Champions League group stage recap: Benfica better group stage heavyweights
Wednesday, 15 February 2023
Paris could not beat them and Juventus were overcome twice as Benfica impressed in winning Group H.
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An early victory against Juventus in Turin signalled their intent with home and away draws against Paris setting Roger Schmidt's men up nicely to progress.
There was still plenty of drama to come, though, with contrasting seven-goal thrillers in Benfica's last two games leading to a dramatic first-place finish in the section.
Campaign so far
Group H winners: W4 D2 L0 F16 A7
Top scorer: João Mário, Rafa Silva (4)
06/09: Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa (Rafa Silva 50, Grimaldo 54)
14/09: Juventus 1-2 Benfica (Milik 4; João Mário 43pen, Neres 55)
05/10: Benfica 1-1 Paris (Danilo 41og; Messi 22)
11/10: Paris 1-1 Benfica (Mbappé 40 pen; João Mário 62 pen)
25/10: Benfica 4-3 Juventus (António Silva 17, João Mário 28pen, Rafa Silva 35 50; Kean 21, Milik 77, McKennie 79)
02/11: Maccabi Haifa 1-6 Benfica (Chery 26pen; Gonçalo Ramos 20, Musa 59, Grimaldo 69, Rafa Silva 73, Henrique Araújo 88, João Mário 90+2)
Campaign in ten words: Bold, confident side full of class: a match for anyone.
UEFA.com Benfica reporter
Roger Schmidt arrived at Benfica in the summer with a view to giving the Eagles a makeover, a new sense of identity. He has worked wonders, his side embarking on a long unbeaten run from the start of the season, and sensationally qualifying for the round of 16 as group winners. Before that momentous Matchday 6 triumph away at Maccabi Haifa, they beat Juve away and at home and drew 1-1 twice with Paris; no side will relish meeting them in the knockout phase.
How do Benfica play?
The German gegenpress with a heavy Portuguese accent. Lining up in a 4-2-3-1, they press from the off. Attacking full-backs, wingers who can overload the midfield, a supersonic Rafa Silva and a hard-working attacker in Gonçalo Ramos. They mix youth and experience at the back and Florentino is an octopus whose long limbs can do it all. Add in David Neres's capacity for invention and you have the recipe for something special.
Fantasy star performers
Alejandro Grimaldo – 47 points
João Mário – 41 points
Rafa Silva – 39 points
In: Pedro Santos*, Gonçalo Guedes, João Neves*, Diego Moreira*, Zan Jevsenak*, Samuel Soares, Henrique Pereira*, Cher N'Dour*, Gerson Sousa*, Andreas Schjelderup, Luis Semedo*, Casper Tengstedt
Out: Henrique Araújo, Gil Dias, John Brooks, Diogo Gonçalves, Enzo Fernández, Paulo Bernardo, Helton Leite, Martim Neto, Rodrigo Pinho, João Victor
Clubs had until 24:00 CET on Thursday 2 February to register a maximum of three new eligible players prior to the knockout stage. Since 2018/19, it no longer matters whether those players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.
- Matchday 6 was the first time Benfica had scored six goals in a Champions League game, group stage to final.
- Aged 18 years 359 days, António Silva became Benfica's second youngest scorer in the Champions League, group stage to final, behind Gonçalo Guedes.
- Benfica's home draw with Paris means they are still unbeaten against French visitors in Lisbon (W11 D5).