Welcome back to “Brits Abroad”, a series where I’m trying to build an entirely British team at Benfica and hopefully dominate the game. So far, that hasn’t really been the case, but it’s early days in the grand scheme of things and we’re firing on three fronts as you join us in part 6. Who thought we’d get as far as a 6th part? I know I didn’t. Anyway, it’s the end of season 2 and we have it all to play for. So let’s get to it…
At the end of the last update Sporting Lisbon took us to a replay back at our place in the Portugese cup. The time for that replay…is now.
What a right old battle this was. The problem with having a British team is that all the Englishmen miss their penalties. Heart break there then, and a bad start to the update. I’d like to say we have bigger fish to fry but we’re miles away in the league and surely this bunch of morons can’t win the UEFA Cup. We must get that 2nd place finish.
This was a bad tempered game but we hold our nerve to nick it through one of the penalty villains.
That’s Curtis’ 5th red card, for crying out loud. Haslam will take the opportunity I’m sure.
It’s transfer deadline day in Portugal, and as Portugese Jim White limbers up, I’ve decided to risk buying some targets now and avoid the risk of losing out on them to English clubs who have another month before their deadline.
Watch out Portugal, that’s proper selection of misfits. Sinclair is versatile and gives us loads of options, Bridges is yet another forward option for us and the need for an experienced back up keeper makes Neil Sullivan the ideal signing.
It doesn’t make us any more entertaining though.
On we go then to our UEFA Cup tie with Inter Milan, none of the new guys can play and even Fitzgerald is cup tied, so maybe a stay of execution for Gifton Noel-Williams. Inter are obviously class and better than us but the only plus is they have sold Ronaldo.
How rubbish. We barely had a look in, to be honest we were lucky to lose 1-0. There’ll be no Deano in the second leg either, who has amassed the yellow card limit. Tough trip to 4th placed Academica this weekend, too.
Urgh. What kind of a surname is Luke anyway? We gave ourselves a sniff of a chance for 3 minutes before reverting to type and getting humped. This is all going very wrong very quickly
The goals are drying up despite all the strikers available to us.
We welcome Inter to Luz with all sorts of problems – Fitzgerald is injured, Dunn & Deane are suspended and Bridges and Sinclair are cup tied. It means Gallen is partnered by GNW with forgotten man Tomlinson on the bench. We’re knackered, basically.
Or are we!? A ridiculous first half basically secures our place in the semis and despite a late wobble, it’s job done. Gifton!
Butter my arse.
With an International break on the way, I have a little while to plan for our next game, which is away to struggling Felgueiras. We travel to Feyenoord just 2 days after so I think I’ll have to rest a few, and play those who are cup tied in Europe.
It’s a gamble that pays off, fortunately.
Despite Haslam picking up a second yellow late on it is very much job done, and on we go to Rotterdam.
It turns out to be a bit of a thriller.
For those wondering, Deane climbed off the bench to smash in a 30 yarder. What a guy.
We welcome Porto now, who are 7 points ahead of us. So a win here and it really opens things up again.
Consider the cat amongst the pigeons. A lightning start gives us a platform for success and we hold on with few alarms to go outright 2nd just 4 points behind Porto with 6 games to go.
Porto have a relatively easy run in so I’m not getting overly excited, 2nd is still the target.
It’s a huge week for us, with a trip to Braga and a home game with Sporting Lisbon on the horizon along with the Feyenoord return match sandwiches in between.
It was almost a perfect night…
So annoying to concede in the last minute, but twice in the last 10 minutes is just ridiculous. I’d rotated the squad and it looked like it had worked perfectly. To make matters worse, or maybe better, Porto can only draw at home so we’ve not lost ground but what an opportunity to close the gap.
We better not mess this up against Feyenoord or I’ll go off it.
We’re in the final!
Against Newcastle. How ironic.
The final is in Amsterdam, so that’ll be nice. Le Tissier will be banned though, which is a huge shame.
Hold on a second, what is this!?
I didn’t expect Jody Morris to be our first England call up. I bet Gallen is livid.
I’ve got nothing.
As if to prove how annoyed he is by this latest snub, Gallen nets what could be our most important 3 points of the season.
Time for that International break now, there’s no game for us until May 2nd. That’s followed by the UEFA Cup final, so hopefully the lads who go away to play for their countries come back unscathed.
Sadly neither Morris or Minto got on for England, so the wait for a Benfica capped player goes on.
Back to the domestic action then and it’s an away trip to Farense. With the UEFA cup final just 3 days away, it’s another mix and match team selection.
A point would have done but Thorpe’s late winner is a massive plus – especially as the new filters through that Porto have drawn at home. The gap is down to 2! Furthermore, we are 3 ahead of Sporting Lisbon.
And so to Amsterdam for the UEFA Cup final. We’ve been through a lot, but nothing will make me happier than Brian Deane lifting the trophy. Le Tissier is banned and injured anyway…
Penalties. We really are British. Steve Harper, who usually aspires to very little, is unbeatable and it’s yet another shootout defeat for us. It is a major drawback to an all British team.
Meanwhile the Wenger out brigade might have a point!
Hilariously it means many of their team are available for nothing. I’ll be having their British spine, thank you.
I need to rouse the troops after the penalty heartache, at home to mid table opposition should be ok.
Phew. GNW climbs off the bench to snatch it for us, and what’s more Porto lose at home!
2 games to go!
Away to already relegated Varzim…
Oh come on. You idiots!
Porto win at home to go back to the top, but Sporting Lisbon lose. It means we’re guaranteed to finish in the top 2, and have a crack at the Champions League.
JC! Thoroughly deserved.
So with one game to go, this is the predicament.
And these are the fixtures:
With that in mind, Boavista needed to do me a favour last season and failed miserably. This time, please?
Gallen & Deane get the job done for us.
So close! That is a huge shame.
Important business to take care of before I sign off.
And in the biggest news of all, John Curtis became the first player to play for England from this mob.
Nobody won any awards though, and with that it’s the end of an epic update. See you for season 3?