Thursday, August 18, 2016

Benfica Greatest All-time Team

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

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
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)
Portugal Goalkeeper of the Year for 8 times.  He represented Portugal at the Euro 1984 and the 1986 World Cup, helping the national team reach the semifinals in the former tournament. He earned 63 caps.  He played over 630 appearances for Benfica.

GK:  Costa Pereira (Portugal)
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 finals in 1963 and 1965. 

RB: Domiciano Cavem (Portugal)
The starting rightback for the Golden Generation of the 1960's.  He could play as forward, midfielder and fullback.He won two European Cup, but was overlooked for the World Cup Finals in 1966.

RB: Artur Correia (Portugal)
Artur played for both Benfica, Sporting and New England Tea Men. He earned 34 caps.

CB: Humberto Coelho (Portugal)
He was Portugal's cap record holder at one point.  Known as the "Beckenbauer of Portugal".  He played with Benfica and Paris St. Germain.  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 Gomez (Brazil)
He started his career with Fluminense at home before joining Benfica in 1988.  He would then join Paris St.Germaine in 1991.  He went to play in Italia 1990, 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 WC Finals.

CB: Carlos Mozer (Brazil)
Mozer started his career with Flamengo.  In Europe, he played for Benfica on two different spells and went to with Marseille in between. With Marseille, he reached the European Cup Final. He went to Italia 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 WC finals in 1966, but did not play well and lost his captaincy.

LB: Alvaro  (Portugal)
He 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. He was Portugal's starting leftback for the Euro 1984 in France and World Cup 1986 in Mexico.

CM/LB: Stefan Schwarz (Sweden)
He played with Malmo, Benfica, Arsenal, Fiorentina, Valencia and Sunderland. He was Sweden Player of the Year in 1989.  He was a part of Sweden's WC team that finished 3rd in 1994.

Stefan Schwarz

DM: Jonas Thern (Sweden)
He captained the Sweden squad that finished third at the 1994 World Cup. He played for Malmö FF, FC Zürich, Benfica, Napoli, Roma and Rangers. 

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. 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 friend and his top assister on the field.
Mario Coluna

CM: Paulo Sousa (Portugal)
He won two straight Champions League titles with two different clubs.  He on his one in 1995 with Juventus  and then, in 1996 with Borussia Dortmund. He was a member of Portugal's Golden Generation that won won the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship. 

AM: Simao Sabrosa (Portugal)
Started his career with Sporting, but made his name with Benfica, where he became the captain.  He later played for Atletcio Madrid. He played in 2006 and 2010 WC Finals, where he was a key player in 2010.  He also went to Euro 2008. He earned 85 caps.

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 Euro 2004 Final at home.  
Rui Costa

RW: Karel Poborsky (Czech Republic)
He first attracted international recognition at Euro 1996, where the Czech Republic reached the Final.  He made a dream move to Manchester United.  After two seasons, he went to Benfica.  His impression careers there led to another move to Lazio.  For the national team, he earned 118 caps.

LW: Antonio Simoes (Portugal)
Part of Benfica's famous squad of the 1960's.  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 North America.  He went to the WC Finals in 1966, where he scored against Brazil in that famous match.  

LW: Fernando Chalana (Portugal)
Chalana was a star of Benfica during the late 1970's.  He gained international flame at Euro 1984, especially during the epic match against France in the semi-final.  He set up two goals on that match. After the tournament, he moved to Bordeaux.
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 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. He starred at the World Cup Finals 1966 with Portugal.

RW: Jaime Graca (Portugal)
He started his career with Vitoria FC before moving to Benfica in 1966.  Against Manchester United at the European Cup in 1968, he scored the equaliser.  He played every single match at the WC in 1966.

CF: Jose Augusto Torres (Portugal)
He was one of Portugal's greatest player and a key member of the glorious, Benfica's team of the 1960's, but he was not on the winning team in 1961.  He was also a part of Portugal's team at the WC 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, taking Portugal to the semifinal.  His performance took him to Fiorentina.  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.

Nuno Gomes

ST: Nene (Portugal)
Nene played his entire career with Benfica.  He won 11 league titles.  He was Portuguese Player of the Year in 1971.  For the national team, he led them to the semi-final of the Euro 1984 at the age of 34. 

ST: Jose Aguas (Portugal)
He was the hero of Benfica's first European Cup title in 1961.  He won one more European Cup title a year later.  He was a part of the Golden Generation in the 1960s. He starred at the WC 1966 with Portugal.  He left Benfica in 1963 and joined Austria Vienna.

ST: Eusebio (Portugal)
He 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 and was runner-up in 1962 and 1966. He played for Benfica 15 out of his 22 years as a footballer.  He won the European Cup in 1961.


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.

Squad Explanation
-- I am not familiar with Benfica.  I am certain that I missed a few great players. I exclude Maniche because his career with Benfica was not as good.

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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