Diogo Calila – One to Watch

Diogo Calila is a 20-year-old Portuguese right-back who plays for Belenenses SAD in the Liga NOS.

Calila came through the youth ranks of SL Benfica, playing there until 2017. In the summer of 2017 he signed for FC Paços de Ferreira. Calila played in the B-team for a whole year, and started in 23 games while coming on as a sub in 5 matches. He signed for Belenenses SAD in July 2018, and he played for their reserves for a whole year. Again, he started in 23 games and came on as a sub in four games.

This season Diogo Calila has become a regular starter for Belenenses SAD and has proved to be an interesting player to watch for the future. In this piece, his style of play will be analyzed with the help of screenshots from Belenenses SAD – SL Benfica.

Style of play Diogo Calila

Diogo Calila is an offensive right-back who is very comfortable on the ball. Before we head into more detail, let’s assess how Belenenses plays. Belenenses plays with three central defenders, and two attacking full-backs who have a lot of freedom to go forward. Normally, Belenenses likes to keep the ball and dominate possession, but against Benfica this wasn’t always possible, as Benfica is the better side. In possession, both Varela and Calila play as wide midfielders, always offering an attacking outlet down the flanks.

Benfica played in a system with two strikers and two wide midfielders (Pizzi and Rafa Silva) against Belenenses. However, both Pizzi and Rafa Silva positioned themselves mostly central, which means that the two full-backs had to provide width to the team. When the left-back (Grimaldo) was in possession, Diogo Calila put him under pressure immediately, minimalizing the chance for him to pass the ball forward.

One weakness of Diogo Calila is certainly his aerial duels. He is only 1.80M / 5’9 feet, and he isn’t able to jump very high. Against Benfica, he lost three of his four headers.

Calila had a lot of trouble with the pace, skill and agility of Rafa Silva and Pizzi. This lead to some shots on target from Rafa Silva and Pizzi. This happened a few times against other opponents like Boavista as well. This is certainly something Calila has to keep an eye out for. However, he did well to anticipate and intercept the ball in the defensive third a few times. He won the ball six times in total against Benfica.

An example:

In attack, Diogo Calila likes to make an overlapping run and provide an extra passing option down the flank to create width. However, the main issue for Calila is that his decision-making and crossing is weak. Against Benfica, he had the space to be decisive for Belenenses with an assist or a goal, but he failed to make an assist or goal.

A few examples:

When on the ball, Diogo Calila is very comfortable. He doesn’t panic when put under pressure, and his short passing is good. Besides that, he shields off the ball very well and isn’t getting pushed off the ball easily. He is also very quick on the ball, as he is very agile and pacey. In image 2 and 3, he manages to shield off his opponent very well and make a good turn to keep possession.

Normally, Calila makes good runs in behind the defensive lines creating chances for himself, like he did against Boavista. However, it has to be said that Calila did make some runs into space, but the pass was often very bad and resulted in a throw-in for Benfica.


Concluding, I think that the match against Benfica was the worst performance of the season for Diogo Calila and is therefore not really a good match to analyze his style of play from. Normally he performs a lot better and he is of value with his attacking threat. If he continues to perform like he is doing this season (apart from the match against Benfica) I think he will remain a regular starter as long as Belenenses is playing in a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation. In a 4-4-2 formation, like Belenenses played against Famalicão, he won’t be a starter as he is too weak defensively to play in that formation.

So, if Diogo Calila can work on his crossing and his 1-on-1 defending, I think he will be an interesting player for a big team in Portugal for the future.

Note: the match against Benfica was played at the 17th of August, and was the only full match I could find of Belenenses this season. I would have chosen another match if there were more full matches to watch.

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