Tiago Mendes Returns to Chelsea


Tiago Mendes-Chelsea 2004-2005

Tiago (left) during his first stint with Chelsea, when he helped Chelsea to its first league title in 50 years. Photo courtesy express.co.uk

After a stellar season at Atletico Madrid which saw the team win the league and reach the final of the Champions League, Tiago Mendes is set to rejoin Jose Mourinho at English giants Chelsea. This will be Tiago’s second stint at the English club, after representing the team during the 2004-2005 season, also during Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea. An integral part of Atletico Madrid’s much-hailed midfield last season, Tiago found himself in arguably the finest form of his career at the advanced age of 33. He was in such fine form that he publicly regretted his decision to retire from the Portuguese National Team following the 2010 World Cup. At the time, it looked as if the midfielder’s career was on the steep decline, despite positive performances for Portugal at the aforesaid World Cup.

At the time of his international retirement, Tiago was languishing at Juventus, having only managed 7 league appearances during the first half of the previous season.  A loan to Atletico Madrid was arranged in January of 2010 (still prior to the World Cup), and the midfielder showed his worth, making 18 league appearances in the latter half of the season. After a successful half season and a positive World Cup campaign, another loan was arranged for the 2010-2011 season. But this time it was a season-long loan. Tiago continued to perform well for the Spanish club, managing 31 league appearances. After the loan expired, Tiago was purchased outright by Atletico on a two year contract. Since that time, Tiago has established himself as a tactically-sound asset to the team. He’s not the player he once was, but his knowledge of the game has grown immensely-an attribute he showed to perfection this season.

Many are speculating that Tiago’s move to Chelsea is one that will see him become part of the team’s backroom staff after his playing days are over. He was signed on a two-year deal, which will see him under contract until he is 35 years old, a prime age for retirement. There have been no secrets about his relationship with Jose Mourinho, and many are speculating that Tiago may have been signed to become Mourinho’s assistant a few years down the road. Will this happen? Only time will tell. For the mean time, Chelsea have signed an experienced player who was at the heart of one of the finest underdog stories of last season.

Nuno Coelho and Silvio Receive Call-Ups


The Portugal squad for their upcoming Euro 2012 qualification match on September 3rd has been released, and Nuno Coelho and Silvio both have the opportunity to make their international debut. Nuno Andre Coelho came as somewhat of a surprise, but Silvio’s call-up was expected and well worth it after scoring a spectacular long-range goal for Braga. Manuel Fernandes, who hasn’t featured for the Seleccao since 2008, also recieved a call-up. 20 players were called up, instead of the usual 23. THis is due to UEFA’s new rule only allowing 20 to be called up, with an additional three “stand-by” atheletes. I may be wrong, but that is what I could understand. Here’s the full list:

Atletico Madrid – Tiago
FC Porto – Beto, Rolando, Joao Moutinho, Varela
Genoa –  Eduardo, Miguel Veloso
Liverpool – Raul Meireles
Manchester United – Nani
Real Madrid – Ricardo Carvalho, Cristiano Ronaldo
Sporting CP – Nuno André Coelho, Liedson
SL Benfica – Fábio Coentrão
SC Braga – Silvio
Valencia – Miguel, Manuel Fernandes
Werder Bremen – Hugo Almeida
Zenit St Petersburg – Bruno Alves, Danny

Stand-by Players:

Besiktas – Ricardo Quaresma
Sporting – Rui Patricio
Toulouse – Paulo Machado

Pepe Resumes Training


Pepe….with hair?

There was good news coming out of Portugal today as Pepe was declared fit-to-play for the World Cup. The center defender/defensive midfielder was injured late last year in a game for Real Madrid, and has taken a lengthy recovery period. He will now resume training with the Portugal squad as they prepare for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

2010 Friendlies


So far, only one international friendly for Portugal has been announced. Portugal is playing China on March 3. The friendlies leading up to the World Cup are always quite vital, because it shows the National Team coach who will be a good pick for the World Cup.

Here’s my squad for the China friendly:

Goalkeepers

Eduardo – The Braga goalkeeper has been very solid this seasn, helping Braga to first in the Portuguese Liga.

Beto – I think that Beto deserves to be included on the World Cup roster, even though he has been getting limited playing time at Porto. Soon, Helton will probably fall out of favor, and Beto can show his worth, because he certainly did at Leixoes.

Rui Patricio – The Sporting no.1 has not been impressive as of late, but that is partly due to his club’s abysmal form. Having said that, he still deserves at least a debut for the National Team, because a bright future is surely ahead of him.

Defenders

Ricardo Carvalho – The Chelsea veteran forms a solid partnership with Bruno Alves. The showed us that throughout World Cup qualifying, only conceding five goals.

Bruno Alves – The Porto captain has earned quite a few plaudits for his performances in the Portuguese Liga and the Champions league. Like I said above, he forms a rock-solid partnership with Ricardo Carvalho. I also believe he should be Portugal’s captain. He shows more leadership currently that Ronaldo.

Miguel Veloso – Veloso has shown that he is just as capable playing left-back as he is at playing Defensive mid.(thats why I put him on defense). The Sporting midfielder has been in arguably his best run of form lately. His vision and positioning are superior, as he showed us for Sporting and for Portugal against Malta.

Joao Pereira – the former Braga man recently made a 2.6 million pound switch to Sporting, and has since put in some impressive man-of-the-match displays. His debut is long overdue.

Cesar Peixoto – Peixoto may be our left-back solution(along with Miguel Veloso). Peixoto, hasn’t been much of a regular for Benfica, but has gotten ample playing time.

Rolando – Has formed a solid partnership with Bruno Alves at Porto. Once Ricardo Carvalho retires, he will probably be one of the starting center-backs for Portugal.

Midfielders

Raul Meireles – Has had a solid season for the Dragons. Has more recently been vital for the Sellecao, as shown at the away leg at Bosnia last year.

Joao Moutinho – Deserves a starting spot on the National Team. His main weakness would have to be his slight body structure. He has great stamina, but he would easily get pushed around by some of the bigger teams. Having said that, he would probably do fine against the likes of China.

Ruben Micael – For some time now, I (and most other people) have been scratching our heads wondering why this young, talented midfielder hasn’t gotten a call from Queiroz. He has been amazing for Nacional(especially in the Europa league), and so far has lived up to all expectations at Porto. He definitely deserves a call-up.

Silvestre Varela – This young man has been absolutely, utterly, unbelievably superb for F.C. Porto this season. It’s like he came out of nowhere. His recent form should earn him a call-up for the friendlies, if not the World Cup itself.

Hugo Viana – The former Young European Footballer of the Year wasn’t making the grade at Valencia, but his loan to Sporting Braga has proved the polar opposite. He, along with Eduardo, have helped Braga to first in the Portuguese Liga. Though Viana isn’t quite as good as he was in his “wonder” years, he is in quite impressive form, and is probably one of the most impressive midfielders playing in Portugal.

Pedro Mendes – My nickname for him is “the rock”, because that’s how he defends. He is more capable at defense than some of the Premier League defenders I’ve been watching. Mendes had some almost man-of-the-match displays against Malta and Hungary last year. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but he certainly exceeded expectations.

Deco – The Chelsea playmaker hasn’t hit form at Chelsea(comparing to Barcelona), but he still possesses the vision that Portugal could use. Deco recently announced that he is to retire after this summer’s World Cup. So, in the meantime, lets use him, because he won’t be around forever.

Duda – The Malaga man has hit close-to top form this season. Of course, that’s what we thought last season too. He is a huge asset to the team, mainly for his abilities to play anywhere on the left flank.

Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo – If the Real Madrid man doesn’t get injured(or something more crazy), then he would be a valuable asset to the team. I think the rest goes without saying.

Simao – Simao has always been consistent for the Sellecao, but more recently hasn’t been wrongfully overshadowed by the likes of Quaresma and Ronaldo. I wouldn’t mind if he became our permanent captain.

Hugo Almeida – the burly center-forward has been starting to get overshadowed be Pizarro at Werder Bremen, but he still possesses the heading-ability and height that the Sellecao desperately needs.

Nani – recently, at United, Nani has showed his worth for the Manchester club, putting in some world-class displays. Last year at both of the Bosnia games, Nani had a “coming of age”. He has consistently shown us that he is helpful to the Sellecao, and I’m sure he will in years to come.

Liedson – Our latest addition to the Portuguese squad is a Brazilian-born player. Liedson shut all of the critics mouths when he headed in the equalizer in the dying minutes of the game against Denmark. Since then, he has scored another goal, a header, against Hungary.

Carlos Saleiro – I may be crazy on this one, but I have been thoroughly impressed by the burly center-forward. He has a knack in front of goal, and kond-of came out of nowhere.

Portugal to Face China


Portugal’s first friendly match of 2010 is now scheduled. On March 3, Portugal will play China in Portugal as a warmup match for the World Cup. Hopefully this will be a good chance to see what the North Korea game will be like at the World Cup. This will also be a good chance to see which players are worthy of playing at the World Cup, and to get some much-needed team confidence.

Portugal : 2010 World Cup Qualification


Portuguese World Cup Qualification Statistics:

Wins: 7

Losses: 1

Draws: 4

Top Goalscorers:

1.Simao (4)

2.Nani (3)

3.Liedson (2)

3.Bruno Alves (2)

3.Hugo Almeida (2)

6.Veloso (1)

6.Edinho (1)

6.Pepe (1)

6.Deco (1)

6.Meireles (1)

Goalscoring Statistics:

Total Goals Scored: 19

Total Goals Conceded: 5

Best Offensive Game: Malta 0-4 Portugal

Portugal 4-0 Malta

Highest Winning Margin: Malta 0-4 Portugal

Portugal 4-0 Malta

Worst Defensive Game: Portugal 2-3 Denmark

Clean Sheets: 9