Top 5 U-24 Liga Players from 2013/2014 Season…Outside the Top 3


Some players come into the spotlight because of playing for a big club. Their performances may not be any more noteworthy than other players’, but they continue to get press recognition because of the club that they play for. As a result, there are sometimes players whose solid performances fly under the radar; players who do not get as much hype. In Portugal, there has become a domination from teams known as “The Big Three.” Made up of Sporting, Benfica, and Porto, the “Big Three” has not been as clearly defined in recent seasons (Pacos Ferreira finished third in 2012/2013, Braga has risen to prominence, as has Estoril). This past season, however, “The Big Three” were back again with Benfica finishing 1st, Sporting 2nd, and Porto 3rd. As stated above, players from clubs outside of the “Big Three” in Portugal sometimes don’t really rise to prominence until they earn a move to one of the “Big Three” or abroad. That’s not to say their performances aren’t worthy of recognition. So, Portugal Football has decided to list the…

Top 5 Under-24 Liga Zon Sagres Players from the 2013/2014 Season…Outside the “Big Three”

Joao Mario - Vitoria Setubal1. Joao Mario – Vitoria Setubal (on loan from Sporting Lisbon)

The very fact that Joao Mario tops our list despite only spending half of a season at Vitoria Setubal says a lot. A center midfielder by trade, Mario is widely regarded as one of Portugal’s top prospects. In his 15 league appearances for Setubal, Mario helped his team to notable draws against Benfica and Sporting, and played a large role in the team’s impressive season. His performances were impressive enough to earn him a starting spot with the Portuguese Under-21 team and a role in Sporting’s first team for this season.

Andre Andre - Vitoria Guimaraes2. Andre Andre – Vitoria Guimaraes

The oldest on our list, Andre Andre has become an irreplaceable part of Rui Vitoria’s side. Andre has garnered attention abroad from his performances this season, and it comes as no surprise. The center midfielder made 37 appearances in all competitions, leading the team through a campaign both in the Liga Zon Sagres and the Europa League. Dinamo Zagreb are said to be interested in Andre, but if he gets another solid season under his belt, there will likely be larger clubs interested.

Bebe - Pacos Ferreira3. Bebe – Pacos Ferreira (on loan from Manchester United)

Bebe was the laughing stock of English football after his ill-fated move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Manchester United in 2010. And to a certain extent, he still is. But not in Portugal. Bebe was on loan this season at Pacos Ferreira from Manchester United. Though the side struggled, barely managing to avoid relegation, Bebe shone. The Manchester United man struck 12 times for the team in only 27 appearances. These statistics are even more impressive when you consider that he scored these from his primary position out wide. His scoring exploits made him the highest scoring Portuguese player in the league last season, and Manchester United have opted to take him on their pre-season tour most likely as a result of his performances. But Manchester United will have to fend off interest from Benfica, who are reportedly very interested in acquiring his services.

Ricardo Horta - Vitoria Setubal4. Ricardo Horta – Vitoria Setubal

Last season was possibly the best debut season Ricardo Horta could have hoped for. A product of both Benfica’s and Vitoria Setubal’s youth setups, Horta was promoted to Setubal’s first team this season. After impressive performances early in the season, Horta was awarded a starting spot and never looked back. Finishing the season with seven goals in 34 appearances on the wing, Horta was named to the Portuguese Under-20 team’s Toulon Tournament squad, scoring the deciding goal in the third place match against England. Malaga are said to be very interested and extremely close to signing the player, and it comes as no surprise. And he’s only 19!

Danilo Pereira - Maritimo5. Danilo Pereira – Maritimo

A product of Benfica’s famed youth academy, Danilo Pereira first rose to prominence at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he performed admirably in Portugal’s midfield, helping them to a second place finish. A move abroad ensued, and after some more spells abroad, Pereira ended up at Maritimo last season. Pereira appeared 28 times for the Madeira-based club, helping them to a mid-table finish. His performances drew the interest of Sporting, who many speculate see him as the natural successor to William Carvalho.

Ones to Watch – Liga Zon Sagres 2013/2014


Portugal’s Liga Zon Sagres has formed a reputation for being one of the best formative leagues in Europe. With a seemingly endless conveyer-belt of talent flowing out of the league, it is no wonder that so many young players choose Portugal over other countries. Players such as David Luiz, Fabio Coentrao, Di Maria, Joao Moutinho, Hulk, and Falcao (among others) have all spent their formative years in the Iberian country, only to make multi-million euro moves abroad to some of the finest teams in the world.

This season, there are many young Portuguese talents who will be hoping to emulate the likes of Coentrao and Joao Moutinho; with hopes to earn a big move abroad; with hopes to be noticed by Paulo Bento and be selected for the national team. Regardless, there is much hope, both for the players and the spectators. At the root of all of this is a single hope: that Portuguese football may grow.

In this segment, Portugal Football is highlighting 25 under-22 Portuguese players from across the Liga Zon Sagres. These players are certainly players to watch for. Some are already proven players, while some are yet to showcase their talents on the big stage. So, without further ado, the ones to watch.

Academica

Anibal Capela - Academica

NAME 

AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
 Anibal Capela  22  Center Defense  29

Belenenses

Tiago Silva - Belenenses

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Silva  20  Attacking Midfield  46

Benfica

Andre Almeida - Benfica

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Andre Almeida  22  Midfield/Wingback  40

Andre Gomes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Andre Gomes  20  Center Midfield  27

 

Braga

Luis Silva - Braga 2013-2014 preseason

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Silva  20  Center Midfield  44

Rafa - Braga 2013-2014 preseason

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Rafa  20  Attacking Midfield  47

Salvador Agra - Braga

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Salvador Agra  21  Winger  23

Estoril

Leandro - Estoril

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Leandro  21  Forward  36

Gil Vicente

Luis Martins - Gil Vicente

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Martins  21  Left-Back  33

Maritimo

Danilo Pereira - Maritimo

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Danilo Pereira  21  Defensive Midfield  31

Nacional

Miguel Rodrigues - Nacional

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Miguel Rodrigues  20  Center Defense  19

Jota - Nacional

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Jota  20  Midfield  20

Olhanense

Pele - Olhanense

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Pele  21  Defensive Midfield  5

Pacos Ferreira

Sergio Oliveira - Pacos Ferreira

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Sergio Oliveira  21  Midfield  36

Porto

Tiago Rodrigues - Porto

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Rodrigues  21  Midfield  42

Ricardo - Porto

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo  19  Winger  37

Rio Ave

Luis Gustavo - Rio Ave

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Luis Gustavo  20  Midfield  24

Roderick - Rio Ave

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Roderick Miranda  22  Center Defense  16

Sporting

Tiago Ilori - Sporting

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Tiago Ilori  20  Center Defense  32

Cedric - Sporting

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Cedric  21  Right-Back  25

Vitoria Guimaraes

Paulo Oliveira - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Paulo Oliveira  21  Center Defense  43

Ricardo Gomes - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo Gomes  21  Forward  31

Cafu - Vitoria Guimaraes

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Cafu  20  Winger  23

Vitoria Setubal

Ricardo Horta - Vitoria Setubal

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Ricardo Horta  18  Forward  16

Miguel Lourenco - Vitoria Setubal

NAME  AGE  POSITION  2012-2013 APPS 
Miguel Lourenco  21  Center Defense  22

Euro 2012 Away Jersey Presented


In a ceremony on Sunday, Nike officially presented Portugal’s away kit for Euro 2012. The design is exactly the same as the leaked photo from a month back, being white with a red/green cross. Paulo Bento, Nelson Oliveira, Danilo Pereira, Raul Meireles, Bruno Alves, and Miguel Veloso were all present at the presentation. This is the jersey that will be worn in Portugal’s friendly against Poland tomorrow. Here are some of the pictures.

Rui Jorge Calls on 20 for Ukraine Friendly


Portugal U-21 team coach Rui Jorge called on twenty players for the team’s upcoming friendly match against Ukraine. The team is currently sitting in second in their U-21 Euro qualification group, behind Russia, and will look to continue their good form and push for the number one spot, and will use this friendly as a springboard towards that goal. Four players who featured at last summer’s U-20 World Cup made the team, those being Danilo, Mika, Luis Martins, and Cedric.

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Mika (Benfica)

Defenders: Cédric (Académica), Ivo Pinto (U. Leiria), João Pereira (FC Sheriff), Luís Martins (Benfica), Pedro Mendes (Real Madrid), Ruben Ferreira (Marítimo), Vítor Bastos (Atlético)

Midfielders: Ludovic (Feirense), André Almeida (Benfica), André Martins (Sporting), Danilo (Parma), David Simão (Académica), Diogo Amado (Estoril), Josué (P. Ferreira)

Forwards: Abel Camará (Beira-Mar), Rui Fonte (Español), Salvador Agra (Olhanense), Wilson Eduardo (Olhanense)

U20 World Cup Starlets: Midfielders and Forwards Season Update


Following Portugal’s stellar performance at the recent U-20 World Cup, many wondered whether the crop of players who went so far in the tournament would continue their form for their club teams. Let’s take a look at how the 2011-2012 season is going for each of those young, talented players.

Midfielders

Pele – The midfielder joined Genoa from Belenenses before last summer’s U-20 World Cup, but due to his solid performances, Milan snatched him up soon after the tournament ended. He has since been cycled into their youth setup, currently with the U-20 team. Pele recently made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Julio Alves – Much like Pele, Julio Alves was transferred to one club, only to turn around and move again, without having even played a match. Julio Alves, who is the younger brother of Bruno Alves, was transferred to Atletico Madrid from Rio Ave. On the last day of the transfer window, however, Besiktas snapped him up. He has only made the bench once for Besiktas, but has managed to debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Sana – The midfielder who was so instrumental in Portugal’s success at the U-20 World Cup has not had an equally impressive season. Sana only just managed his debut last week, which came from the substitute’s bench. As the season progresses, Sana will most likely become more of an integral part of Valladolid’s first team. Sana also made his debut with the Portugal U-21 team.

Alex – The Santa Clara midfielder, who most memorably scored in the final against Brazil at the U-20 World Cup, is enjoying a successful season. Alex has made seven appearances in all competitions so far this season, scoring three times. All signs are pointing to this being the breakout season for Alex.

Danilo Pereira – Pereira has mainly been playing for Parma’s top youth squad this season. This may seem a bit unfair as his performances at the U-20 World Cup suggested that he was ready to play at a higher level, but he will continue to develop while in the youth team. Pereira was called up early for the Portugal U-21 team for their upcoming matches next month.

Sergio Oliveira – The Porto prospect has been playing this season on loan at Belgian side Mechelen from Porto. Oliveira enjoyed a successful debut season last term for Liga Zon Sagres side Beira-Mar. The midfielder has played in four league matches for the Belgian team this season, and is continuing to look to impress.

Ricardo Dias – Having been released from Porto, Beira-Mar snapped up the midfielder quickly. Dias was mainly used as a substitute during the U-20 World Cup, and looks to be used similarly at Beira-Mar this season. He has yet to make his league debut, but has appeared on the bench for almost every game this season.

Forwards

Nelson Oliveira – The star of the show last summer has tried heroically to continue his form this season for Benfica’s first team, where coach Jorge Jesus stated Oliveira would spend the season. His efforts paid off as he made his official debut for the club, in a cup game. Oliveira has also made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team, and even started against Russia.

Amidio Balde – Balde has made five appearances so far this season for Cercle Brugge, where he is on loan from Sporting Lisbon. In those five appearances, the striker picked up his first, and only so far, goal for the club.

Caetano – 2010/2011 was a good debut season for Caetano. In fact, the diminutive striker was a revelation in the league last season. This season has not been as kind to him, however. Caetano has failed to find the net in the five times he has appeared this season for Pacos Ferreira.

Rafael Lopes – The striker with the afro who scored a lot got a haircut before the U-20 World Cup, and hasn’t scored since. Lopes racked up ten goals last season for Varzim, but has not scored yet this season. He has actually been quite awful.

Serginho – Serginho was transferred from Trofense to Beira-Mar at the end of the transfer window this August, but has yet to make an impact. The forward did not make a single appearance for the U-20 team during their World Cup run, even though he was integral to Trofense last season.

Arsenal and Liverpool Eyeing Danilo Pereira


Danilo Pereira, of Parma FC, is a transfer target for Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool, according to reports coming out of Portugal. Danilo was one of Portugal’s standout players in their 2nd place finish in this summer’s U-20 World Cup. The holding midfielder currently plays for Parma FC in Italy. He is set to return to the club after he was loaned last season to Aris, in the Greek league. Danilo’s performances have not gone unnoticed, however. Arsenal and Liverpool are now interested, and though a move is unlikely, it still makes for a good story. Clubs such as Arsenal and Liverpool are not stupid in their interest in Danilo. He has shown signs that he will develop into a world-class defensive midfielder.

Portugal Fall in Extra Time


Portugal 2-3 Brazil

Portugal fell in extra time after a 111th minute strike from Oscar gave Brazil the advantage. Portugal were not favorites coming into this game, mainly due to their apparent lack of attacking prowess. Previous to the game, Portugal had only scored five goals in the entire competition. Attacking didn’t turn out to be the problem, however. Brazil ripped open Portugal’s defense on numerous occasions. The game started off on a sour note for the Seleccao when a deflected Oscar free kick wriggled its way into the back of the Portuguese net. Portugal responded quickly however, when Nelson Oliveira burst into the box and squared the ball into the onrushing Alex, who made no mistake with his finish. Portugal took the lead soon after. Nelson Oliveira blew past the Brazil defense, and finished from a tight angle to make the score 2-1 Portugal. The lead lasted for a little under 20 minutes, however. Oscar scored again to level the game at 2-2 and send the game into extra time. Oscar scored again and completed his hat-trick in extra time to give Brazil the victory in a game they dominated.

Mika, Cedric(Julio Alves), Mario Rui, Roderick, Nuno Reis, Danilo Pereira, Sergio Oliveira, Sana(Ricardo Dias), Pele, Alex(Caetano), Nelson Oliveira

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Portugal Overcome France


Portugal 2-0 France

Portugal strolled to an easy 2-0 win over a strong France side to book a place in the final of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Portugal got off to a great start when Danilo towered over the French defense to head home an Alex corner kick. France had their opportunities, but Portugal’s solid defense stood firm. Portugal doubled their lead soon after, when Nelson Oliveira converted his penalty kick. The Seleccao never looked back, and came out with a 2-0 win, and their goals conceded tally stay at zero.

Mika, Cedric, Mario Rui, Roderick, Nuno Reis, Pele, Danilo, Julio Alves, Alex(Luis Martins), Sergio Oliveira(Tiago Ferreira), Nelson Oliveira(Rafael Lopes)

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

U-20s Record Back-to-Back Wins


The Portuguese Under-20 Team is through to the second round after two 1-0 wins over Cameroon and New Zealand each. Portugal’s overall play improved from their lackluster display against Uruguay in their opening match. The team added to their rock-solid defense a creative offense, and while it hasn’t gotten them goals, it has helped them just enough to reach the next round.

Portugal vs Cameroon

 

 

 

 

 

Portugal earned a deserved 1-0 victory over their African opponents on Tuesday. Nelson Oliveira scored the Seleccao’s only goal, which was enough to get them the win. Portugal controlled the majority of the match, and enjoyed much more success in their attack than they did against Uruguay. Their attack all payed off when two poor clearances from Cameroon’s defenders gave Nelson Oliveira a one-on-one situation. The Benfica man took his goal well, calmly lobbing it over the keeper to make the score 1-0. Portugal continued to control the match, but the game would end at 1-0.

Mika, Nuno Reis, Roderick, Cedric, Luis Martins(Mario Rui), Pele, Danilo Pereira, Julio Alves(Ricardo Dias), Alex, Nelson Oliveira, Caetano(Amidio Balde)

Portugal vs New Zealand

 

 

 

 

The Seleccao U-20 sealed their place in the second round with their 1-0 win over New Zealand. Mario Rui scored the only goal of the match, but that was enough to give Portugal a deserved 1-0 win. Many are wondering, however, how the score was not more than 1-0. Portugal had many opportunities, mainly through Nelson Oliveira, who enjoyed a splendid game.

Mika, Nuno Reis, Roderick(Tiago Ferreira), Mario Rui, Cedric, Pele, Danilo Pereira(Sergio Oliveira), Alex, Julio Alves, Nelson Oliveira, Caetano(Ricardo Dias)

 

The Portuguese Under-20 team will now face Guatemala in the Round of 16 of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Guatemala have not looked impressive at all, losing 6-0 to Saudi Arabia and 5-0 to Nigeria, so a comfortable win should be in the bag. The quality of this Portuguese team is evident, and will continue to grow as the team finds its feet in this competition. Nelson Oliveira and Caetano have already shown that they are destined for bigger things, and players such as Pele, Danilo Pereira, and our entire defense have shown what they are capable of. Portugal will go far in this tournament. Mark my words.

Portuguese Settle For Draw


The Portuguese National Under-20 Team settled for a draw tonight against Uruguay. Both Portugal and Uruguay controlled the game from time to time and were, overall, even. Portugal showed more possession in the first half of play, but Uruguay stepped up their game in the second half and shackled Portugal’s play. Both teams came close at times, most notably when Sergio Oliveira hit the post with a marvelous free-kick, and when Uruguay’s captain, Diego Polenta, rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort.

Overall, Portugal played a defensive, possession-first game. The service to the forwards was not always the best, with Sana to be partially at fault. Danilo Pereira and Pele both excelled in their defensive midfield duties, but they would often leave Sana and Sergio Oliveira to do most of the creative attacking work in the midfield, due to their defensive approach. By far the most important aspect of the team was the defense. Nuno Reis and Roderick were water-tight, shutting down Uruguayan advances all night. The outside backs (Cedric and Luis Martins) were solid also.

Mika, Nuno Reis, Roderick, Luis Martins, Cedric, Pele (Julio Alves), Danilo Pereira, Sana (Tiago Ferreira), Sergio Oliveira, Nelson Oliveira, Rafael Lopes (Alex)

Player Ratings:

Mika: 7 : Benfica’s new signing certainly lived up to his reputation with an assured display. He always looked confident in his handling.

Nuno Reis: 7 : The pairing of Roderick and Reis complement each other well. The defense was one of Portugal’s strong-suits tonight, no doubt because of him.

Roderick: 7 : As stated above, Roderick performed well in his defensive duties, constantly breaking up plays. His range of passing was also a sight to behold.

Luis Martins: 6.5 : Martins had a solid game defensively, but I would have liked to see him attack more.

Cedric: 7 : Portugal’s number 8 had both a solid defensive and offensive game. His runs forward furthered Portugal’s attack and gave Uruguay headaches

Pele: 7 : Genoa’s new signing met all expectations. Pele is naturally a very gifted player, and it was shown tonight. He constantly got himself out of sticky situations using his skill. Along with Danilo Pereira, He anchored Portugal’s team and supplied the link between the defense and midfield.

Danilo Pereira: 7 : Much the same with Pele, Danilo fulfilled his role well, holding the midfield down with style. The only downside to his performance was his lack of attacking.

Sana: 6.5 : Virtually Portugal’s only creative midfielder, Sana was constantly on breakaways and feeding the forwards passes, only for them to make a mess of them. It must have been a frustrating night for him.

Sergio Oliveira: 6.5 : Apart from hitting the post in the second half, Porto’s midfielder didn’t do much. He hit many speculative shots, but could have helped Sana more in the midfield.

Nelson Oliveira: 6 : Overall, Nelson Oliveira did not play well. He did not play badly, but he just had a bad game. Missed an open opportunity when Sana put him through on goal in the second half,  but he missed his shot.

Rafael Lopes: 5 : A very dissappointing performance from the forward, who just couldn’t find his feet. The only thing he did was make Uruguay’s players angry. He was nowhere to be seen for large chunks of time in the game.

Substitutues:

Alex: 6.5 : The Santa Clara man came on for the ineffectual Rafael Lopes, and did better than his predecessor. He made some good passes and generally looked good on the ball. Would be a good replacement for Rafael Lopes in the coming games.

Julio Alves: 6 : Overall a very mediocre performance from Atletico Madrid’s new signing. Mind you, he did only have a handful of minutes at the end.

Tiago Ferreira: N/A : Not enough time on the field to give a rating.