Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 21


Will Hernani return to haunt his former club?

Will Hernani return to haunt his former club?

It’s the weekend of love in the Liga NOS and around the world, and, dare I say, I’m in quite the jovial mood with regards to my predictions. But, much like being in a relationship, that feeling of warmth can dissipate rather quickly.

Now, I’m still fighting an uphill battle with a 14-22 overall record up to this point, but, things are starting to improve and I’m starting to show a little consistency in this game. Last week saw me go 4-5 for the second round in a row and, with the exception of that disastrous 1-8 result a couple of weeks ago, I’ve pretty much been hovering around the .500 mark. I don’t know about you but that’s a lot better than I expected when I decided to give this series a go.

This is a new round though – the 21st round of play in the newly named Liga NOS – and, from the looks of it, it’s going to be quite an interesting one to take in.

Last week was all about unpredictability what with all the changes in personnel over the days prior, and well, we certainly got some in the results. In particular, it seemed like no lead was safe as, of the 21 goals scored in total, 8 of them came in the last 10 minutes of the game. It was quite the spectacle and reminded me of why I love this league and Portuguese football so much.

Building on the events of the last couple of weeks, and, the idea of unpredictability itself, the theme for this week seems to be identity. Or, to put it another way – who are we and what are we made of?

This is, in a lot of ways, a make or break weekend for every team in the league. Teams like Academica, Arouca, and even Guimaraes may just find themselves sitting disheveled on the couch eating a tub of ice cream asking “What if…?” at the end of the season if they don’t turn things around as soon as possible. And, what of Penafiel and Sporting? Will they be able to bounce back and continue to play well following heartbreaking results?

This weekend, perhaps more than most other weekends, will go a long way towards determining what the league table looks like at the end of the year, and, I think many of these clubs are aware of that. So, don’t be surprised to see a number of cagey matches over the next few days. Teams will not only be looking to be cautious with their opponents, but, in a philosophical sense, they’ll be looking to discover themselves as well.

Here are my picks for this Valentine’s round of play:     Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 19


Paulo Fonseca's touchline ban can only hurt Pacos Ferreira's chances against Porto this weekend. Photo: Publico

Paulo Fonseca’s touchline ban can only hurt Pacos Ferreira’s chances against Porto this weekend. Photo: Publico

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. You won’t find a better analysis of last weekend’s Primeira Liga action than Charles Dickens’ introductory sentiment in his classic A Tale of Two Cities. It was as if the Portuguese soccer world turned on its head overnight: All the minnows became giants and all the winners became losers. All, that is, except for the Lions of Lisbon, who were the only top-five team to escape the round with a victory.

Depending on where you pledge your allegiance, you were either thrilled or distraught; no doubt most neutrals loved the results as they blew what was once a foregone conclusion of a title race wide open to a three team race that, if last week’s scores are anything to go by, could go either way down the stretch.

As Portuguese football fans, we were treated to a number of curious results and shock upsets that thoroughly entertained us in one way or another; as Portuguese football prognosticators, however, we were made complete fools of and left to pick up the pieces of our shattered confidence.

My confidence in particular has left the building along with Elvis: I only correctly guessed the winner of one match (Sporting over Academica) and came away from the weekend with an embarrassing 1-8 record. I now have an overall record of 6-12. Yikes. I guess my new approach didn’t pay off huh?

Something tells me I wasn’t the only one cryin’ like a hound dog when it was all over though. I mean, who in their right mind would’ve tipped Vitoria de Guimaraes to drop points at home against last place Gil Vicente, or, Benfica, Porto, AND Braga to lose to the likes of Pacos de Ferreira, Maritimo, and Boavista? It’s insanity I tell ya – insanity!

But, let’s be honest, that’s what makes betting – even just friendly betting with no money involved – fun. Nothing is a sure thing no matter how much we’d like to believe it is, and, it’s the mystery that keeps us engaged.

Speaking of a mystery, who knows how my picks will play out this week? If I have another terrible showing I might just revert to flipping a coin or pulling teams out of a hat to see if my record becomes more respectable. But, for the time being, I’m taking one more chance without literally resorting to chance. Here are my inclinations for the 19th round of play: Continue reading

Almeida Joins Quaresma, Fernandes, and Simao at Besiktas


Hugo AlmeidaIt is official. Hugo Almeida will ply his trade in Turkey at Besiktas. Almeida has been surrounded with speculation regarding his future. Real Madrid, Juventus, Besiktas, and Lazio have all stated their interest, but in the end, Besiktas have come out victorious. Besiktas have announced the signings of Manuel Fernandes, and Simao, all of whom will join Quaresma in the Turkish capital. Almeida signed a 3 and a half year contract, for a fee estimated around 2-3 million euros.

Ribeiro and Sa Called Up Early


Portugal National Team coach Paulo Bento has called up Joao Ribeiro and Orlando Sa early for the Seleccao’s upcoming game against Spain. Joao Ribeiro has been in top form for Vitoria Guimaraes, attracting the attention of clubs like Fulham and CSKA Moscow. Orlando Sa, who is currently on loan at Nacional from Porto, has also been impressing in the Liga Zon Sagres. If you will recall, Orlando Sa scored a hat-trick three years ago for the Portugal U-21 team against Spain. Maybe Bento is hoping for more of the same. Portugal face Spain in a friendly match on November 17 in an effort to strengthen their joint 2018(I think) World Cup bid. Vieirinha and Andre Santos are two other player who I think deserve call-ups, just in case you guys were wondering…

Fernandes and Micael Drafted in to Squad


Manuel Fernandes and Ruben Micael have been added into the Portugal squad ahead of their upcoming Euro 2012 qualification matches. Liedson and Miguel Veloso have withdrawn due to injury, so Paulo Bento has called up Micael and Fernandes in place of the two. Manuel Fernandes is enjoying a better season than last, having played in five games and started six. Ruben Micael really emerged last season as one of the finest midfielders playing in Portugal, thanks to his heroics for Nacional. Porto eagerly snapped him up during the January transfer window, and, after hurdling an injury, he has bounced back impressively, especially this season. Portugal are looking to improve on close to their worst possible start in Euro 2012 qualification.

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

Costinha Retires and Appointed D.O.F at Sporting


Former Portuguese international midfielder Costinha recently rescinded his contract with Atalanta, and today it was announced that he will become the new director of football at Sporting Lisbon. The former director of football for the Lions was Sa Pinto, but due to an altercation involving him and Liedson, he left the post. Costinha was a long time member of the Portuguese National Team, representing them at World Cup 2006 and Euros 2000 and 2004. He has also played in five different countries during his 16 year career, such as Atletico Madrid, AS Monaco, and FC Porto(where he won the Champions League and UEFA Cup). Hopefully with all of this experience, he will be helpful to Sporting, as they desperately try to salvage their dismal season.

Rocha and Teixeira Make Late Moves


For some reason, all of the good moves happen late. Former Benfica defender Ricardo Rocha, who has played for the likes of Tottenham and Standard Leige, has recently been without a club. Portsmouth, trying to fill the void that will be left from Kaboul’s departure to Tottenham, snatched up the injury-prone defender.

Elsewhere, Felipe Teixeira has made a loan move from West Brom to Barnesley. This move will be good for the Portuguese midfielder who has gotten limited playing time for the Championship side.