With three Portuguese Primeira Liga titles on the bounce, there is no question that Benfica are the current dominating force in Portugal. They have consistently batted off the challenge from rivals Porto and neighbours Sporting Lisbon, and with a great history in Europe, that is where the Aguias need to turn their attentions to. To put things into perspective, Benfica are currently top of the table in Portugal, and now that they have got through their Champions League group, they need to capitalise. A round of 16 clash with Borussia Dortmund is a very winnable tie, and with inconsistent performers all over Europe, there is a great opportunity for the Portuguese club to reach the last four for the first time this century.
You may think that there may be a step down in quality in Portugal in comparison to the big league in Europe, but looking at Benfica’s side, and more importantly the potential of it, they can go toe-to-toe with any of the big guns. For that reason, they are an excellent choice on FIFA 17’s Career Mode, with a large squad that requires very little work that has more to give.
How you should lineup
Benfica coach Rui Vitoria, uses a strange formation of 4-1-3-2, which Portugal adopted during Euro 2016, but it fits the team perfectly. If you are struggling to get to grips with it, you can go for a simpler 4-4-2, or an attacking 4-1-2-1-2.
In goal, the experienced Julio Cesar is your first choice, but with the 22-year-old Ederson having a great potential of 86, you will want to give the understudy game time where possible.
The back four has a blend of youth and experience, with the talented full backs of Nelson Semedo and Grimaldo joined by solid centre halves Lisandro Lopez and Mario Jardel. Victor Lindelof has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, and you will want to get the 21-year-old on the pitch when you can, so he can fulfil his 86 potential.
The midfield is fairly straightforward, with Ljubomir Fejsa the man protecting the back four, and Pizzi in the centre. Out wide, Rafa is on the left, and you then have the option of Eduardo Salvio or Andre Carillo on the right-hand side.
Up top, you can’t look past Kostas Mitroglou and Jonas, but there are plenty of back up options with Raul Jimenez and Gonçalo Guedes waiting in the wings.
On the bench, you should have Ederson, Victor Lindelof, Andre Almedia, Danilo, Andre Carillo, Raul Jimenez and Gonçalo Guedes.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £17 million
Starting wage budget: £41,000
Who should go
With Benfica having a virtually complete squad, next to no players need to leave the Estadio da Luz. The only candidate is goalkeeper Paulo Lopes, who could be retiring anyway, but try and sell the 38-year-old for close to £100,000.
What the team needs
The problem the Portuguese league has is the lack of money. Fortunately for you, Benfica needs next to no work, so you could very easily decide to save your money this season. But if you do win a pre-season tournament, you could have an extra £8 million at your disposal, and you could make a couple of shrewd signings if you have £25 million in the transfer kitty. However, a wage budget of just over £40,000 really stunts you, and you will need to shift around your transfer-wage allowance in order to secure some deals.
The full-backs are the weak link in the Benfica side, but with both Nelson Semedo and Grimaldo having great potentials, this only needs to be a part-time fix, which works in your favour. Look to sign some full-backs coming towards the end of their careers, and in the final year of their contracts to get them super cheap.
At right back, Manchester City’s Bacary Sagna should be your man, with the French international only costing around £8 million. His composure, marking, standing and sliding tackles, jumping and stamina are all rated 84, making up his 82 overall rating. You should be able to get away with the 33-year-old’s £43,000 wages.
– Stephan Lichtsteiner – Juventus, Age 32, OVR 83, POT 83, Cost: £16 million, Wage: £65,000
– Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City, Age 31, OVR 82, POT 82, Cost: £12 million, Wage: £65,000
– Antonio Valencia – Manchester United, Age 30, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £11.5 million, Wage: £43,000
– Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea, Age 32 OVR 80, POT 80, Cost: £7 million, Wage: £43,000
You may struggle to bring in a left back as well, but if you sell the 77-rated Eliseu, you could finance the move. With an added £36,000 to your wages, you might just be able to sign Juventus man Patrice Evra. The Frenchman costs just £5 million, with £43,000 wages. His 82-overall rating is comprised of 89 jumping, 86 interceptions and 86 sliding tackles.
– Benoit Tremoulinas – Sevilla, Age 30, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £16 million, Wage: £43,000
– Gael Clichy – Manchester City, Age 30, OVR 80, POT 80, Cost: £10 million, Wage: £43,000
With such a big squad, it’s not the lack of current quality that sends a few players out on loan from Benfica, it’s more that if they stayed, they wouldn’t be able to get much game time with so much competitiveness in the squad. Jose Gomes, Branimir Kalaica and Guillermo Celis all have potentials in the 80s, and just one year away from the club could bring them into first team contention.
Only two players have contracts running out at the end of the season, but with such a tight wage budget, you may opt against giving them new deals. Luisao is 35-years-old, and is the fourth choice centre back at the club. His overall rating will rapidly decline this season, so it won’t be long before he becomes unreliable.
It’s a not such a dissimilar story with left back Eliseu who has maxed out his potential at 77. If you do decide to bring in a new full-back, there is no point in keeping the 32-year-old at the club.
It’s a no-nonsense approach from the Benfica board as regard to your managerial objectives, with no goals below a medium priority. As you would expect, domestic success is still the number one aim, and you must win both the Primeira Liga and the Portuguese Cup.
For continental success, you need to qualify for the ‘Champions Cup’, and reach the quarters or semis of the competition within two seasons. Brand exposure also has a high priority, and you will need to earn around £25 million from shirt sales over the season, which can be achieved by bringing in big name signings, scoring plenty and maintaining strong form.
As for youth development, you will need to bring two or three players through the youth academy, grow them by ten overall points and play them in five matches over the season. Often these will need to be players with potentials over 75.
Lastly, you may need to increase the club’s worth by 50 percent over three seasons, and to achieve this you will need to capture silverware whilst maintaining a profit.
Back to the European throne?
That’s a tough set of managerial objectives. The need to maintain a profit and bring through youth players may dent your possibility of bringing in any players in your first season. But, as we mentioned before, this Benfica side doesn’t need much strengthening. With or without any transfer deals, you should still complete a domestic double, but your European challenge will still be a tough task.
With Benfica ranging from reaching the Champions League quarter-finals to not even getting out of the Europa League group stage over the past decade, your minimum aim should be to get out of your ‘Champions Cup’ group. A trip to the last eight is well within your grasp, and that target of the semi-finals within two seasons is realistic. If you keep all of your high potential players at the club, Benfica could become the European superpower that it was in the 1960s. The club won two European Cups back then, and with greats such as Rui Costa, David Luiz and Nico Gaitain coming through the club this century, and it being the home of the legend Eusebio, it’s time Benfica did him proud.
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