I watched the opening game of the 2010 Guadiana Cup last night between hosts Benfica and Feyenoord which finished in a very entertaining 4-1 victory for the Portuguese side. They also followed that up with a 5-4 victory in a penalty shoot out.
Feyenoord opened the scoring just 3 minutes into the match with a breakaway goal that broke the offside trap laid by the extremely high Benfica backline and left a relatively simple finish one-on-one with Roberto in goal.
From there, Benfica took control of the game and apart from a couple of spells of pressure, the Dutch side didn’t threaten much, looking to hit the hosts on the counter.
For all of Benfica’s dominance, they weren’t able to find an equaliser during the first half. They play a tight diamond formation and look to use the full backs to provide the width, particularly down their left. Although it should be noted that centre half David Luiz – a much rumoured target of Man City – absolutely loves to bomb forward and isn’t shy of unleashing from distance.
Benfica made several changes at half time, key being the introduction of striker Óscar Cardozo who had a hand in three of the four second half goals, scoring the first two and assisting on the fourth.
If they play, Cardozo, Luiz and possibly Fábio Coentrão, who also loves to get forward, will be the danger men for Benfica, but with the likes of Pablo Aimar, Nuno Gomes and Javier Saviola in the armory, they’re clearly a very tough side.
That said, we’ll have to see what sort of team they send out on Sunday night as they’ll have more than half an eye on their own flagship match, the Eusébio Cup, which will see them host Tottenham on Tuesday. In it’s third year, it’s a single match played at their stadium back in Lisbon, the two previous visitors being AC Milan and Inter.
As for Feyenoord, I think they only made one change and intend to send an entirely different, younger team out against Villa tonight. Aside from goalkeeper Van Dijk and right back Dani Fernández, expect to see a side made up of players in the late teens and early 20s.
And finally, don’t run off straight after the final whistle as the teams will also contest a penalty shoot out. With only 3 teams in the Guadiana Cup, the penalty shoot out is a preemptive measure to provide a tie-breaker should one be required to determine the overall winner after Sunday’s final game.
Overall, the two games against Feyenoord tonight and Benfica tomorrow night will provide an excellent workout and opportunity to use all 23 players at MON’s disposal and, hopefully, some entertaining football.
I’ll be covering both games with a live blog, starting an hour or so before kick off (9.30pm tonight, 9.15pm Sunday), so stop back if you fancy following along with me.