Benfica stumbled upon gold

Having proved his worth to his manager, Rui Vitoria, during his four league substitute appearance and in his 180 minutes of action in the Portuguese cup competitions, Filip Krovinović was deservedly handed a start in Benfica’s league clash with Vitoria de Guimaraes. And the gifted summer signing from Rio Ave certainly didn’t disappoint, putting in a brilliant showing in his first Liga NOS start.

From his right-sided central midfield position, the 22-year-old’s technical qualities, intelligent movement, and strong decision making saw him inject some vital creativity and imagination into his side’s attacking work.

To start with, his incisive passing and mazy dribbling skills, in combination with his crafty vision and calmness in possession, saw him provide a constant threat to the opposition backline. Indeed, his aptitude in these regards made him a very unpredictable adversary, for if his marker pressed him he could swiftly beat them in a 1v1 duel yet if he was given time on the ball he could use his precise passing to cut open the defense.

His smart movement accompanied his ball handling capabilities nicely, as he persistently found space to operate in. Whether dropping deep alongside Ljubomir Fejsa to help Benfica build of out from the back, astutely occupying dangerous space in between the opposition’s defensive and midfield lines or by pushing into the right half space to create overloads, Krovinović’s variations made him a very difficult man to monitor. Moreover, the way he performed well-executed midfield rotations with Pizzi only further added to his elusiveness.

The fact the Eagles targeted right and right of center locations 47% of the time was a tactic that clearly worked wonders in allowing the Croatian to thrive in his designated area of operation.

Other positives to be drawn from his performance came from his defensive dedication and intensity, which saw him make a crucial five defensive actions, and the way the two-footed whizz worked so cohesively with his colleagues.

Full of composure, determination and offensive nous, Krovinović’s multifaceted performance was justifiably met with praise from his manager. “He’s a young man who has been working very well. We understood in this game that we should position ourselves with three men in the central zone and, above all, have players that approach the attacking areas regularly, and Krovinovic does this very well,” explained Vitoria in his post-match comments.

“He had a great performance. He is a player that gives us another dimension in midfield. His work in this game was very meritorious work and he integrated without any problem. It did not surprise me because I see him working every day.”

Krovinović will now be hoping to use his accomplished body of work to kick on in his quest to become an integral part of the Benfica squad. At still just 22, and with such a huge scope for improvement, it’ll be fascinating to observe his development under the expert tutelage of Vitoria.

All things considered, his future looks to be a very bright one indeed after this promising breakthrough outing.

By @Licencetoroam

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