SRoger Schmidt quickly downplayed his part in Benfica’s entry into the round of 16 in the Champions League. “This is Benfica, it has nothing to do with Schmidt,” said the German coach of the Portuguese record champions late Tuesday evening. “It has to do with the players, how they play – with high quality, mentality and a good team spirit. Without all of that, it would be impossible to play so well all the time.”
Benfica defeated the Italian record champions Juventus Turin 4:3 and thus not only made it into the knockout stage on the fifth day of the game, but also eliminated the favorites. “I appreciate enormously what the players are doing, what the fans are doing. Today was a big day for Benfica,” emphasized Schmidt.
The PSV Eindhoven coach arrived in the Portuguese capital in the summer and things are going really well at Benfica. After ten games in the league, the club has a six-point lead over Braga and long-time rivals FC Porto. In the Champions League, the march through Group H followed on Tuesday, although Darwin Núñez, the top star, switched to Jürgen Klopps FC Liverpool in the summer for around 80 million euros. “Experiencing these moments, qualifying for the round of 16 at home in the fifth Champions League game, that’s something very special,” enthused coach Schmidt.
criticism of Allegri
National player Julian Draxler was missing from the success. He is out for the time being due to a muscle injury he sustained in the top game against FC Porto last Friday. The 29-year-old is currently on loan at Benfica from Paris Saint-Germain. According to “Bild”, Draxler is said to be on the provisional squad list with a maximum of 55 players from national coach Hansi Flick (57), who the German Football Association has reported to the world association FIFA. Flick only wants to announce the names of the maximum of 26 players on November 10th, who he will also take to the World Cup four days later.
Massimiliano Allegri, coach of opponents Juventus Turin, on the other hand, has completely different problems. For the first time since 2014, Juventus missed the knockout stages – and how. Three points after five games: the Serie A club had never scored fewer points at this point. “We are disappointed and angry,” scolded coach Allegri after the match and complained: “We were far too hesitant on the defensive.” It should also be much more uncomfortable for the 55-year-old. His critics are increasing, because Turin also disappoints in the domestic league as the bottom of the table.
“Juventus didn’t play any football at all for 70 minutes and made so many mistakes in defence,” said former striker Fabrizio Ravanelli, who won the premier club with Juventus in 1996. Should Makkabi Haifa do better against Benfica than Juventus against Paris Saint-Germain next Wednesday (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Champions League and on DAZN), the traditional club would even miss out on participating in the Europa League. “We now have to focus on the league and on Paris,” Allegri demanded.
Even before the last matchday in the Champions League, the country’s gazettes mercilessly settled accounts with the fallen series champion from a sporting point of view. “Black and white disgrace: Juve ends up in hell,” wrote the “Gazetta dello Sport”: “Benfica humiliates the old lady who is betrayed by the old guard of players.”
The newspaper “Tuttosport” asked on the front page under a photo of Allegris: “Who pays for the damage?” The newspaper calculated that Juventus would now lose at least 25 million euros in income. In September, the traditional club reported a record loss of 254.4 million euros for the previous season. In addition, there is a risk of legal trouble: the public prosecutor is investigating the association for accounting fraud in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
As the prosecutors announced on Wednesday, the amounts at stake are 115 million euros, which the club has noted in the books from fictitious evaluations of its players. The sports court of the Italian association FIGC had already acquitted Juventus and other clubs in this case. The lawyers at Juventus Turin are therefore not assuming any criminal offense.
Allegri, who had never failed in the group stage before, is counted: “Four defeats in five games are an embarrassing record for Allegri, who has to tremble for his coaching chair,” said the Turin daily “La Stampa”. The “Gazetta dello Sport” was even clearer: “Allegri, there is nothing left to save here.” It will be a while before the old lady comes to rest.