Ronaldo Hat-trick Enough to Quell Armenia Comeback


Photo: Lusa

Photo: Lusa

Armenia 2-3 Portugal

Euro 2016 Qualifying

A superb hat-trick from Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to earn Portugal a 3-2 victory against Armenia in tonight’s Euro 2016 qualification match. Portugal came into this match knowing that a win would all but guarantee them a place in next summer’s tournament. Despite going behind in the first half, Portugal responded well, scoring three goals to swell the lead to 3-1. But in the 62nd minute, Tiago received his marching orders, after picking up a second yellow. Just ten minutes later, Armenia scored, narrowing Portugal’s lead to one goal. That prompted a tense end to the match, but Portugal did enough to hold on for the win.  Continue reading

Liga NOS Players Rewarded by Fernando Santos; 25-Man U-21 Squad Named


Fernando Santos - Denmark vs PortugalPortugal head coach Fernando Santos named today a squad of 25 to face Armenia and Italy. The Portuguese National Team faces Armenia in a Euro 2016 qualification match on June 13th, before facing Italy in a friendly match three days later. Santos used this opportunity to call up a number of players who have impressed this season, both in Portugal and Spain. Danilo Pereira, Pizzi, and André André all earned calls, after excellent seasons for Marítimo, Benfica and Vitória Guimarães, respectively. In addition, Daniel Carriço earned his first call, after his excellent season saw him lift the Europa League trophy with Sevilla for the second time in two seasons.  Continue reading

Portuguese National Team: Highs and Lows


Fernando Santos led the team to two wins against two difficult opponents

Fernando Santos led the team to two wins against two difficult opponents

It was a big week for the National team heading into games 3 & 4 of Fernando Santos’ tenure. The good news now is in competitive matches he sports a 2-0 record, and overall has a record of 3 wins from 4 matches. I for one was not a fan of the hiring because with his pending suspension it puts the team in a precarious situation, but not one to cry over spilled milk, I also like to give folks a chance before I criticize them. Continue reading

Preview: Portugal vs Armenia


Tiago Gomes could start against Armenia. Photo Record.xl.pt

Tiago Gomes could start against Armenia. Photo Record.xl.pt

Fernando Santos will look to build on a sound start to his tenure in the Portuguese dugout ahead of a clash against Group I dark horses Armenia in the Algarve. Having come away with the three points in Copenhagen after a last-gasp Cristiano Ronaldo effort, A Seleção da Quinas will be confident of building on a professional display in their last hit-out in front of a packed Faro crowd. Continue reading

Euro 2016 Qualifying Groups Drawn


Paulo BentoUEFA announced the other day the qualifying groups for Euro 2016. Portugal were drawn with Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, and Albania. Portugal will be wary of facing Denmark and Albania again, having had trouble with the two in previous qualifying campaigns.

It is worth noting that qualification for Euro 2016 will be much easier than in previous tournaments. Euro 2016 will be the first European championship where the number of participating teams is 24, having been expanded from 16 in 2012. This translates into the top two teams in each group qualifying directly, while the third-place in each group qualifies for a playoff.

Portugal faced Denmark in qualification for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. The Danes proved to be worthy opponents, topping the group each time, and forcing Portugal to qualify via the play-off. In the four times Portugal and Denmark met in the two qualifying phases, Denmark won 2, Portugal won 1, and the teams drew once. It is evident that Denmark is not a team to take lightly. Though their momentum has slowed as of late (the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup), Denmark still packs a punch.

Serbia is another team that has the potential to cause problems for Portugal in qualification. Combining proven stars like Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolorov, Nemanja Matic, and Adem Ljajic with up-and-coming talents such as Lazar Markovic, Milos Jojic, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia is also not a team to be taken lightly. The Serbia U-19 team was victorious last summer at the 2013 UEFA U-19 European Championships, and a few of the players from that tournament have made the move to the full national team. This mix of established, world-class stars and up-and-coming youngsters give Serbia an air of unpredictability. Though they have fallen short in recent qualification tournaments (the last tournament they qualified for was the 2010 World Cup), Serbia are a much different team now.

Armenia are somewhat of an unknown entity. Armenia is a small country of barely over three million inhabitants, bordered by Iran, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The team has never qualified for a major tournament, and, frankly, has hardly ever come anywhere close to qualifying. That is, until the 2014 World Cup. Armenia was drawn with Italy, Czech Republic, Malta, Bulgaria, and Denmark. The team started off slowly, losing to Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, and Malta, but absolutely stunned Denmark, winning 4-0 in Denmark. The team then managed to defeat Bulgaria and Czech Republic before rounding off their campaign with a 2-2 draw in Italy. Though Armenia didn’t come very close to qualifying, they turned some heads with their impressive performances against Denmark and Italy, two of Europe’s top sides.

Portugal last met Albania in 2010 World Cup qualification, and though the team did not offer much competition, the Seleccao still only managed two draws (including one last-gasp 2-2 draw to keep their qualification hopes alive). Portugal tend to play down to their opponents level, which is why the team has had problems with Albania in the past. If the Seleccao can manage to play well, Albania should be no match.