Benfica Fans Have Reason to Feel Optimistic Despite Schmidt’s Retention

    Roger Schmidt doesn’t get ahead of himself, although he says that Benfica fully deserves to be one of the top eight teams in Europe.

    Benfica secured a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals by beating Club Brugge 5-1 on Wednesday for a 7-1 aggregate win.

    Gonzalo Ramos scored twice, with Rafa Silva, David Neres and Joao Mario also scoring goals. Bjorn Meyer has received consolation for Club Brugge, who have won only twice since his appointment in December under Scott Parker.

    With a successful second-half penalty, Joao Mario became the first Benfica player since Eusébio to score in five consecutive Champions League/European Cup matches.

    Benfica have been one of the most impressive teams in this season’s competition, topping a group that also included Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, although Schmidt remains in place.

    “We’re in the top 8 teams and we deserve it because we played like a great team,” he told Eleven Sports.

    “We are very happy that we have come this far, we will wait for the opponent, who will be dictated by the draw, and we will do our best to reach the semi-finals.

    “We’re going step by step without looking too far ahead, as we’ve been doing all season.”

    At the post-match press conference, Schmidt added: “Now we like to perform excellently. We came to win and play attacking football, not to defend a 2-0 score.

    “We scored at the right moment, we were smart, we controlled the ball and accelerated at the right moment.”

    Benfica reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup/Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1967–68/1968–69, although it was the first time they had scored five goals in a UEFA main competition knockout match.

    Indeed, Benfica are unbeaten in their last 13 European matches (including qualifiers), which is the longest streak for a Portuguese team.

    Club Brugge, meanwhile, suffered their biggest loss on aggregate in a European play-off, excluding qualifiers. The Belgian team have not conceded five away goals in a continental game since losing 6-1 to Monaco in 1988.

    Speculation over Parker’s job security is mounting and the former Fulham and Bournemouth boss knows his future is not in his own hands.

    “You’re asking the wrong person,” he replied when asked if he would stay put.

    “It was difficult for me, but the players were great and wanted to do everything they could to make a difference.

    “I understand that people now doubt [me], I’m not naive. All I can say is that I’m trying to make a difference and build a team that starts winning again.”

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