It looks like some people in Portugal are pretty proud of Liverpool’s Champions League title, and those are the ones who took part in the squad’s preparation ten days ago.
Benfica’s B squad were invited to play the Reds in a friendly a week before the final against Tottenham Hotspur, as reported at the time.
And it turns out the Portuguese side were asked to emulate Spurs in a match in Marbella, according to their manager Renato Paiva.
Speaking to A Bola, he’s claimed that Jurgen Klopp’s side asked Benfica to help him with certain tactical systems, just so Liverpool could feel more prepared to face Mauricio Pochettino.
“Liverpool felt the need, after three weeks without competition, to make a friendly match. It was easy: It couldn’t be English teams because of leaks, couldn’t be Spanish teams because Pochettino had been in Spain many years, it couldn’t be French teams because Lloris is the keeper of the France national team. There was Portugal left”, Renato Paiva told A Bola (via Sapo).
“And there was a lot of weight – and I have to say it because we were told by Jurgen Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders. – the quality of young players of Benfica. They looked the B team at the time third in the Liga 2, knew of the move of Florentino and Ferro to the first team. They don’t walk around distracted and could see it in the meetings. They saw the team playing and found similarities with Tottenham. Then came the choice”.
Liverpool’s invite was sent to Pedro Marques, who’s the director of Benfica’s academy. The B squad, who finished the Portuguese second division in fourth place, had a flight to Marbella paid by Liverpool, and had a good chance to meet the Champions League finalists and make them prepared for the big game.
“The B team had to move to Marbella three days before and meet Liverpool’s technical staff, who was perfectly in tune with what Benfica B were in technical-tactical terms, what Tottenham were like. Benfica B were asked to adopt some behaviors: two defensive players, two offensive players, as well as behavioral tactics on set pieces, similar to the ones that Tottenham do and could do in the Champions League final. For us to be a little more Tottenham and less Benfica B.”
“We replicated the build ups of Tottenham, defend in 4-2-3-1 with the striker cutting between the defenders and the number 10 trying to obstruct and stifle Liverpool’s 6. And then in the offensive process, playing the ball out with three between the defenders and the goalkeeper. The players were aware of what they should do with Kane and company. I prepared a lecture and dissected four stages, the two defensive and two offensive, with their names and with the names of the players from Tottenham underneath. Everything prepared in theory at the hotel and then replicated in training. Vinicius made a little of Eriksen, would come more inside, Bernardo was more of Dele Alli…”
Now the Benfica kids can brag at school saying the Reds have only won the Champions League because they were well prepared thanks to them.