3 Reasons Why Portugal Needs to Tap Into Their ‘Fountain of Youth’


Ricardo Esgaio - Portugal U21 - with Luis Martins and Ricardo

It’s About Time

3 Reasons Why Portugal Needs to Tap Into Their ‘Fountain of Youth’ RIGHT NOW!


 

I still can’t get over it. And when I blink, it’s like I’m watching the whole thing all over again. I floss, and I think about Joao Moutinho’s flat cross. I mop, and I think about Nani coming to a complete stop. I order a pizza slice, and I think about Eder’s version of Bambi on ice. It’s that game… that miserable excuse of a game where Portugal actually lost 1-0 at home to Albania.

In terms of horrifying matches to experience, it ranks right up there with the Euro 2004 final – it gave me a loss of appetite, laryngitis, nausea, dizziness, and a broken remote control. But, what sets them apart is that this latest result didn’t come with a broken heart. It came with a full-blown crisis. And that makes things even worse. Continue reading

Portuguese Liga Week in Review: Round 3


Photo: FC Porto

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.

 

Transfer Headlines

Porto

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

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.

Benfica                                              

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:

Highs

 

  • 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

 

Lows

 

  • 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.

Opinion: 3 Reasons to Nurture Portuguese Talent


Soon after Portugal’s fine showing at last summer’s U-20 World Cup, Nelson Oliveira publically stated that Portuguese clubs need to focus more on youth, rather than on foreign imports. This point is a very important and relevant one in Portugal at the moment. Benfica have been accused of buying their success from Argentina; Braga from Brazil. While at one time or another there are Portuguese is the starting eleven for the top four in Portugal, the majority of the players on the pitch are non-Portuguese. This has been cause for concern, especially since Sporting, Benfica, and Porto have three of the best youth academies in Europe, and even the world. Those talented players, who are mostly Portuguese, are not receiving the playing time once they graduate from the academy. Instead, they look abroad for opportunities, which has ruined many a young player’s career. There are three reasons for the support of these Portuguese players that will be highlighted here.

Sporting Lisbon U19 5-1 Liverpool U19

In the 2011-2012 edition of the Nextgen Series, which essentially a U-19 Champions League, Sporting Lisbon have been destroying all opposition in Group 2. The team was pitted against Liverpool, Molde, and Wolfsburg, and has yet to disappoint. Sporting is now first in the group with 16 points and has scored more than any other team in the competition. Last week, Sporting took on Liverpool in their final match of the group. The Portuguese team proceeded to decimate their English opposition, winning 5-1. Betinho picked up two goals (one of them a spectacular bicycle-kick), while Filipe Chaby, Gael Etock, and Edgar Ie all scored a goal apiece. The performance was that of complete domination by the Lions, which brings up the question of how to harness this talent. These players are of arguably the same caliber as those from the past. For Portuguese clubs to be successful, they need to incorporate these players into the first team. In theory, if these players graduate into the first team, Sporting Lisbon have the capability of being better than Liverpool. This will only happen if clubs in Portugal change their ways. The Sporting Lisbon Academy has been known to produce some of the world’s finest players in Nani, Ronaldo, and Luis Figo, and it appears that that trend will continue. The test will come when they graduate from the academy.

Portugal’s showing at the 2011 U-20 World Cup

Many were blown away when Portugal reached the final of the U-20 World Cup last summer, defeating the likes of France and Argentina in the process. Nelson Oliveira emerged as one of the stars of the tournament. His four goals won him the award for second-best player of the tournament. Mika, Portugal’s goalkeeper, won the best goalkeeper of the tournament also. The Portuguese players put in impressive performance after impressive performance, and won many plaudits accordingly. Of the 21 Portuguese players, 16 of them were plying their trade in Portugal at the start of the tournament. That’s a decent number: a little over three-quarters. Danilo Pereira, Mario Rui, Pele, and Sana, who all starred for the team during the tournament, played overseas. Three of the players (Danilo, Sana, and Mario Rui) were all bought from Benfica following the expiration of their contracts. Many of these players have gone on to enjoy a successful season this term, many of them on loan abroad from a Portuguese team.

For the sake of the Portuguese National Team

Portugal don arguably three of the finest youth academies in the world, so it makes sense that they should be used to their fullest to nurture young Portuguese talents for the future. What would have happened if Quaresma, Figo, or Nani had left the academy to go to, let’s say, Chelsea. Their careers would most likely have been ruined. Let me remind you of a certain player called Fabio Paim. Paim was touted to be the next Ronaldo when he broke on the youth scene at Sporting half a decade ago. When Chelsea came calling with a lucrative offer, Paim pounced. Now, Paim is playing in the Angolan League. The talent that was evident has all but vanished. The only way that the Portuguese National Team will flourish is if the young stars are encouraged to stay in the country. If the coaches give the youngsters a first-team role, they will be encouraged to stay, and thus the profile of soccer in the country will be raised. When looking at the Spanish league, one will notice the large amount of Spanish players in the teams’ starting elevens. This has been a contributing factor to Spain’s rise to European and international domination. The big teams in Spain use, and rely on, Spanish players. In Germany, the story is the same.

 

Conclusion

The Portuguese National Teams is arguably flourishing more now than in recent history, with the U-20 team reaching the final of the World Cup, and the Senior team romping at every given opportunity. While the team has been successful as of late, the only way that the success can be built upon is if young Portuguese players are given opportunities in the league, instead of abroad. Then, and only then, the Portuguese National team will truly be a world-class team.