THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

27 March ~ Over the last decade, Chelsea have been most Portuguese football supporters' favourite English team. It is a mythical part of England where players and coaches from the Portuguese league go to become richer than they ever imagined. Most were cherry-picked from Porto, but Brazilians Ramires and David Luiz were recent Benfica favourites and their return, Luiz's in particular, is greatly anticipated for this Champions League quarter-final. At Benfica, much like he is at Chelsea, Luiz had excellent technical ability but couldn't read the game to save his life.

Despite this, his likable personality and good looks meant he was enormously popular with the fans, especially kids, females and the notorious No Name Boys ultras. The love-in between them will be nauseatingly ever-present from the moment Luiz sets foot in the Luz. It will probably go to his curly-haired head.

Luiz's team-mate, Didier Drogba, will be on the opposite end of the Luz faithful's attention. The Portuguese media have made a big deal of a Chelsea TV clip featuring Drogba's mocking reaction after learning Chelsea were drawn against Benfica in the Champions League. It doesn't take much for Benfiquistas to villainise an opposition player, and the press insistence of a loss of honour to such a European giant is tiresome. However, it is a dangerous game given Drogba's colour . I fear an unfortunate repetition of the recent reaction Mario Balotelli was given from Porto fans is sadly inevitable.

On the pitch, things are not going so well for Benfica. The young striker Rodrigo, who will be familiar to Bolton supporters, was developing into a fine supporting striker, providing pace and movement for the static first-choice forward Oscar Cardozo. But Rodrigo was sidelined by a bad Bruno Alves tackle in the previous round of the Champions League against Zenit. Benfica subsequently threw away a five-point lead in the domestic title, with their hopes of winning it dwindling by the week.

With Rodrigo losing his starting place, Benfica have lost the imagination and movement he provided up front. The Benfica boss, Jorge Jesus, will want him to feature in the game, but he is a shadow of the player he was earlier in the season. Since his loss of form, smaller Portuguese clubs have been defending deep and grabbing points from Benfica.

Many hope that Chelsea will not play this way, providing Benfica with more space to attack. Whatever happens, with Luiz playing in defence for Chelsea, Benfiquistas can assure themselves that they will have chances to score. Stephen Burrows

Comments (7)
Comment by erwin 2012-03-27 14:12:30

One can only hope that when Benfica score, the goal celebration involves the players doing a wobbly-leg dance. And if it could happen three or four times, that would be nice.

Comment by Analogue Bubblebath II 2012-03-28 00:33:35

When.

"his likable personality and good looks"

??????????

Comment by steveeeeeeeee 2012-03-28 10:21:36

Portugal is a country where João Vieira Pinto and Fabio Coentrão are considered heart-throbs. Compared to them, David Luiz is a shining, golden adonis.

Comment by Coral 2012-03-28 10:30:01

But surely Luiz cannot hold a candle to Figo or the self styled sexiest man in the world, Ronaldo

Comment by Alex Anderson 2012-03-28 10:39:08

Excellent article.

Analogue Bubblebath II - LOL! Sitting up all night, praying Benfica don't score so you can come on and be all bravely sarcastic after-the-fact. Nice to see your modus operandi doesn't change mate, no matter the topic. It doesn't take Freud to work out why "likeable personality" cut you to the core.

Do us all a favour and ensure the toaster's plugged in next time ye take it into that bubblebath with ye.

Prat.

Comment by Max Payne 2012-03-28 12:29:08

Comment by Analogue Bubblebath II 2012-03-28 14:25:14

"Analogue Bubblebath II - LOL! Sitting up all night, praying Benfica don't score so you can come on and be all bravely sarcastic after-the-fact. Nice to see your modus operandi doesn't change mate, no matter the topic. It doesn't take Freud to work out why "likeable personality" cut you to the core.

Do us all a favour and ensure the toaster's plugged in next time ye take it into that bubblebath with ye."

I think you might want to seek professional help. That's what I think.

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