the 2010 Europa League. For Portugal, he played in 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals, where he was a key player in 2010.  He also went to Euro 2008. He earned 85 caps between 1998 an 2010.

AM: Rui Costa (Portugal)
Rui Costa was one of the best players in the 1990's Portugal's Golden Generation. He was a part of the team that won the 1991 U-20 World Cup.  He starred for Benfica, Florentina and AC Milan. He won a Champions' League title with AC Milan in the 2003-2004 season.  He earned 94 caps fpr Portugal.  He represented the country in three UEFA European Championships and one FIFA World Cup. He led Portugal to the Final of European Championship at home, scoring a screamer against England.
Rui Costa
LW: Antonio Simoes (Portugal)
Antonio Simoes was a part of Benfica's famous squad of the 1960's.  He started to make an impact as a teenager. He was the youngest player ever to win an European Cup in 1962. He would win 10 league title with Benfica before moving to play in NASL.  He played 46 times for Portugal.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1966, where he scored against Brazil in that famous match.  

LW: Fernando Chalana (Portugal)
Fernando Chalana was a star of Benfica during the late 1970's.  He is the club's youngest ever goal scorer. He gained international flame at European Championship in 1984, especially during the epic match against the host France in the semi-final.  He set up two goals on that match. After the tournament, he moved to Bordeaux in France, but his career there was limited by injuries.  He returned to Benfica in 1987, but he never regained his form.
Fernando Chalana
RW: Jose Augusto (Portugal)
Jose Augusto was a part of  Benfica and Portugal's Golden Generation in the 1960s. He served as the right winger playing with Esuebio, Mario Coluna, etc. He started with  Barreirense.  He spent most of his career with Benfica where he won two European Cup titles and reached 3 other Finals in the 1960's.  He won 13 titles over there. He earned 45 caps between 1958 and 1968. He starred at the World Cup Finals 1966 with Portugal.

RW: Jaime Graca (Portugal)
Jaime Graca started his career with Vitoria FC before moving to Benfica in 1966.  He won 7 league titles with Benfica. Against Manchester United at the European Cup in 1968, he scored the equaliser that sent the Final into extra-time.  He was capped 36 times for Portugal.  He played every single match at the World Cup in 1966.

CF: Jose Augusto Torres (Portugal)
Jose Augusto Torres was one of Portugal's greatest player and a key member of the glorious Benfica's team of the 1960's.He played for them between 1959 and 1971, but he did not play on the winning team in 1961 and 1962.  He played for them in three other losing Finals in the 1960's. He was also a part of Portugal's team at the World Cup in 1966.  

ST: Nuno Gomes (Portugal)
Nuno Gomes was a star of Benfica.  Then, at Euro 2000, he became the 2nd highest scorer at the tournament, while taking Portugal to the semifinal.  His performance took him to Fiorentina in 2000. However, Fiorentina's financial collapse forced him to return to Benfica in 2002.  He was not the same player in his second stint, but he still managed to play until 2011.  For Portugal, he earned 79 caps.  His performance at Euro 2000 was his highlight as mentioned.
Nuno Gomes
ST: Nene (Portugal)
Nene played his entire career with Benfica.  He won 11 league titles between 1968 and 1986.  He was the Portuguese Player of the Year in 1971.  For the national team, he had 66 caps, which was a record for Portugal at the time.  He played on the team, where Portugal reached the semi-final of the Euro 1984 at the age of 34. He was the oldest ever goal scorer at the tournament at that time.

ST: Jose Aguas (Portugal)
Jose Aguas played for Benfica between 1950 and 1963. He was a senior member of the Golden Generation in the 1960s. He was the hero of Benfica's European Cup title in 1961 and 1962, captaining both teams while scoring the first goal at each Final.  He did not play in the 1963 Final against AC Milan. He left Benfica in 1963 and joined Austria Vienna. From 1952 to 1962, he was capped 25 times.

ST: Eusebio (Portugal)
Eusebio is probably Portugal's greatest player.  Along with Pele, he was considered to be the best player in the world during the 1960's.  He helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals (including four in one match against North Korea) and received the Bronze Ball award. He won the Ballon d'Or award for European footballer of the year in 1965. He played for Benfica 15 out of his 22 years as a footballer.  He won the European Cup in 1961.
Eusebio
Honorable Mention
Mats Magnusson, Rogerio Pipi, Antonio Veloso, Miguel,Vitor Baptista, Angel Di Maria, Sheu, Luisao, Oscar Cardozo, Pablo Aimar, Carlos ManuelToniPetit, Vitor PaneiraDimas Teixeira, Joao Pinto, Angelo Martins, Espirito Santo.

Squad Explanation
-- Eusebio and Mario Coluna are probably automatic selections.  They do not need introduction.  Rui Costa and Germano deserved a place on the list.
-- Eusenio, Mario Coluna, Germano, Rui Costa, Costa Pereira, Humberto Coelho, Alvaro, Paulo Sousa, Jose Augusto and Jose Aguas are on my All-Time Portugal team.
-- Obviously, this all-time team should be dominated by Benfica's Golden Generation in te 1960's.   I selected 7 of them from that era: Esuebio, Mario Coluna, Germano, Jose Augusto, Antonio Simoes, Jose Augusto Torres, Costa Pereira, Jose Aguas and Domiciano Cavem. I think that there should be more than seven players.
-- Portugal was also known for its Golden Generation between 1994 and 2006.  Their youth national team won two Under 20 World Cup: 1989 and 1991. Paulo Sousa and Rui Costa were the only players who won one of the World Youth Cups selected onto my all-time team.  Nuno Gomes later played with them on the senior national team, but he is younger than the class of 1989 and 1991.  Abel Xavier and Joao Pinto were ex-Benfica players from that generation, but I did not select them into my all-time team.
-- Portugal won the European Championship in 2016.  Benfica was under represented at the tournament.  None of Benfica's player were considered for this all-time team. Only two players, Renato Sanches and Eliseu from the Euro 2016 winning team were playing for Benfica at the time. They have four ex-Benfica players, namely Andre Gomes, Rafa Silva, Eduardo and Jose Fonte, but Eduardo and Jose Fonte barely played for the club when they were here. 
-- Rui Costa did not win much for Benfica.  He spent his prime outside of the club.  However, he was a home grown player.  I am sure most of the Benfica fans want him to be on this team.
-- I based many of my all-time club teams on their trophy winning teams.  Benifica has won too many league titles, but their European record is disappointing after the 1960's. Many people believed in the "curse of Béla Guttmann". Since their last European Cup victory in 1962, Benfica has lost 8 straight finals in various UEFA major tournaments.  Some of those losses altered the status of this team.
-- Rightback Antonio Veloso spent 15 seasons with Benfica, but I have two of Portugal's greatest rightbacks Domiciano Cavem and Artur ahead of him.
-- Luisão has won more titles here than anyone in history.  He captained Benfica into back-to-back Europa League Final in 2013 and 2014.  His status would have changed if he won either of them. However, I have Germano, Humberto Coelho, Ricardo Gomez and Carlos Mozer ahead of him.  These four centerbacks were all legendary status with the club.   He was not selected on my original team.  In December, 2019, I did a review of this.  I feel that he has done so much for the club.  So he replaced right-winger Karel Poborský.  Basically, I already have Jose Augusto and Jaime Graca on this team so Karel Poborský was expendable.
-- Ricardo Gomes would be a more famous player if he went to the 1994 World Cup Finals.  He was due to captain Brazil, but he missed the World Cup Finals through an injury.  He was a part of Benfica that reached the 1990 European Cup Final.  Jonas Thern was also a main player for the club at the time.
-- Mats Magnusson played in both 1988 and 1990 European Cup Finals.  His status within the club might be different if he lifted at least one of the cups.  Sweden also had a poor World Cup Finals in which affected his reputation.  He suffered a serious injury in the Finals and that also affected his club career here.  He only made honourable mention.
-- Oscar Cardozo is the highest scoring foreign player for the club, but his status was limited by not winning a big trophy in Europe. He played in both 2013 and 2014 Europa Cup Finals.  He also only made honourable mention.
-- Jose Augusto and Jose Augusto Torres played at the same time.
-- Stefan Schwarz and Jonas Therm also played with each for the Swedish national team and Malmo.  They were partially coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson in Benfica.
-- I exclude Maniche because his career with Benfica was very short.
-- Nene has the appearance recorder with the club.  He is also the third all-time leading scorer. 

Formation
I also started a frontline consisted entirely from the 1960's.   I wanted a team with a better mix.  So I used Fernando Chalana, instead of Antonio Simoes.  I also switched to 4-3-3 so that Rui Costa started in the place of Aguas. Rui Costa probably played his best football elsewhere, but his connection to Benfica earned me a starting spot.







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