That felt like the longest break between seasons. It’s time to finally get competitive match action underway for my fourth season in charge of Vitória.
How would we cope juggling the Champions League group stage with trying to start well in the league and progressing in the domestic cups? Read on to find out.
I went into the first month of the season confident of nine points from the three matches. I’d failed to factor in that one of our three matches was against a newly promoted side.
We dominated all three matches, having over 50 shots collectively but finished the month with seven points. Cova de Piedade held firm and kept us out in the one match we struggled to create anything meaningful from our domination.
Summer signings, Joveljic and Majer, started well grabbing two goals from the three matches, settling in well to the CF(A) and IF(A) positions. Three clean sheets is a good start for the defence too.
First up this month, it’s the Taca da Liga and Penafiel. The LigaPro side join Primeira Liga sides Nacional and Setúbal in our group and I’m confident we can progress into the semis for the fourth consecutive season. We made hard work of it but eventually broke through with some excellent substitution work from me. Jhon Murillo’s blistering pace resulted in two goals and assist for another of the subs, Herman Geelmuyden, his first in Vitória colours.
It was then onto our Champions League debut. As far as Groups of Death go PSG, Spurs and Schalke is up there but we were ranked as the side with the lowest coefficient in the group stage so I can’t complain about getting a tough draw. The uphill battle got even steeper as PSG left Guimarães with all three points on matchday one. It was that little known prospect named Mbappé who scored the eventual winner.
Joveljic continued his fine start to the season with three goals in our next two, albeit one was a consolation in a 2-1 defeat away at Porto, our first loss of the league season. He wasn’t able to affect the Maritimo match much, their stubborn 4-4-2 caused us problems again after they’d taken us apart 4-1 at the tail end of last season. It wasn’t until they chased the win and changed to a back three that we were able to capitalise, leaving it late to snatch the win.
I wouldn’t say we were outclassed in either Champions League match so far but Spurs were just that cut above in their finishing as we end September. Dele Alli, Eriksen and Son were the scorers. I’m deciding not to change our approach in the Champions League matches, which has obviously back fired so far with two played and no points but there’s no guarantees that playing more defensively will see us picking up any points against those two clubs. The Schalke double header in the next two will be vital.
A worrying start to the month as Feirence completely outperformed us on their way to a 4-0 win. The players condition coming off the back of the Spurs defeat was absolutely fine, I made a few changes but none that should have rocked the boat. It was a shocking performance. Despite us creating more chances than them we never properly threatened to score.
The international break after that match felt like forever. Lower league Avanca didn’t put up much of a fight in the Taca de Portugal to get us back to winning ways. That led to yet another valiant Champions League display that brought no points. Schalke were the epitome of German efficiency as they scored just before half time and just before full time to take a vital three points. It looks as though the CL is just a cut above our current level.
I thought we were going to be on track for a second consecutive month of wins and defeats dovetailing each other but thankfully we finished the month with another three points in the Taca da Liga 3rd phase group stage in the Clássico Vitoriano derby and then an important win in the league against Tondela. Grønli scored the only goal with a free kick for his first of the season. I miss set pieces being a little bit overpowered.
If we’re able to do the impossible and gain a result against PSG or Spurs in either of our last two Champions League fixtures then we might make the Europa League knockouts after we finally got our first win against Schalke at the fourth time of asking. They equalised through a Gnabry screamer but Jorge Meré saw red and we capitalised to score two more from Geelmuyden and Thaciano. £2.4m for a CL group stage win isn’t to be sniffed at.
Joveljic came down with food poisoning, ruling him out of the Estoril match, so Herman Geelmuyden started his second match of the season.
He scored his fourth goal of the season which ultimately turned out to be the winner and added a fifth in our Taca de Portugal tie this month, after coming on as a sub for returning hattrick hero, Joveljic. We’re progressing well in our defence of the Taca de Portugal, into the 5th round after the demolishing of Gil Vicente, and well on track for another Taca da Liga semi final appearance too.
We played really well, again, against PSG in the Champions League. It was 2-2 at half time, Neymar scoring just before the whistle. They just went into overdrive in the second half though, scoring another five. The result doesn’t totally reflect the match, which feels strange to be writing after a 7-3 defeat. We created four clear cut chances and they only outscored us by two shots on target. We gave it a right good go. Our task now is getting a win against Spurs at home to finish 3rd and progress into the Europa League. It’ll be tough, but that’s football.
Six points from our two league matches this months sees us ending the first portion of the season in 6th.
That shock thumping against Feirense aside, it’s been a decent start to the season. We’re actually a point ahead of ourselves comparing to the same stage last season, despite having played one match less. It already looks like there’s a bit of a breakaway that includes us and the rest of the top six and I’m quite happy with where we’re placed going into a hectic part of the season over the next few months.
The biggest thing jumping out at me is Marco Silva performing a bit of a revival at Sporting with a near perfect start to the season. We welcome the challenge from them to wrestle back their place in Os Três Grandes from us.
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