Monday, 8 August 2011

The Eagle landed

Saturday 6th August 2011 Benfica 2 Arsenal 1, Eusebio Cup Estadio Da Luz, Lisbon

I might have had to miss the great opening day win by Ipswich at Bristol City but I still managed to get some football in. Lisbon was our destination for a few days break and thanks to brilliant hotel staff, we managed to get two tickets for Benfica v Arsenal.
They apologised that we would have to sit with the local fans, we soon explained to the staff we wanted to be with the Benfica fans as we would not want Arsenal to win.

Estadio Da Luz, was our destination and just an 8 stop journey on the metro deposited us in the neighbouring shopping centre, as we left the centre we got our first sight of this superb stadium.

Loads of fans were situated at local stalls selling beer, hot dogs and special scarves. The beer was popular as inside the ground it is Alcohol free lager only! The scarves are also popular as a souvenir of the game as no programmes are on offer.

We were situated in the top tier of this impressive stadia above the tunnel. What a view and the atmosphere soon built as the game got closer and that was with hardly any Arsenal fans making the trip, only a few were seen and most of them seemed to be visiting holidaymakers.

Just before kick off the scarves began to wave and a great cheer rose, why? We soon saw why, as a bird of prey flew around the stadium before landing on a cart on the pitch, slightly more impressive than someone dressed up as a pantomime horse!

The game started and it was hard to pick out who was who- and that included the Arsenal team, Van Persie was noticeable as he came closest to scoring in a first half where Benfica had most of the possession but Arsenal looked the more dangerous. Van Persie eventually opened the scoring and Arsenal went in at the break looking very comfortable.The usual mass substitutions at half time seemed to benefit the Portuguese team more and the second half soon saw Benfica on top with the Brazilian Aimar the most impressive of the new players. Arsenal seemed to have no answer to his trickery and soon resorted to needless fouls, but this negative tactic did not work and Benfica soon took the lead and go onto lift the Eusebio Cup.

The usual TV induced fireworks saw the cup handed over to the Benfica captain by the legend Eusebio himself.

Hard to predict how Arsenal will do this season from watching a pre season game but I was impressed by their new acquisition, Gervinho.

For Benfica, a number impressed, their captain and defender, Luisao and the brilliant play maker Aimar.

The stadium? Five star- visit if you get a chance both the city and the stadium are both worth the short trip south.

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