Primeira Liga Week in Review – Highs and Lows


Bebe - Benfica

The next Nemanja Matic?

With the International break upon us the Primeira Liga was on hiatus this week, with the players joining their national squads for some important fixtures. Here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the World of Portuguese Football.

Portuguese National Futebol Team


It was Fernando Santos week in the news having taken over for the stubborn Paulo Bento who had to be escorted unwillingly from the tortured minds of most Portuguese Football fans.

Unfortunately it was not a good start to the week as Fernando found out that Coentrao was out due to a knee injury. The recent stumbles of the National Team were in need of being rectified, and Santos ushered in the new era with a radical squad selection. Although gifted with a friendly for his first match, the opponents were not so sympathetic to his cause. France hosted Santos’ welcome party and planned to crash it.

The new Portuguese supreme leader is still awaiting a decision from the courts on his appeal to a FIFA suspension which has him banned for 8 competitive matches, but he is allowed to be on the bench for friendlies. So he led the charge in the new revolution, and was glad to have his star pupil Ronaldo, who is carrying a minor injury, in the first battle.

It was going to be a clash of superstar team-mates as Ronaldo was opposite his potent Real Madrid comrade Benzema in this not so friendly match in Paris.

Santos’ starting line-up looked like this:

Patricio, Cedric, Pepe, Alves, Eliseu, Tiago, Gomes, Moutinho, Danny, Ronaldo, Nani

Gone from the squad were the resident under-achievers Meireles, Veloso, H. Almeida, and J. Pereira which was a good sign that change was in hand. Unfortunately the team came out and showed some of the same deficiencies that cost them dearly against opponents Germany, in the World Cup 4-0 rout this summer.

Eliseu who came in to replace Coentrao, and Cedric who vanquished Joao Pereira were defensive liabilities from the start, add to that the extremely slow Alves was still featured as a Center Back and it didn’t take long for the French to pounce on the ineptitude at the back.

France’s Griezmann marauded down his left wing putting in a cross-crease pass that went through Cedric and Alves, as well as Gomes. Sagna then hammered a shot that Patricio fumbled to Ronaldo’s Real team-mate Benzema who crushed the Frenchuguese hearts in attendance with a goal on the 3 minute mark.

Visions of the recent humiliating loss in the World Cup flashed across Luisitanian minds around the globe. Fortunately for the fans Nani, Danny, Tiago, Ronaldo & Joao Mario had other ideas and they made a really close game of it as the stats for both sides were almost identical, with Portugal even getting better goal chances off of the backs of the aforementioned gentlemen.

Portugal after a great run of play that saw Ronaldo with a scintillating goal bound cross-crease header was acrobatically saved by French Keeper Mandanda, in a last ditch effort to keep Portugal off of the score sheet, the selecao broke down at the back again allowing Pogba to score and take an unjust 2-0 lead for France.

Happily though Joao Mario came on as a sub and turned the tide straight away and earned a penalty shot in the 76th minute, allowing Quaresma to score from the spot, to bring Portugal back into the game. Joao Mario came close once again with a blast from the top of the box that just went over in the 83rd minute.

In the end the whistle blew and Portugal once again lost, making it two defeats in a row, and also spoiled Santos’ start with a 2-1 loss in Paris.

Santos was not happy with his teams play, and reigned down his displeasure in his post-game interview.

Many reports talked of an injury scare for Cristiano Ronaldo as he was seen on the sideline with an ice pack over his knee, but the truth is he is still carrying the repetitive tendonosis from earlier in the year and it is part of the treatment to get regular ice packs to keep the inflammation down. It is an injury that requires complete immobilization for it to heal, something the Champions League & Balon D’Or winner surely won’t get. It will probably mean ice packs for the rest of his career unless another injury sidelines him long enough to completely recover.

Of course with Portugal losing there were many hater headlines from across the globe such as the dubiously titled French Fry Portuguese. Something we have been accustomed to in the Cristiano era as he has accumulated more haters than lovers and it is always headline news when he fails.

In the end there were some positive signs from the Selecao and also some areas of concern, most notably in defence.

With the next game away to Denmark so soon upon us the previews of the match started to rain down. Our very own Sam Biggers takes a detailed look at the important match, as well as PortuGOAL, and Goal.com.

In some surprise news it was decided that Santos would get to coach on the sidelines for Portugal against Denmark while his appeal is in the process of being decided. Welcome news indeed to all the Red & Green faithful that were concerned at what would happen with a team managed by a missing coach.

That was not the only good news this week for Portuguese Football as the U-21 team continued their impressive run (8-0) with a 2-0 away win in the first leg of Euro playoff against the Netherlands that puts them in the driver’s seat to qualify for the 2015 U-21 Euro Championships. The U-21’s received a lot of praise and headlines for their achievement, especially Carlos Mane who had a wonder goal in the match.

So all was not lost this week, let us hope that the crucial match with Denmark this week ends in a triumphant result.

With all the National Team headings in the press you would think it would’ve been a slow week for the Big 3 in the Primeira Liga but it is never quiet. Let’s review what made the headings in a busy week of Liga reports.

Benfica


Once again Talisca was in the news as more teams have joined the Mourinho bandwagon in an effort to lure the Liga leading goal scorer to their squads. It was noted that Arsenal and Liverpool were both keen on the virtuoso as well as Manchester United. Expect that list of suitors to grow before the transfer window opens in January and you can also expect the asking price to skyrocket as Luis Felipe Vieira will be keen to up his 18 million pound buyout clause. It will be in the best interests of both parties to do so as only serious requests will be fielded then.

Talisca was not the only Benfica star targeted as Salvio too has his own set of admirers as Manchester United, Liverpool and a few others have been chasing him.

Manchester United long-term target Gaitan is also set to sign a new deal with Benfica after saying he was open to stay at the Luz. Good news to all his adoring fans.

A few former Benfica stars made it to the headlines as Matic was heralded for his play at Chelsea, conversely Markovic the young chick that wanted to spring the coop too soon has been a flop at Liverpool.

Simao Sabrosa also came out in the headlines saying: Van Gaal is demanding and Mourinho is relaxed.

Also to close out the week Jesus made some curious comments that grabbed many a headline, as he gave a vote of confidence to Bebe, the almost never used Benfica Forward/ Man U flop, comparing him to late bloomer Matic in his praise. JJ said that he would replicate Matic’s success and would return to star in the EPL.

Porto


FC Porto was not short of news this week either as they try to maintain a stranglehold at the top of the Primeira Liga with 9 titles in the last 12 years.

They have many star targets as well that hit the headlines with Jackson once again being targeted by many clubs including Arsenal & Tottenham as well as being voted Porto’s athlete of the year.

Martins Indi also made big headings talking about his close relationship with Manchester United boss Van Gaal and his own interest in going to play for the Dutch Manager in England. Indi said that Van Gaal still thinks about him.

Tello too said he still wanted to be a Barcelona player, which I found as odd as Indi’s comments earlier. I wonder where is the respect for FC Porto a world renowned club from these couple month wonders. How about you as a player learn something, perform for your club and if deserving a lucrative deal for all parties will be found.

Rolando too made news as FCP cut the asking price on the Porto defender, with many bargain basement teams looking to procure him in the January transfer window.

Juventus is also tracking Porto’s young midfield sensation Neves trying to tempt him to the Old Lady in Turin.

Sporting


SCP who has been a main news headliner since pre-season had a quieter week although Gauld continued to make headlines in the UK getting settled into Sporting life, and feeling ready to make a bow for Scotland after he had packed his bags for Lisbon. He also is happy to finally get away from the Messi comparison.

Carvalho as we have become accustomed was also in the news with the suggestion there is already a deal in place with Arsenal for his services. William was also quoted as saying he’ll move sooner rather than later as he has an EPL desire.

Again I take issue with Liga players disrespecting their fans and clubs talking moves while they are still getting paid by their influential clubs, in William’s case after signing a bigger contract with Sporting recently.

Defender Mauricio also mentioned that Manchester United had contacted his personal manager over a possible move to Old Trafford.

In happier news Sporting youngster Carlos Mane caught the eye of many a Euro giant after his play for the U-21 squad.

Nani too was once again popular as his continued high class performances are in stark contrast to Manchester United who has started poorly and still owns his rights as well as pay the majority of his salary.


 

Let’s conclude with the round-up of this week’s Highs and Lows in Portuguese Football:

Highs

  • Portugal’s U-21 squad’s undefeated streak and dominance
  • Fernando Santos Poo Poo’s most of Bento’s ideas
  • Portuguese Liga players thriving abroad
  • Santos able to coach in game versus Denmark
  • The Bento era is finally over
  • The Euro giants view that the Liga is one of the best developers of talent on the planet
  • Nani continues his comeback from flop to the top
  • Tuning into a Portugal game without Meireles, Veloso, & J. Pereira in the line-up

Lows

  • Santos era in charge starts with a loss
  • Current Liga players disrespect for the great clubs they play for
  • Second loss in a row for the National Team
  • Portugal’s defensively atrocious back line
  • FPF’s inability to hire management that don’t have a major FIFA suspension on their resume (Bento, Pinto & Santos)
  • Ronaldo’s injury scare
  • Coentrao going down with a knee injury

Once again it was another interesting week with many headings that had fans talking about Portuguese Football, follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news on a daily basis. Enjoy the Denmark game!

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