Women’s Champions League: Benfica expects an aggressive opponent and bet on direct play

Benfica expects, in the Women’s Champions League, on Wednesday, an Apollon Limassol that favors direct play, with offensive speed, which has earned it an average of five goals per game so far.

Apollon, as far as we know, is a team, first of all, aggressive. It is a team that in the games they played, scored a lot of goals“, began by pointing out the ‘red’ coach, Filipa Patão.

On Wednesday, Apollon Limassol and Benfica face each other in the first leg of the second round of the group stage of the Women’s Champions League, a competition in which Benfica tries to be among the 16 best in Europe for the third time.

Earlier, Benfica eliminated Cliftonville (8-1) and SFK Riga (4-0), while the Cypriot champions thrashed Macedonia’s Ljuboten (9-0) and also beat Georgia’s FC Samegrelo (3-0).

Performances, combined with two more games in the Cyprus championship, leave Wednesday’s opponent with a record of 20 goals scored and none conceded, in the four games they have played so far this season.

It’s a team that ends up looking for a more direct game. Look for a lot of diagonals for the side runners or the deep attack. It is a team that is very objective in this chapter“, analyzed the Benfica coach.

Filipa Patão expects an opponent who will not take risks, betting on a more vertical game and with less ball possession.

For this match, the three-time national champions are still without Pauleta and Valéria, as well as the Icelandic reinforcement Svava Gudmundsdóttir, injured and with a planned four-month layoff, in addition to Andreia Norton, with a muscle injury.

Returning is Jéssica Silva, who missed the start of the season, also due to injury, but who was already an option on Saturday, when she came on in the last quarter of an hour to replace Marta Cintra in the visit to Atlético Ouriense.

For the ‘Champions League’, the doubt persists if Filipa Patão will keep Marta Cintra, who has scored in the last two games, or if she will bring in Jéssica Silva, in a scenario that the coach of the ‘eagles’ preferred not to clarify,

Whether it’s Marta, whether it’s Jessica, whether it’s Nicole, whether it’s any other player. I’m sure that anyone will give a good response“, said the coach, even putting the possibility of the two ‘coexisting’ in the starting 11, in an attack that has also had Kika Nazareth and Nicole Raysla.

Marta Cintra: “Prepared for whatever comes and goes”

Marta Cintra, present today at the preview conference, also said she does not know if she will be the starting option, although there is some confidence.

“I think so, but I can’t say more than that. We are all confident, but the decision is not ours, we can’t do anything,” said the Brazilian forward.

Regarding the game, Marta Cintra said there are still doubts about how Apollon will enter, but assured that she is convinced that Benfica is prepared “for whatever ‘comes and goes'” and “focused” on the game, to reach the group stage.

In this new model, Benfica managed to reach that stage in 2021/22 (third place in a group with Lyon, Bayern Munich, and Hacken) and then in 2022/23 (third in a group with European champions FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Rosengard).

In their debut, in 2020/21, without a group stage, the ‘Eagles’ won the first two rounds, defeating PAOK and Anderlecht, and fell in the round of 16, against Chelsea.

Wednesday’s match against Apollon is scheduled to kick off at 16:00 local time (14:00 in Lisbon), at the Tsirion Stadium, in Limassol, and will be refereed by Kazakhstan’s Elvira Nurmustafina, with the second leg scheduled for October 18, in Seixal.