Quietly, with a friendly crossing, but also with the fruit of an outstanding European campaign in a season in which they have only beaten them once (their eliminations in the domestic cup competitions came without defeats and they barely lost against Braga in the League ), Benfica enters for the second consecutive year among the eight best teams in Europe. It does so with the seal of a mature team, full of resources, talented, but above all with the vertical and passionate style promoted by the German Roger Schmidt. He fires the imagination in every way the historic Portuguese team, a covert with the ability to complicate anyone. Neither Paris Saint-Germain nor Juventus have beaten them in this Champions League, much less did Bruges, first beaten in Belgium and beaten, finally, in the second leg in Lisbon (5-1).
Vlachodimos, Antonio Tavares Da Sila, Otamendi (Morato, min. 74), Grimaldo, Alexander Bah, Chiquinho (David Neres, min. 62), Florentino, João Mário (João Neves, min. 74), Rafa Silva, Aursnes and Goncalo bouquets
Mignolet, Mechele, Clinton Mata (Odoi, min. 62), Abakar Sylla, Bjorn Meijer, Tajon Buchanan, Vanaken (Rits, min. 74), C. Nielsen, Kamal Sowah, Yaremchuk (Jutglà, min. 62) and Noa Lang (Raphael Onyedika Nwadike, min. 45)
goals 1-0 min. 37: Rafael Silva. 2-0 min. 46: Goncalo Ramos. 3-0 min. 56: Goncalo Ramos. 4-0 min. 70: Joao Mario. 5-0 min. 77: David Neres. 5-1 min. 87: Bjorn Meijer.
Referee Halil Umut Meler
Yellow cards Yaremchuk (min. 17), Noa Lang (min. 20), Otamendi (min. 28), Abakar Sylla (min. 43) and Bjorn Meijer (min. 48)
There was no option for surprise, for the advantage of two Benfica goals from the first leg to be put into discussion. In the first minute an offside by Gonçalo Ramos frustrated a goal from João Mário’s back heel, a warning that Bruges digested as best they could because shortly after the same midfielder returned to scan the goal with a shot that Meijer took under the sticks. When Brujas seemed to get up from so much anxiety they gave them two slaps and, before the break, everything was sentenced. They decided Rafa Silva, a midfielder who is on the podium of the most underrated in Europe, and Gonçalo Ramos. They were both category samples, a finish with the outside and a goldsmith maneuver between rival legs.
Bruges is in demolition. No sign of the team that left Atlético behind in the group stage. Since returning to competition after the World Cup, he has played fourteen games with just two victories. Gonçalo Ramos shone again against the goal at the start of the second half and opened a football festival in which Benfica barely loosened its pressure greed, nor did it stop giving rhythm to the
ball to the despair of a rival who chased him and collected mistakes, such as the kick in the area with which the center-back Sylla stopped Gilberto so that João Mário scored from eleven meters. David Neres, who exemplifies the level of a team that cannot find a place for it in its eleven, initialed the review after the intervention of video arbitration. Meijer vindicated Bruges with a left-footed shot to the squad when it was all over.
Benfica dreams, a gigantic club that defies a curse, the one that the scorned coach Bela Guttmann, who led him to win two European Cups, launched 61 years ago when a request for a salary increase was answered with a dismissal. It was then that he predicted that the club would never raise its big ears again. And if..?
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.