Lisbon on Tuesday plays host to an enticing first round match between Euro giants SL Benfica and FC Zenit St. Petersburg in Group C Champions League action. PortugalFutbol.net has combined forces with our Russian counterparts at RussianFootballNews.com to provide you with a comprehensive preview of this clash of titans. Continue reading
Porto to Braga
According to SC Braga’s website, Emidio Rafael has joined the club from Porto until the end of the season. At the end of the season, there is an option in the player’s contract for the club to extend the deal for a further three years. Rafael enjoyed success at Academica under Andre Villas-Boas during the 2009-2010 season, and when Boas began coaching at Porto the following season, Emidio was one of his first purchases. It was expected that Rafael would play second-fiddle to Alvaro Pereira. In the few appearances Emidio made for the club, he impressed, so much so that he was pre-selected for the Portugal National Team. A horrific injury to his foot, however, sidelined him for the rest of the 2010-2011 season, and another injury kept him out for the entire 2011-2012 season, as Porto lifted the trophy for the second year in a row. Now, Braga have taken a chance with the defender; a chance that may pay off.
News came out today that Croatian midfielder Luka Modric had completed Tottenham to Real Madrid for a staggering 33 million euros. This move thins out what was an already thick midfield in regards to talent. On Tottenham’s roster are the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Rafael Van der Vaart, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jake Livermore, Scott Parker, and Sandro, all of whom are, or have been, regular internationals. Though it appears that more spending in the midfield may not be necessary, it appears that it will nevertheless happen.
All summer, Tottenham have been linked with a host of midfielders, in response to the almost imminent departure of star man Modric. One such player is Porto’s Joao Moutinho. Currently a mainstay of the Porto team, Moutinho dictates the play on the pitch. When he plays, Porto looks noticeably better. When he is benched, the team suffers. His role is that of a box-to-box midfielder. Gifted with loads of stamina, Moutinho will bounce around on the pitch, winning balls, and distributing them out. He’s not simply a tough player, though. At Porto, Moutinho has formed a reputation for being able to play a killer ball through the middle or out to the wings. This is much the same as Luka Modric at Tottenham. The two are similar in their basic strengths, but the are some minor differences (Modric is a better passer, Moutinho is scrappier). The gist of all of this is that Joao Moutinho and Luka Modric are similar players. Keep that in mind.
Joao Moutinho was born and raised a Sporting Lisbon player. He joined the Under-14 Sporting Lisbon team in 1999, aged just 13. He stayed at the club all the way until 2010, when Porto controversially purchased him. He, along with Miguel Veloso, was the crown jewel of the club, as he and Veloso’s development was because of the team’s youth setup. Moutinho was made vice-captain at age 19, and soon after, was named captain. It seemed like he would be a mainstay at Sporting for years to come. That was not to be the case however. An Andre Villas-Boas-led Porto bought him at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, and he has never looked back. This move was a curious one, as Moutinho was arguably in the darkest part of his career at the time of his move to Porto. He had just been excluded from the Portuguese team at the World Cup, and had just come off a sub-par year with Sporting. On top of that, he was moving to a club in the midst of a change of managers; from one extremely experienced manager to an unproven rookie. Porto, it should also be said, had only achieved third place in the league the season before. Because of all of this, his move to Porto was a strange one, but it proved to be extremely fruitful.
It now appears that Moutinho may be reunited with Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham. Last season, when Villas-Boas was the Chelsea boss, there was speculation that he would move for Moutinho. It’s no secret that Villas-Boas is a fan of Moutinho, but with the coach also weighing up moves for French international Yann M’Vila, Dutch international Ibrahim Afellay, Shakhtar star Willian, and American international Clint Dempsey, will a move for Moutinho actually happen?
Bosingwa’s days at Chelsea aren’t looking quite as numbered as they did six months ago. After receiving the blow that he was to miss the 2010 World Cup, Bosingwa’s usual starting spot at Chelsea seemed to be up for grabs under then-coach Carlo Ancelotti. That having been said, Bosingwa amassed no less than 20 appearances in the league last term. Many of those, however, were from the bench or involved him getting substituted out in the second half. Under new coach Andre Villas Boas, life has returned to Bosingwa’s play. The right back has made the right back spot his own this season. His contract is due to expire at the end of this season, but as a result of his stellar performances, Chelsea is eager to renew it.
Chelsea full-back Bosingwa has thanked his new coach, Andre Villas Boas, for reviving his career. After making the move from Portuguese giants Porto to Chelsea after Euro 2008, Bosingwa initially impressed, easily winning a place in the starting eleven. In October of 2009, however, Bosingwa injured his knee, ruling him out for the rest of the season and of the World Cup. Upon his return, the right-back was not his usual attacking engine. He did receive playing time at Chelsea. He received enough to be called up for and play 90 minutes in Portugal’s 4-0 demolition of Spain. Bosingwa still didn’t look back to his best. After then Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti was replaced by Andre Villas Boas this summer, Bosingwa has seen a resurgence in his career, putting in some displays early in this season that suggest that the old Bosingwa is back. “The manager is important because he believes in me. If I don’t train well he won’t pick me to play but he has been very good for me because he trusts in me and is picking me,” Bosingwa said to the London Evening Standard.
Porto’s 22 year-old midfielder, Andre Castro, has completed his loan move to Liga BBVA strugglers, Sporting Gijon. Castro has found playing time hard to come by at the Estadio Dragao. Castro played the past few seasons at Olhanense, and his performances were impressive enough to earn a call-up to the Porto first-team this season. He has since made most of his appearances from the bench. In order to get more playing time, Castro has left for La Liga relegation battlers Sporting Gijon on loan for the remainder of the season, without an option to buy. At the beginning of the loan negotiations, there was an option to buy, but I suppose Andre Vilas Boas has wised-up and decided that Andre Castro could be an asset to the team in the future.