How will Portugal cope with the losses of Hulk, Garcia and Witsel?

September 13, 2012 in Primeira Liga

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During the last week of the transfer window, the Liga Portuguesa lost three of its top footballers: Javi Garcia left Benfica for City, and fellow Eagle Axel Witsel followed Porto’s Hulk to Zenit St Petersburg. Who will suffer more, Benfica or Porto?

On the face of it, it’s very easier to say Benfica. They lost two key players in similar positions, and haven’t really replaced adequately. Witsel has only been at Benfica for one season, but following the common trend of current Belgian footballers (Hazard, Fellaini, Mirallas, Lukaku), Witsel shone immediately, helping Benfica to a strong second-place finish. They had been leading for the majority of the year, but a loss of form saw them fall short.

A point was made that Benfica had lost to Guimarães during this period of poor form. They played without injured Garcia and rested Witsel. They had a large lead at the top, certainly clear ahead of the rest of the pack. But thanks to a combination of this Garcia & Witsel loss and a defeat at home to rivals Porto, they couldn’t hold onto the title.

Hulk has been without doubt one of the biggest sensations to come out of Portugal. He was consistently linked with clubs from abroad, most notably Arsenal last year and Chelsea this year, having scored 54 goals since 2008. My personal favourite moment of mine comes in a game  aainst Benfica. This is footage showing football fans at their worst, chanting vulgar racist abuse when Hulk got the ball. Click the picture below to see how he responds and silences the critics.

It was this sort of shot that made his left leg one of the most feared in the league, if not in Europe. Indeed, an impossibly special player to replace. Regardless, Porto have tried and bought in Christian Atsu, and alongside James Rodriguez (already at the club), he will have a large burden placed on him. However, we have seen the likes of Hulk and Falcao come through the club, so there is definitely potential.

As for Benfica, their duo have been replaced by Nemanja Matic and Carlos Martins. Benfica fans say they are nowhere near as threatening as Garcia and Witsel, so only time will tell how well they will fare.

The biggest losers? The league. These trio made the league very entertaining to watch, especially at the back end of last season. As previously mentioned, if the league churns out more players like Meireles, Nani, Ronaldo and Ramires, then we shouldn’t be waiting too long for the next superstar to turn up!