I still love playing this Benfica challenge, but three to four seasons into the series the writing has grown a bit stale. It feels like we’re basically repeating the same season review all over again, which gets a bit boring. Therefore I’ll jump from the last post’s 3rd season review into the 4th season review, which I’ll try to keep as short as possible. Let’s fast forward!
The Champions League
Let’s jump straight into the action. We’re one step closer to the aim of this series, the ultimate goal. The Champions League title! With two group stage games left to play Benfica were dead last with 2 points and I feared us missing out on both Champions League and Europa League. Two solid wins against Roma and Kyiv saw us pass them both and qualify for the first knockout round!
With a 2nd place finish we knew we’d be pitted against one of the group winners. After looking through all the groups it became apparent that this was going to provide us with a tough opponent no matter what.
We got Arsenal, which seems to be the best possible draw for us, considering the strength of the rest of the seeded teams. Arsenal will not be a push-over, that’s not what I’m saying, but compared to Real Madrid or Manchester United they look much more beatable.
After two solid performances, we were through to the quarter-final once again. This is where things are really starting to get rough and it was at this point we were knocked out last season.
Well, there were no easy teams left, but this is potentially one of the toughest draws imaginable! We will face former Benfica players Sandro Tonali and Josha Vagnoman along with long term players de Bruyne, Laporte, Sterling and Aguero and new arrivals Icardi, Alli, Milinkovic-Savic and Dier. Quite the challenge for our young team!
We didn’t manage to stand up against the big boys this time around either. It seems to be our destiny to be knocked out in the Champions League quarter-final season after season.
Next season we’ll get one final chance to better that result because…
The Portuguese Premier League
…we won the league in quite comfortable giving us a ticket straight into next season’s Champions League group stage.
We’ll skip the other team results. Both the U19s and U23s performed well as usual, let’s leave it at that and focus a bit on the players leaving us.
Falling off the conveyor belt – players out
We lost one of our biggest talents which was a big loss for us, but if you don’t want to play for the club it’s better to move you along. Moustapha Fall suddenly fell out of love with the club and refused to sign a new contract. When Borussia Dortmund came in with a €45M bid for him with one year left on his contract Ronaldo didn’t really have any other option but to let him go.
Star striker Mladen Stepcic also left the team. It’s always sad to see our best player leave the team, but since I’m forced to sell the players at age 22 at the latest it’s the name of the game. Just suck it up!
We got a nice pile of cash for Mladen, but got even more money for the players that stayed with us a little longer.
The end of the line – Say goodbye to the 00s!
For the first time in the series we had quite a few players that rode the conveyor belt all the way to the end, leaving the club at age 22. This provided the club with quite a large sum of money, since six of the “graduates” left for €15M or more.
Personal favorite and midfielder-turned-right wing back Brandon Baiye brought in the most money in a €35M move to Chelsea that could potentially bring in even more money.
Captain and fan favorite Pedro Álvaro left for Dortmund for €30M. He’ll leave a huge gap both on and off the pitch.
Much to my surprise back-up goalkeeper Celton Biai brought in quite a hefty transfer fee in a €24.5M move to Everton, that could potentially turn into €34M.
We earned a bit of cash on the other guys above as well, giving us a transfer income of around €250M in total for the season.
In the next episode we’ll address a couple of changes as manager Ronaldo tries to push for the Champions League title in the series fifth and final season! Is it really impossible to win the Champions League with only U21 players? I refuse to believe that and I hope that we’ll get past that cursed quarter-final in our final season to pose a serious CL threat.
Thanks for reading another excellent post by Mikaelinho. You can follow him on Twitter here:
- Twitter: @mikaelinhofm