Having managed both Lisbon-based clubs, Jorge Jesus is accustomed to the pressure that comes with the hot seat in Portugal. The veteran tactician officially made his return to Benfica last month, after spending a highly-successful season in Brazil, leading Flamengo to a historic double, including a Copa Libertadores win over River Plate and the club’s sixth league title.
Jesus returns to Benfica with a point to prove after leaving the side for their fierce rivals Sporting Lisbon in 2015 after his contract expired. The 66-year-old led the Eagles to 10 trophies in his six-year tenure, including three league titles. In fact, Jesus currently holds the club record for most wins and trophies.
Benfica is currently coming off a disappointing season, finishing as runners up to Porto in both the league and the Taça de Portugal. The Lisbon-based outfit will be eager to get their season back on track and have wasted no time shaking up their roster this off-season ahead of Jesus’s arrival.
Benfica has since signed the highly-rated Brazilian winger Everton and marquee free agent Jan Vertonghen among others. Jesus goes into the season with a renewed roster, hoping for similar results as in his first tenure.
Jesus was hired by Benfica in 2009, after gaining invaluable experience coaching in Portugal’s second tier. The Amora native had an immediate impact, with Benfica winning the league in his first season. Jesus’s side proved extremely hard to break down and was only beaten twice on the year, conceding a mere 20 goals. Just three years later, the 66-year-old led Benfica to its first European final in 23 years but ultimately failed at the final hurdle against Chelsea.
The following year proved equally successful for Jesus, guiding Benfica to its second consecutive league title and yet another Europa League final. The Portuguese giants may have fallen short, this time against Sevilla, but for the first time in over two decades, Benfica was competing against Europe’s finest once more.
Jesus is all too familiar with the challenge ahead going into next season. His appointment was heavily criticized in Brazil prior to his arrival at Flamengo. Ultimately, Jesus silenced his doubters with 43 wins in 57 games and five trophies. Flamengo was also 20 minutes away from penalty shootouts in the Club World Cup final against Liverpool, until Roberto Firmino broke the deadlock in extra time.
The Benfica manager has demonstrated he is capable of adapting to modern football despite his wealth of experience, introducing a new wrinkle to his pragmatic 4-4-2 last season. Jesus's men regularly switched to a more fluid 3-4-3 in the final third, something the 66-year-old will be hoping to implement in Portugal.
His brief stint with Sporting Lisbon in 2015 may not go down well with the Benfica faithful, but if his Brazilian adventure is anything to go by, results remedy everything. Jesus is returning to Benfica at a time where the club is clearly intent on turning the page on last season and eager to usher in a new era with an intriguing project.
Jesus has already guided the Portuguese giants to unprecedented heights in the past and will be returning to Lisbon with redemption on his mind. Benfica has bolstered their ranks significantly this summer, and with Jesus at the helm, it would not be a surprise to see the Eagles fly high once more.