Portugal Impress at Toulon


Portugal U-20s Third Place Toulon 2014

photo courtesy fpf.pt

Portugal Under-20 Team

Toulon Tournament

Third Place

The future of Portuguese football looks bright. The Portuguese under-20 team defeated England 1-0 yesterday to claim third place in this year’s edition of the Toulon Tournament. The tournament is set up for youth teams to participate, with most teams sending under-21 squads. Portugal typically sends an under-20 side, and has used the tournament as a way to prepare for the U-20 World Cup.

The team has had varying degrees of success in the past, finishing fourth last year and failing to leave the group in 2011 (just before reaching the final of the U-20 World Cup). This year, the team surprised everyone, finishing third. Let’s look at how they made it there.

The team was coached by Ilidio Vale, who has been at the helm since 2010, guiding the team in two U-20 World Cups and two Toulon Tournaments previous to this tournament. The coach chose commanding Sporting Lisbon defender Tobias Figueiredo as the team’s captain. Other notable players included in the squad were Ruben Vezo, who squeezed his way into Valencia’s first team at the end of the season, Joao Cancelo, who made his debut for Benfica’s first team at the end of the season and is a regular for Benfica B, Ricardo Horta, who played a vital role in Vitoria Setubal’s impressive run this season, and Bruno Fernandes, who made 23 first team appearances for Udinese this season. And indeed it was these players who performed well for Portugal at the tournament, each playing a role in the third place finish.

Portugal were grouped with Mexico, Chile, France, and China in Group A. After duly dispatching Mexico with two deflected goals from Joao Teixeira and Helder Costa, the Portuguese continued their march on with another impressive victory, this time over Chile. Goals from Leandro Silva, a beautiful individual effort from Helder Costa, and Bruno Fernandes ensured the team defeated Chile 3-1. Next, the team faced a Chinese side that tied hosts France 1-1. Not thinking twice, Portugal defeated China 4-1, with Ricardo Horta scoring twice and Ruben Semedo and Helder Costa picking up the other goals. To qualify for the final, Portugal needed to defeat France in their final Group A game, and despite their best efforts, Portugal fell 2-1 to France, thus finishing second in the group, qualifying for the third-place match.

England were the other second-placed team in the tournament, meaning that they would be Portugal’s opponents in the third-place match. Portugal and England have a long footballing rivalry, with both the countries’ senior teams meeting in Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. On both of those occasions, Portugal came out on top of the rivalry, and this time out, Portugal managed a win again. Ricardo Horta scored the only goal of the game, which was enough for Portugal to edge out England 1-0 and claim third-place for the 2014 Toulon Tournament.

Match Report: Portugal 2-0 China


Portugal edged China on Wednesday, with the typical great first-half showing, and the abysmal second-half showing. Goals were scored by Hugo Almeida and Liedson. Porto winger Varela debuted for the Seleccao, who were sporting their brand-spanking-new World Cup away jerseys. Henrique Hilario also made his national team debut, coming on for Eduardo.

Portugal started off the game looking confident, with Nani and Almeida both coming close to breaking the deadlock, but just after the 30 minute mark, Cristiano Ronaldo won the ball at half-line, and threaded his pin-point pass to Hugo Almeida, who blasted it into the back of the net. Soon after, Duda’s beautifully taken free-kick ricocheted off of the crossbar. Portugal were not really searching for that second goal. The second half was hard to watch. Due to all of the substitutions, Portugal failed to really find their flow, and with Tiago having been substituted out, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles were not filling the void well. The best chance of the second half fell to Raul Meireles, who sent his powerful shot into the post after some nice wing play from Varela left him with a shot. With the final minutes ticking away, it looked as if the score would stay at 1-0. In the 94th minute, however, a Raul Meireles corner kick was headed to Moutinho, whose long shot was deflected into the goal by Liedson, making the final score 2-0 Portugal.

Overall it was a decent showing, but Portugal have a lot of work to do if they wish to advance out of their World Cup group.

Eduardo (Hilario, 46), Paulo Ferreira, Rolando, Bruno Alves (Tonel, 63), Duda (Miguel, 46), Raul Meireles, Tiago (Pedro Mendes, 46), Simao (Joao Moutinho, 46), Cristiano Ronaldo (Liedson, 46), Hugo Almeida, Nani (Varela, 62)

Highlights:

Queiroz Releases List of Seventeen


Carlos Queiroz released a 17-man squad list today for Portugal’s upcoming friendly match against China. Included in this squad is Porto playmaker, Varela, who has yet to make his debut for the Senior National Team. Varela has been prolific for Porto this season, scoring some wonderful and vital goals, so it came as no surprise when Queiroz called the winger up for the first time. Sporting duo Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso were surprisingly not included in this squad. Queiroz stated that players called up for the U-23 team, and not the Senior Team, still have quite a large chance at playing at the World Cup, saying:  For me the U23 team, together with the senior team, allows all players to obtain visibility and experience. Some will play against Wales, others against China. My decisions regarding these two squads were made jointly in preparation for the World Cup,

Here’s the full squad:

Atlético de Madrid: Simão Sabrosa e Tiago
Chelsea FC: Hilário, Paulo Ferreira e Ricardo Carvalho
Málaga CF: Duda
Manchester United FC: Nani
FC Porto: Bruno Alves, Raul Meireles, Rolando e Varela
Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo
Sporting: Liedson e Pedro Mendes
SC Braga: Eduardo
Valência: Miguel
Werder Bremen: Hugo Almeida

2010 Friendlies


So far, only one international friendly for Portugal has been announced. Portugal is playing China on March 3. The friendlies leading up to the World Cup are always quite vital, because it shows the National Team coach who will be a good pick for the World Cup.

Here’s my squad for the China friendly:

Goalkeepers

Eduardo – The Braga goalkeeper has been very solid this seasn, helping Braga to first in the Portuguese Liga.

Beto – I think that Beto deserves to be included on the World Cup roster, even though he has been getting limited playing time at Porto. Soon, Helton will probably fall out of favor, and Beto can show his worth, because he certainly did at Leixoes.

Rui Patricio – The Sporting no.1 has not been impressive as of late, but that is partly due to his club’s abysmal form. Having said that, he still deserves at least a debut for the National Team, because a bright future is surely ahead of him.

Defenders

Ricardo Carvalho – The Chelsea veteran forms a solid partnership with Bruno Alves. The showed us that throughout World Cup qualifying, only conceding five goals.

Bruno Alves – The Porto captain has earned quite a few plaudits for his performances in the Portuguese Liga and the Champions league. Like I said above, he forms a rock-solid partnership with Ricardo Carvalho. I also believe he should be Portugal’s captain. He shows more leadership currently that Ronaldo.

Miguel Veloso – Veloso has shown that he is just as capable playing left-back as he is at playing Defensive mid.(thats why I put him on defense). The Sporting midfielder has been in arguably his best run of form lately. His vision and positioning are superior, as he showed us for Sporting and for Portugal against Malta.

Joao Pereira – the former Braga man recently made a 2.6 million pound switch to Sporting, and has since put in some impressive man-of-the-match displays. His debut is long overdue.

Cesar Peixoto – Peixoto may be our left-back solution(along with Miguel Veloso). Peixoto, hasn’t been much of a regular for Benfica, but has gotten ample playing time.

Rolando – Has formed a solid partnership with Bruno Alves at Porto. Once Ricardo Carvalho retires, he will probably be one of the starting center-backs for Portugal.

Midfielders

Raul Meireles – Has had a solid season for the Dragons. Has more recently been vital for the Sellecao, as shown at the away leg at Bosnia last year.

Joao Moutinho – Deserves a starting spot on the National Team. His main weakness would have to be his slight body structure. He has great stamina, but he would easily get pushed around by some of the bigger teams. Having said that, he would probably do fine against the likes of China.

Ruben Micael – For some time now, I (and most other people) have been scratching our heads wondering why this young, talented midfielder hasn’t gotten a call from Queiroz. He has been amazing for Nacional(especially in the Europa league), and so far has lived up to all expectations at Porto. He definitely deserves a call-up.

Silvestre Varela – This young man has been absolutely, utterly, unbelievably superb for F.C. Porto this season. It’s like he came out of nowhere. His recent form should earn him a call-up for the friendlies, if not the World Cup itself.

Hugo Viana – The former Young European Footballer of the Year wasn’t making the grade at Valencia, but his loan to Sporting Braga has proved the polar opposite. He, along with Eduardo, have helped Braga to first in the Portuguese Liga. Though Viana isn’t quite as good as he was in his “wonder” years, he is in quite impressive form, and is probably one of the most impressive midfielders playing in Portugal.

Pedro Mendes – My nickname for him is “the rock”, because that’s how he defends. He is more capable at defense than some of the Premier League defenders I’ve been watching. Mendes had some almost man-of-the-match displays against Malta and Hungary last year. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but he certainly exceeded expectations.

Deco – The Chelsea playmaker hasn’t hit form at Chelsea(comparing to Barcelona), but he still possesses the vision that Portugal could use. Deco recently announced that he is to retire after this summer’s World Cup. So, in the meantime, lets use him, because he won’t be around forever.

Duda – The Malaga man has hit close-to top form this season. Of course, that’s what we thought last season too. He is a huge asset to the team, mainly for his abilities to play anywhere on the left flank.

Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo – If the Real Madrid man doesn’t get injured(or something more crazy), then he would be a valuable asset to the team. I think the rest goes without saying.

Simao – Simao has always been consistent for the Sellecao, but more recently hasn’t been wrongfully overshadowed by the likes of Quaresma and Ronaldo. I wouldn’t mind if he became our permanent captain.

Hugo Almeida – the burly center-forward has been starting to get overshadowed be Pizarro at Werder Bremen, but he still possesses the heading-ability and height that the Sellecao desperately needs.

Nani – recently, at United, Nani has showed his worth for the Manchester club, putting in some world-class displays. Last year at both of the Bosnia games, Nani had a “coming of age”. He has consistently shown us that he is helpful to the Sellecao, and I’m sure he will in years to come.

Liedson – Our latest addition to the Portuguese squad is a Brazilian-born player. Liedson shut all of the critics mouths when he headed in the equalizer in the dying minutes of the game against Denmark. Since then, he has scored another goal, a header, against Hungary.

Carlos Saleiro – I may be crazy on this one, but I have been thoroughly impressed by the burly center-forward. He has a knack in front of goal, and kond-of came out of nowhere.

Portugal to Face China


Portugal’s first friendly match of 2010 is now scheduled. On March 3, Portugal will play China in Portugal as a warmup match for the World Cup. Hopefully this will be a good chance to see what the North Korea game will be like at the World Cup. This will also be a good chance to see which players are worthy of playing at the World Cup, and to get some much-needed team confidence.