Ones to Watch – Liga Zon Sagres 2013/2014


Portugal’s Liga Zon Sagres has formed a reputation for being one of the best formative leagues in Europe. With a seemingly endless conveyer-belt of talent flowing out of the league, it is no wonder that so many young players choose Portugal over other countries. Players such as David Luiz, Fabio Coentrao, Di Maria, Joao Moutinho, Hulk, and Falcao (among others) have all spent their formative years in the Iberian country, only to make multi-million euro moves abroad to some of the finest teams in the world.

This season, there are many young Portuguese talents who will be hoping to emulate the likes of Coentrao and Joao Moutinho; with hopes to earn a big move abroad; with hopes to be noticed by Paulo Bento and be selected for the national team. Regardless, there is much hope, both for the players and the spectators. At the root of all of this is a single hope: that Portuguese football may grow.

In this segment, Portugal Football is highlighting 25 under-22 Portuguese players from across the Liga Zon Sagres. These players are certainly players to watch for. Some are already proven players, while some are yet to showcase their talents on the big stage. So, without further ado, the ones to watch.

Academica

Anibal Capela - Academica

NAME 

AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
 Anibal Capela  22  Center Defense  29

Belenenses

Tiago Silva - Belenenses

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Silva  20  Attacking Midfield  46

Benfica

Andre Almeida - Benfica

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Andre Almeida  22  Midfield/Wingback  40

Andre Gomes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Andre Gomes  20  Center Midfield  27

 

Braga

Luis Silva - Braga 2013-2014 preseason

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Silva  20  Center Midfield  44

Rafa - Braga 2013-2014 preseason

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Rafa  20  Attacking Midfield  47

Salvador Agra - Braga

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Salvador Agra  21  Winger  23

Estoril

Leandro - Estoril

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Leandro  21  Forward  36

Gil Vicente

Luis Martins - Gil Vicente

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Martins  21  Left-Back  33

Maritimo

Danilo Pereira - Maritimo

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Danilo Pereira  21  Defensive Midfield  31

Nacional

Miguel Rodrigues - Nacional

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Miguel Rodrigues  20  Center Defense  19

Jota - Nacional

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Jota  20  Midfield  20

Olhanense

Pele - Olhanense

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Pele  21  Defensive Midfield  5

Pacos Ferreira

Sergio Oliveira - Pacos Ferreira

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Sergio Oliveira  21  Midfield  36

Porto

Tiago Rodrigues - Porto

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Rodrigues  21  Midfield  42

Ricardo - Porto

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo  19  Winger  37

Rio Ave

Luis Gustavo - Rio Ave

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Gustavo  20  Midfield  24

Roderick - Rio Ave

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Roderick Miranda  22  Center Defense  16

Sporting

Tiago Ilori - Sporting

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Ilori  20  Center Defense  32

Cedric - Sporting

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Cedric  21  Right-Back  25

Vitoria Guimaraes

Paulo Oliveira - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Paulo Oliveira  21  Center Defense  43

Ricardo Gomes - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo Gomes  21  Forward  31

Cafu - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Cafu  20  Winger  23

Vitoria Setubal

Ricardo Horta - Vitoria Setubal

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo Horta  18  Forward  16

Miguel Lourenco - Vitoria Setubal

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Miguel Lourenco  21  Center Defense  22

Andre Gomes Earns First Call


Due to injury, Ruben Micael and Hugo Almeida have had to pull out of the Portugal squad ahead of the team’s upcoming match against Ecuador. Called to replace them is Andre Gomes and Nelson Oliveira. The inclusion of Andre Gomes is an interesting one from Portugal National Team coach Paulo Bento. Gomes has broken into Benfica’s first team this season, and a string of positive performances have even merited a starting spot ahead of other very talented midfielders in the team. Despite this, Gomes has never represented the Portugal U-21 team. This is quite a jump.

Clubs Courting Hugo Almeida


Hugo Almeida - Besiktas

Hugo Almeida

Besiktas to Sevilla, Palermo, or Juventus?

Multiple clubs are chasing Besiktas striker Hugo Almeida, according to reports coming out of Portugal. Though he doesn’t seem interested in a move away, clubs such as Sevilla, Palermo, and now Juventus are all reportedly chasing the striker. One source suggests that Palermo is willing to pay as much as seven million euros for Almeida. Hugo is reportedly happy at the Turkish club at the moment, and is enjoying a good season, having scored eight goals in only ten appearances thus far.

Portugal Ties Gabon


Gabon 2-2 Portugal

In what turned into quite a strange game, Portugal left the African continent with only a tie against Gabon. Pizzi and Hugo Almeida both scored for the Seleccao, but the team was unable to come away with a victory against their African opposition. Many November friendlies are rarely taken seriously. These friendlies are mainly concerned with testing new players into the national team setup, which may result in sub-par results. This, along with questionable refereeing, heat, and an uneven pitch, is what happened against Gabon.

The game started in a choppy fashion, with both teams attempting to find their feet. Gabon appeared to find theirs first, most likely due to being used to the heat and their home pitch. Only an inaccurate shot spared Portugal’s blushes in the 26th minute, as Gabon came extremely close to scoring. Gabon got their goal soon after, however. The ball was crossed in, and a clumsy tackle from Silvio brought down a Gabonese player, although the contact looked to be minimal. Nevertheless, the referee awarded a penalty, which Gabon slotted past Beto to make the score 1-0 in their favor, and stun Portugal. Portugal was stunned into action, and responded immediately. Eder was pulled down in the box, and the referee did not hesitate to award a penalty for Portugal, just two minutes after Gabon’s. Debutant Pizzi stepped up confidently, and easily slotted the ball past the Gabonese goalkeeper to level the scores. Not much more happened before halftime, and Portugal went into the locker room wondering what was happening.

Soon after the restart, Bruno Alves came close from a speculative long-range cross-shot, but nothing came of it. Portugal continued to press, and were rewarded on the hour mark. A neat one-two between Nelson and Varela left the former to square the ball to the wide-open Hugo Almeida, who tapped the ball into the empty net. But alas, Portugal’s woes were far from done. Gabon scored less than 10 minutes later, to level the scores at 2-2. From then on out, it was one-way Gabonese traffic, with the hosts controlling the flow of the game, as Portugal stepped off the gas due their large number of substitutions.

Beto, Nelson, Ricardo Costa, Pepe(Bruno Alves), Silvio, Custodio(Helder Barbosa), Joao Moutinho(Hugo Viana), Ruben Micael(Ruben Amorim), Varela(Paulo Machado), Pizzi, Eder(Hugo Almeida)

Highlights Here

Who Will be Benfica’s Next Javi Garcia?


Javi Garcia

Javi Garcia’s departure to Manchester City has opened up a hole in Benfica’s midfield. Garcia had made that position his own over the three seasons he spent at the club, amassing well over 100 appearances in all competitions. He had established himself as one of the club’s most important players, and his presence will surely be missed. With the transfer occurring very close to the end of the transfer window, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has not had enough time to search for a suitable replacement. Because of this, Jesus must draw from some of the team’s (very talented) Portuguese youngsters. Andre Gomes and Andre Almeida are the two most likely to be chosen to fill this void.

Andre Almeida

Andre Almeida is a name that many who follow the Portugal game will be familiar with. Almeida began his career at Belenenses, initially playing for the U-19 team, before making his senior team debut just after he turned 18. Belenenses have long been known to have nurtured some of the most talented Portuguese of recent years. Some notable graduates include Rolando, Ruben Amorim, Bruno Pereirinha, and Goncalo Brandao. Almeida’s influence on the field increased, as he established himself as one of the club, and the league’s, greatest prospects. He soon became a regular for the Portugal U-21 team, where has has amassed over a dozen appearances. These performances caught the eye of Liga Zon Sagres giants Benfica, and club purchased the midfielder on a free transfer, immediately sending him on loan to Leiria. A successful loan period was ended midway through the season after he was recalled by his parent club. Back at Benfica, made three substitute appearances, both as a right-back and in the holding midfield position. This season, he began on the B team, but has already made the move back up to the main team. After the departure of Javi Garcia, Andre Almeida looks to play second-fiddle to either Nemanja Matic at defensive midfield, or to Maxi Pereira at right-back.

Andre Gomes

Andre Gomes first came to prominence this summer after impressive performances for the Portugal Under-19 team at the U-19 European Championships. Portugal was unlucky enough to have the two finalists in their group, but performed well nevertheless. Gomes earned plaudits for his play in the group, most notably scoring against Spain and Greece, the two finalists. As a result, the then-18 year old was called to play for Benfica’s B team in the Liga Orangina. Having previously played for Benfica’s youth teams, the move to the Liga Orangina would certainly be a huge one. The midfielder made an instant impact, however. On the opening day, he scored a wonderful long-range shot in the dying minutes to salvage a draw against Braga’s B team. Not too long after, Gomes had established himself as one of the team’s most important players. Now, with Benfica’s midfield stretched thin, Jorge Jesus has promoted him to the senior team. He has already debuted for the club in their 1-1 friendly draw with Real Betis.

Jorge Jesus has a decision to make: Andre Almeida or Andre Gomes. Both are players for the future, yet Andre Almeida is more polished and experienced at the moment. It will be interesting to see who gets the nod, and I predict that Andre Almeida will be utilized mainly as a right-back, and Andre Gomes as a holding midfielder.

Wonder Goals Push Portugal Past Panama


Portugal 2-0 Panama

Two finely-taken goals, one from Cristiano Ronaldo, and the other from Nelson Oliveira, sealed a 2-0 win over an inferior Panama side. Portugal had chances aplenty, but had a hard time finishing off those chances, with Hugo Almeida particularly suspect. Nevertheless, the Seleccao’s play oozed class, and the performance was encouraging.

The game started off brightly for the hosts. Joao Moutinho was the first to have a shot at goal. The live-wire midfielder cut the ball onto his left foot, but couldn’t keep his shot low enough. The deadlock was broken twenty minutes later. Young striker Nelson Oliveira received a pass from Miguel Lopes, side-stepped multiple Panama defenders, and unleashed a left-footed shot into the upper left-hand corner of the goal. With the score 1-0 in Portugal’s favor, the team continued to press. Oliveira and Ronaldo both tested the Panama goalkeeper with deft efforts, and were unlucky to have not scored. The opposition goalkeeper was proving to be the hero for his team, and after he parried an excellent Nani shot, he was looking better by the minute. The first half ended that way, at 1-0.

The second half started perfectly for the Seleccao. Raul Meireles lobbed a ball for Ronaldo, who chested down the pass, and unleashed a fierce volley into the bottom right-hand corner. It was what we have come to expect from the second-best player in the world, but it was nevertheless impressive. With the score at 2-0, Portugal still continued to press the opposition. Rolando had a brilliant header saved by Panama’s goalkeeper. Then came the Hugo Almeida farce show. Minutes after Rolando’s header, a header from Ricardo Costa was saved by the opposition goalkeeper, who parried it directly into Hugo Almeida’s path. Somehow, Almeida whiffed the ball, and it rolled slowly out for a goal kick. It was disappointing from the striker, and he failed to put away a further chance later in the game, sending his header well wide of the Panama goal. That was how the game ended: 2-0.

Eduardo(Beto), Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Ricardo Costa, Fabio Coentrao, Hugo Viana(Ruben Micael), Joao Moutinho(Carlos Martins), Raul Meireles(Miguel Veloso), Nani, Ronaldo(Varela), Nelson Oliveira(Hugo Almeida)

Highlights Here

Portuguese in Europa League


There were many Portuguese players involved last week in the opening Group stage games of this season’s Europa League. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Helder Barbosa, and Vieirinha were the ones who caught the headlines, so here is the entire coverage of every Portuguese player in the Europa League.

Group A

PAOK’s 0-0 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur put the two teams tied for second place. Vieirinha played a full 90 minutes and was one of the game’s brightest players, according to Goal.com. The winger has been in fine form for the Greek team over the past couple of years, and many have called for a Senior Team debut. It hasn’t happened yet, but it surely will in the future.

Group B

Many were surprised when Hannover 96 drew Standard Liege at home 0-0. With the German team one of the favorites to win the group, the 0-0 draw came as quite a surprise. Sergio Pinto started and played for 75 minutes, while Carlitos is still out injured.

Group C

Rapid Bucharesti took away a narrow win from Israel after they defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 to secure top spot in the group. Rui Duarte played the entire match, and Filipe Teixeira came on in the dying minutes.

Group D

Hugo Luz was nowhere to be seen for Valusi in their 2-2 draw with Italian giants Lazio.

There were, however, five Portuguese players involved in the Sporting Lisbon-Zurich encounter. Sporting ended the game winners after scoring two unanswered goals in the first half. Jorge Teixeira played the full 90 minutes for Zurich. For Sporting, Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, and (surprisingly) Bruno Pereirinha played the entire game. Andre Santos was substituted in on the hour mark.

Group E

The Portuguese contingent was strong for Besiktas as they recorded a thumping 5-1 victory over Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Simao, and Quaresma all started for the Turkish team. Hugo Almeida picked up a brace, Quaresma an assist, and Manuel Fernandes two assists. Bebe looks set to miss at least the first half of the season with an injury, and Julio Alves was nowhere to be seen.

Group G

Yago Fernandez was an unused substitute in Malmo’s 4-1 away loss to AZ.

Group H

Four Portuguese players were involved in Braga’s 3-1 win over Championship side Birmingham. Quim, Hugo Viana, Nuno Gomes, and Helder Barbosa all started for the Portuguese team. Quim and Hugo Viana played the entire game with Nuno Gomes and Helder Barbosa being substituted out in the 73rd and 89th minute, respectively. Helder Barbosa continued his fine form with a brace, and was certainly Braga’s finest players on the night.

Group I

Tiago played the last six minutes for Atletico Madrid as they defeated Celtic 2-0. Pizzi was an unused substitute, while Silvio was nowhere to be seen.

Group J

Geraldo Alves, brother of Julio and Bruno Alves, played a full 90 minutes for Steaua Bucharesti as they drew Schalke 0-0.

Group K

Orlando Sa was an unused substitute for Fulham in their 1-1 draw with Dutch giants Twente. Orlando Sa has also been handed the heralded “number 9” jersey at Fulham.

Group L

Following their 3-2 win over Zenit, Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Sturm Graz 2-1 away from home. Manuel da Costa was nowhere to be seen for the Russian side.

U-20 Bunch Brought in


Following their Euro 2013 qualifier on Thursday, Portuguese U-21 coach Rui Jorge made some changes to the squad that is set to take on France on September 5th. Mario Rui, Nuno Reis, Julio Alves, David Simao, Caetano, Salvador Agra have all been called up in place of Ivo Pinto, Vitor Bastos, Andre Almeida, Diogo Viana, Ricardo Martins, and Abel Camara. Of the players drafted into the squad, David Simao is the only one who has any sort of experience with the U-21 team. The remaining five are just off Portugal’s best display at a U-20 World Cup for a long time.

Portugal Blow Away Cyprus


Euro 2012 Qualification Group H

Cyprus 0-4 Portugal

Portugal look to be on the right track in Euro 2012 qualification after a comprehensive 4-0 win over “minnows” Cyprus. Minnows is exactly what everyone thought they were this time last year, before the two teams met. That game ended 4-4, much to the surprise of everyone. Now, with a new (and much better) coach, we waltzed to a comfortable 4-0 victory. The game started off well, with Joao Pereira and Pepe coming close just minutes after the game commenced. The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes, when a Cyprus defender handled the ball in the area. The referee awarded a penalty, which Ronaldo slotted away with ease. The two teams soon after went into the locker rooms at half time, with the score at a comfortable 1-0 for Portugal. The Portuguese came out in the second half slightly on the backfoot, with Cyprus looking stronger. Portugal silenced any whispers of a Cyprus comeback when Ronaldo played a one-two with Nani, juked out a defender, and finished strongly with his left foot to make it 2-0. That goal is Ronaldo’s sixth under coach Paulo Bento’s one-year reign to date, as compared to just two he scored in the two-year Carlos Quieroz era. Just a couple minutes later, Portugal scored again, this time through Hugo Almeida. Ronaldo broke free on the left and cut the ball back for Almeida, who finish was as simple as they come. But the scoring didn’t end there. Portugal added to Cyprus’s misery once more when Danny broke free on the left, out-muscled a defender, and slotted the ball away coolly to make the final score 4-0.

Rui Patricio, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Joao Pereira, Fabio Coentrao, Raul Meireles, Nani (Danny), Joao Moutinho, Ruben Micael (Miguel Veloso), Ronaldo, Helder Postiga (Hugo Almeida)

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Besiktas Interested in Pizzi


Due to the recent injury of Bebe, Besiktas are now looking at Braga’s young winger, Pizzi, as his replacement. Bebe joined Besiktas on loan from Manchester United, where he had failed to make the grade, but a recent injury has ruled him out for six months. Besiktas now move their attention to Pizzi, who shone for Pacos Ferreira last season. Pizzi is now with Braga’s first team, with a starting spot likely. According to reports in Portugal, the required fee is around 5 million euros. If the move does materialize, Pizzi will join up with fellow Portuguese players Simao, Bebe, Hugo Almeida, and Manuel Fernandes.