This is it. Having made history in reaching this stage, Raul’s Juvenil A will go looking for Real Madrid’s first European title at youth level on Tuesday. Standing in their way is Benfica, whom are playing in their third ever final and also looking for their first UEFA Youth League title.
Real Madrid and Benfica have some fun history in the senior competition so to find out if Tuesday’s match can live up to that, and to get a better idea of Real’s opponents, I spoke to Benfica Youth about his side and their chances in the final.
How did the cornavirus affect Benfica’s youth team?
The national youth leagues had to be cancelled because of the virus, so I think it affected the teams and players more in the sporting aspect. The final phase of the competitions, which consists of around 10 matches and decides the leagues’ winners, were about to start and the players did not get to play them.
It certainly hindered the development of the players since they have not played competitively in months.
But, at the same time, it gave time to the players that were injured to recover and to make fitness gains.
Benfica have made a couple of UEFA Youth League finals, were you expecting to reach another one this season?
For sure. I firmly believe that that was the club’s goal from the start. In my opinion, we have been the best team in the competition and reaching the final just shows how good we are. Especially after beating Liverpool, Dinamo Zagreb and Ajax in such a convincing way.
How do you feel about facing Real Madrid?
Confident but it is a final and anything can happen. From the matches I could watch, Real Madrid showcased a lot of quality both individually and collectively. Your manager, Raúl, seems to have the ability to react and adapt well to what the team needs to fix during the match and has beaten some tough opponents. Blanco, Arribas and Morante are insanely talented and have shown they can take over matches easily.
From what you have seen, what do you think Benfica can exploit from this Real Madrid side?
Our high pressing has been key so far and can make the difference against the Spanish side again in the final.
Flipping the question, what do you think Real Madrid can exploit from this Benfica team?
Sometimes we have difficulties in controlling the space behind our center-backs and the space between the left-back and left center-back, so that might be a factor. Coordination and communication between the players will have to be on point.
Which Benfica player do you think has to have a good game for you to win?
From the 3 options I immediately thought of, I’ll choose Tiago Dantas. He is the captain, one of the most gifted and intelligent midfielders the club has ever produced and it’s his last match in the competition.
SL Benfica 3 – 1 Real Madrid
Be sure to follow Benfica Youth on Twitter at @SLBenficaYouth to get the Portuguese giants side of the final.