5 Year Update
For those still following along so far, thank you for your patience. Work, life, travel and study has put Football Manager to a back seat for the past few months but this game has been ticking along slowly in the background whenever time has allowed but I've been nowhere near able to maintain regular updates.
This game has been one of the most enjoyable, to date. I would highly recommend Benfica to anyone looking for a talented young squad of players to bring through.
Last time out, we won the league and had a respectable Champions League campaign reaching the knock-out phase, playing a 4-4-2 diamond with a dominant midfield.
Talented players from the academy were introduced with increasing regularity over the course of the season.
Despite a great season, Talisca started forcing a move within weeks of returning to the club. The most daunting decision being to cash in on midfield colossus Ljubomir Fejsa to make way for 5'6", 18-year old playmaker Tiago Dantas from the academy. Cervi and Krovinovic also sent out on paid loans to Sevilla and Manchester City respectively in the hope of appreciating value as they develop. Fabregas joins to tutor and re-enforce the new style of play, alongside a couple of youngsters to keep the conveyor belt running.
The First Team - 2019/2020
We entered the season with an average age of less than 21-years old, captained by 22-year old Ruben Dias:
We adopted the 4-1-4-1 that has been employed by the Academy and B Team for the past 2-years, giving some sense of familiarity with the system. The biggest change is probably the shift from a physically dominant team, to a preference for intelligent technical players.
The squad developed exceptionally as a group over the course of the season. Training remaining unchanged from the Tactical training from the last 2 years.
Dominance of Portuguese domestic competition became yet more comprehensive.
Cementing our status as the most exciting young squad in Europe, dominating an ageing Barcelona team to win the Champions League.
For the sake of actually getting this update out, rather than delaying until I have more time, I am not going to go into the typical in-game analysis of the 4-1-4-1 as it's the same as has been done before, but with more developed players.
Some observations from the season were:
Excellent possession play, triangles everywhere and naturally dominates games.
Regularly excellent attacking play in the 2-3-5 shape, however occasionally shut down by more physical midfield blocks.
Jota (João Felipe) has developed into an electric attacking player with excellent dribbling, flair, agility and acceleration.
The introduction of Florentino Luis massively improves the balance of the team with his intelligence, work rate and physicality. Covers right back, holding midfield and central midfield.
The Portugal job & the Olympics
The save took an interesting turn when Portugal crashed out of Euro 2020 early, presenting an opportunity to take this project to an international stage.
The first challenge was the Olympic Games in Japan. The Portugal U-23 squad was absolutely head and shoulders ahead of the opposition, so I decided to open the floodgates with a high-octane 4-3-3.
The objective was to play high-intensity pressing, with quick, short passing and build up play through a technical midfield.
Overload gives us high mentalities across the team, high closing down, high line and high tempo.
Team Instructions give us the shorter passing and build up play.
Shifting to a 4-3-3 gives Jota more attacking freedom to cut inside with Guerreiro overlapping on the left.
Gedson Fernandes playing in the front 3 adds physicality and work-rate to our pressing and facilitates Florentino Luis to come in at right back.
Results were exceptional and some of the play was excellent.
The squad is now certainly evolution, rather than revolution. Keeping talented players at the club became the priority.
After enjoying the style of play experimented with during the Olympics, I decided to translate that back to club level.
Continued game time at the appropriate level is continuing to drive players development, maintaining the tactical training emphasising mental attributes.
The presence of Gedson Fernandes in the front 3 and Florentino Luis at the back solidified the setup greatly, resulting in our strongest league campaign yet.
Managing to break a goalscoring record which stood since 1947.
However unfortunately falling at the last hurdle to a Real Madrid side we could really have beaten, but our lightweight midfield was exposed.
Redemption & the World Cup
Delighted with the way the team is playing, our squad and tactics are now certainly evolution rather than revolution. Essentially rotating the right flank of the team clockwise put the defensive and physical influence of Florentino Luis into a central position. Gedson Fernandes reverts to his more familiar role of wingback, and João Felix takes a creative inside forward role on the right of the attacking trident. Tiago Dantas remains the playmaker, but with the solidarity of Luis behind.
Development continued, with the majority of the squad now playing at an extremely high level in comparison to the league.
The result being a repetition of the 100-point season:
..and the return of the Champions League.
Entering the World Cup on the crest of a massive wave, we kept the system the core of the team uses week in, week out.
Interestingly, there's quite a contrast between the relative ability when players are rated domestically in Portugal vs internationally at a World Cup.
Finishing off the year with style
At this moment, I'm not sure. I've started keeping an eye on managerial movements in the major leagues around Europe as I quite fancy a new challenge, potentially taking a couple of players with me into a new league. At the moment, nothing fits so I'll be sticking with Benfica.
Experimenting in the pre-season with a 3-4-3 but undecided if it's going to work in the Champions League.
Embalo has had a couple of fantastic seasons pushing into the first team and is now ready to start and his pace and power will add to the attack. That'll cause a re-shuffle with at one big name needing to leave the club. I'm not sure who yet, but it'll be a similar evolution next season.
If there's interest, I can do a couple of match analysis when I have time. It's quite a basic 4-3-3 but played with overload and a group of players who have been working towards this style for a number of years.
I'm really interested to hear if anyone's tried Benfica in FM2019, and whether this set of overload 4-3-3s works in other people's team or whether it's just the level of dominance Benfica have reached.