The Portuguese Managerial Merry-Go-Round: Summer 2015 Edition


Jorge Jesus, seen here as Benfica's coach, has taken over at Sporting

Jorge Jesus, seen here as Benfica’s coach, has taken over at Sporting

With the Portuguese domestic season now officially over, some of the country’s top clubs have wasted no time in looking for new leadership. As it stands now, Sporting, Benfica, Vitória Guimarães, Braga, and Paços Ferreira will all have new coaches for next season. And at the heart of all of this upheaval is Jorge Jesus, who scandalously chose to leave Benfica to coach their cross-town rivals Sporting Lisbon. Continue reading

João Cancelo’s Valencia Loan Made Permanent


Photo: Valencia CF

Photo: Valencia CF

João Cancelo

Benfica to Valencia

Valencia CF announced today their definitive purchase of Benfica’s João Cancelo. Cancelo played in Spain all season at Valencia, where he was on loan from the Portuguese giants. As part of the loan deal, Valencia had the option to purchase Cancelo outright for 15 million euros, and though the final price of the deal has not been announced, it is believed to be 15 million.

This deal represents yet another sale of a talented young player for big profit, following in the footsteps of André Gomes and Bernardo Silva. Gomes was at most a bench player at Benfica, but has since thrived at Valencia. Silva had yet to even break into the first team at Benfica, but his 15 million euro move to Monaco has proven a tidy bit of business for the French club, after some increasingly impressive performances. If this deal is to be compared to that of Gomes and Silva, we can expect big things from João Cancelo in the near future.

Of the deal, Cancelo said: “[I am] very happy to continue at Valencia CF, whom I hope to help for a long time to come. I will always carry Benfica in my heart, but now my biggest dream is to continue giving my best for Valencia CF, growing with the team and repaying the great confidence that the club have shown in me.” (Valencia CF) His deal runs until 2021.

Hélio Sousa Announces U-20 World Cup Squad


Rony Lopes in action last summer for the Portugal U-19s

Rony Lopes in action last summer for the Portugal U-19s. Lopes is possibly the most well-known name to be included in Sousa’s team.

Portugal U-20 head coach Hélio Sousa announced today Portugal’s 21-man squad for the U-20 World Cup, which begins later this month. The team is largely comprised of players who featured for the Portugal U-19 at last summer’s U-19 European Championship. Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 22


Can Nani s Sporting rebound this weekend after two discouraging performances? Photo: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Can Nani’s Sporting rebound this weekend after two discouraging performances? Photo: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

It’s alive! It’s alive! After 5 mediocre to subpar weeks, my prediction record is alive! And I’m the king of the world!

OK, I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself here on Oscar weekend, but, I can’t help it – I had a great week! My overall record has improved to 21-24 thanks to a round that saw me go 7-2 with my predictions, including correctly guessing the exact score of three games. The only 2 teams that let me down were Sporting and Penafiel; THAT my friends, is quite the achievement. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.

But, I’m not naïve. I’ve experienced a 1-8 week before and I know the same thing could easily happen this week, thus sinking me like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic. I hope that’s not the case though.

I want to show you all the money – by money I mean sharing bragging rights of course – but, at the same time, I’m realistic and I expect to be brought down to Earth a little. Gravity rules. What goes up must come down.

I just don’t want to come too down. I consistently need more wins than losses if I’m going to play this prognostication game well, and, in case you haven’t noticed, I do want to play this game well. In fact, I want someone to hand me a shiny gold statue for “Best Performance by a Portuguese Prognosticator” when the season comes to a close. But that can only happen if I have more weeks like last week. And, that’s gonna be tough given the unpredictability of Liga NOS.

If the previous Valentine’s round was all about identity, then, this Oscar edition, should, appropriately, be all about drama: In the reverse matches of round 22 played earlier in the season, a man was sent off in 7 of the 9 games, radically changing the outcome in nearly every one. Now, while I don’t necessarily expect the same kind of thing to happen this time around, that fact, in and of itself, sets up some very intriguing rematches to follow.

I suspect this week, like every other week in Portugal, will be fun to watch. Get your popcorn ready; the features are about to start. Here are my previews and predictions for round 22:


Continue reading

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 20


Can Marco Silva's Sporting side defeat Benfica and push for the title? Photo: SAPO Desporto

Can Marco Silva’s Sporting side defeat Benfica and push for the title? Photo: SAPO Desporto

Hello again Primeira Liga fans, and welcome to another edition of the Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP)! This weekend marks the 20th round of play, and boy, there are some exciting fixtures on the schedule. One game in particular should have your eyes firmly planted on it from start to finish. I’m sure you already know which one I’m referring to. If you don’t, you will by the end of this article.

Last week was a bit of a bounce back week for me – if, in fact, you can even call a 4-5 week a “bounce back” week – in that I rebounded after that horrendous 1-8 record the weekend before. But, if we’re perfectly honest, there really was nowhere to go but up, so, I’m not really sure I should be celebrating. A 10-17 overall record leaves much to be desired. Continue reading

Show Must Go On – Benfica Transfer Window Summary


Benfica logoTransfers windows haven’t been kind to Benfica recently and there were no exceptions this winter window with the departure of the influential Argentine Enzo Perez, who left the club to join rejuvenated Valencia in Spain for €25 million. The Portuguese League Player of the Year was joined by highly rated Portuguese youngster, Bernardo Silva on the way out of Lisbon as his loan deal with resurrected French side Monaco was made permanent for €15,75 million. On the other hand, there were some additions to the Benfica side, the more notable being Jonathan Rodríguez who joined the Portuguese giants on a two-year loan deal following controversies. Continue reading