AFC Bournemouth visit Lisbon on Sunday evening for a prestigious friendly against Benfica at Estadio da Luz.
The Cherries take on Jorge Jesus' side in a 7pm kick-off, the fixture representing Jason Tindall's first opportunity to look at his side in pre-season ahead of the Championship start on 12th September.
Introducing the Eagles
With 37 Portuguese titles, eight clear of the field, Benfica are the most successful side in the Portugal’s footballing history and they make up one third of the country’s so-called big three, alongside Porto and Sporting.
However, after winning four of the last five titles, the Eagles relinquished their crown to Porto when the elongated season closed in July, the next weekend suffering a similar fate when they lost 2-1 in the Portuguese Cup final to the same newly-crowned champions.
Benfica bowed out of the Champions League at the group stage in 2019/21, but only by a slender margin in a very difficult group. The side claimed wins over Lyon and Zenit St Petersburg, but were edged out by a single point by the French side and RB Leipzig, both of whom went on to reach the semi-finals of the competition.
Parachuting into the Europa League, Benfica were edged out in an exciting second round tie with another eventual semi-finalist in Shakhtar Donetsk, losing 5-4 over two legs.
Manager – Jorge Jesus
A midfielder over a number of years in the top flight as a player, Jesus had to bide his time when moving into management, helping a number of teams make it to and retain their top flight places over two decades before a season at Braga prompted Benfica to offer him their top job in 2009.
Over six years he would claim three league titles, seven cups and two spots in Europa League finals as he finally earned recognition as one of the continent’s top coaches.
Three years with cross-city rivals Sporting – where Jesus had begun his playing career – followed, before a stint in Saudi Arabia with Al Hillal came to a quick end after a disagreement with the club’s chairman.
In 2019 Jesus was appointed boss at Brazilian giants Flamengo, where he would lead the Rio de Janeiro side to one of the most successful campaigns in their history.
As well as winning the league, Flamengo claimed the Copa Libertadores for the second time, won three cups and came second to Liverpool in the Club World Cup in December, before the charismatic 66-year-old returned to Lisbon with Benfica earlier this month.
A Busy Summer
With Jesus back in the fold, Benfica head into the new season as strong favourites to reclaim their title when the Primeira Liga campaign gets back under way on 20th September.
The club’s president Luis Filipe Vieira pulled out all the stops to recapture his manager and has also bankrolled the arrivals of former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen along with players including Brazil international Everton Cebolinha, Gian-Luca Waldschmidt, Pedrinho and Gilberto.
Earlier this month it was reported that Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani could also arrive before the restart, though wage discussions ended the move, with Real Madrid's Mariano Diaz the latest big name to be connected with the club.
Benfica facts and Trivia
- Also known as the Cathedral, Benfica’s Estadio da Luz home hosted the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain last Sunday. The stadium’s name translates as Stadium of Light and gets its name from the local neighbourhood Luz, named in turn due to the local worship place, the Church of Our Lady of Light.
- Beware the curse! After manager Bela Guttmann led Benfica to the 1962 European Cup title he was turned down a pay rise and is said to have declared that the club would not become European champions again for a hundred years. Eight losing appearances in finals – most recently in 2014 – and the cruse appears intact.
- Think of Benfica and you’ll soon think of their greatest ever player, Eusebio. Arriving from Mozambique aged 18 in 1961, in his decade and a half with the Eagles he played over 700 matches and scored over 700 goals, going alongside 11 titles, five cups, the 1962 European Cup. As an individual, Eusebio was awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1965 and won the Golden Boot in the World Cup a year later.