Photo: FC Porto
Week in Review – Liga Highs and Lows
With the closing of the transfer window it was a frantic news week for all the Big clubs in Portugal, which made for a lot of interesting reading. So here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the Liga:
FC Porto got an important win over Moreirense to start the week, which kept them on pace with Rio Ave who continues to crush their opponents, Victoria Guimaraes also kept up their impressive start, here is a look at the Liga Standings after week 3.
SC Braga won their match with Estoril which keeps them within striking distance of the top teams (Eder had an amazing goal), but both Benfica and Sporting dropped points in the match of the week, an exciting derby that had its share of High’s and Lows.
Champions League Draw
Always exciting to get the groups sorted out and to eye up the Euro club competition, with the Primeira Liga moving ahead of Serie A into 4th place in the Euro Country Co-efficients the Liga brand is at an all-time high.
Benfica the Liga Champs were in pot 1 so got pooled with Zenit, Leverkusen, and Monaco in Group C this is courtesy of their #5 ranking in Europe. Benfica / Zenit started out as slight favourites but the odds will increase with Monaco losing Falcao on loan, and Zenit losing Hulk to injury. The group though still looks very challenging and should make for some exciting games, we are hoping Jesus irons out his wrinkles and we take this group in style, although there might be a question where the goals will come from.
Sporting (#33) the Liga runners-up got pooled with (highly favoured) Chelsea, Schalke, and Maribor from Slovenia in Group G and they are favoured to go through over Schalke. We like Sporting’s chances if they can sort out their defence. We hope their return to the CL is a successful one.
Porto (#11) was pooled with Bilbao, Shakhtar, and Borisov in Group H probably the easiest group of the Big 3 and are favoured to go through. Although ESPN thinks Athletic Bilbao will top the group (because of their victory over Napoli) but I don’t think beating a team from the nose diving Serie A is something to get excited over. Lopetegui and PDC have assembled a very talented squad with lots of depth and it should see them easily into the next round bar injuries.
With Porto losing Mangala and Fernando in the transfer window some could be concerned but PDC did well, and if anything strengthened his squad in a major way. This trend continued at the deadline with a double swoop where he signed Otavio a highly sought after Attacking Mid, and loaned Spanish midfielder Jose Campana. To cap off the successful transfer window for Porto. They also managed to keep danger man Jackson Martinez, who was on every BIG clubs radar. The only sad news was that Varela was sent packing after a contract row, but to be fair it is probably better for him as with all the talent assembled he was going to see a lot of the bench.
Sporting was in the headlines a lot with More Rojo Problems thankfully the self-obsessed hype train has left the station, not sure what all the interest is in a very average defender who has played on an excellent Sporting team, and Argentina National squad, but BdC did well to get Nani in the deal (with the majority of his salary paid).
Also making the headlines was the chase for the most sought after Defensive Midfielder in Europe. The Elegant Powerhouse known as Carvalho was chased until the dying seconds with both Arsenal and Manchester United in the running. Fortunately for the fans he chose to stay, even after the sneaky Wenger offered Campbell in exchange.
Ryan Gauld the Scottish Messi also talked highly of Sporting and why he chose to come to the historic club to round out his game. More and more talented youth players are realizing that the best place to go is the Primeira Liga, as they will not only get to play in Europe but the pedigree of players turned out by the Big 3 is unheard of. Sporting being the King of Portuguese talent is renowned for their Academy.
Definitely a roller coaster ride at the deadline for the Eagles with Hernandez from Palermo (there is a Portuguese joke in there with that team name) turning down a bid to go to the Luz. Clearly he might be Abel but he definitely isn’t that bright, as a move would’ve guaranteed him some big Euro games.
To add to the misery Arsene Wenger as true to his first name was being an arse (British slang), after suggesting he needed a striker first before selling or loaning World Cup star Joel Campbell to SLB. After getting Wellbeck he then offered Campbell up in a backroom deal to Sporting for Carvalho, then at the last second balked on the SLB purchase price and didn’t even loan the player much to the anger of both Campbell & his Agent who were furious.
Fortunately for Benfica it all ended well they managed to keep two highly sought after players in Enzo Perez and Nico Gaitan as their buy-out clauses were not met and also picked up a gem from AC Milan in Bryan Cristante. The Italian Wonder Kid came in cheap at 6 million euros much to the dismay of Milan fans who took to twitter in horror, and many Italian Reporters who chided Milan Management for the blunder. To top it off Cristante even forced the transfer and requested Benfica to add more salt to the wounds. Again the appreciation for the Big 3 and the job they have done developing BIG League talent is what has all these players knocking the door down to get to the Liga.
So all in all a very productive week for the Liga let me finish with the Highs and Lows of the week:
- Porto Win
- Rio Ave Crush
- Good Champions League draws for Sporting & Porto
- Jackson, Slimani, Carvalho, Enzo, and Gaitan Stay
- Cristante dumps AC Milan for Benfica
- Benfica & Sporting drop points in Liga Race
- Varela goes to West Brom
- Hernandez turns down SLB
- Benfica misses out on Cardozo replacement – Campbell via Wenger
- Rojo still in the Headlines
Once again another interesting week in the Headlines for Portuguese Football, follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news regularly.