July 10, 2016 is a date scorched into the memory of anyone who has ever admired Portugal and its football. As Eder ran toward the bench with his fists clenched, the worldwide Portuguese community went into uproar. This week is the anniversary of that hallowed night in Paris. Also, this week is exactly one year out until the World Cup semi-finals in Russia. While the hearts of many Seleção fans are hoping to be gathering together in a year’s time for another penultimate match, our minds know there is still plenty of work to be done. With a massive contest against Switzerland looming, nothing is certain. Still, it is hard to picture this talented side at home next summer and not competing for the world title. With Fernando Santos to most certainly still be at the helm, let us look at how we might line up in Russia. While there are still many kinks for Santos to work out in the next 11 months, I still expect him to employ a 4-1-3-2 type of formation. Continue reading
It took a very late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo to do it, but, Fernando Santos’ new-look Portuguese National Team picked up their first victory and first three points of Euro 2016 qualifying in Copenhagen on Tuesday, defeating Denmark 1-0. Continue reading
The Portuguese National team face a difficult away trip to Denmark tomorrow, as they look to turn their Euro 2016 qualification campaign around. The team lost to Albania in their first qualification match, which led to Paulo Bento’s departure as coach of the team. With Fernando Santos now in charge, the team looks revitalized, as was shown in their 2-1 loss to France two days ago. That France game was a good test for tomorrow’s match in Denmark, as both are very difficult teams to play away from home. Continue reading
France 2-1 Portugal
The Fernando Santos era of the Portuguese National Team kicked off with a 2-1 friendly loss on Saturday, as goals by Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba were enough to ward off a Ricardo Quaresma penalty strike at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Continue reading
Malaga to Benfica
Benfica have dove further into the transfer market with the signing of Malaga’s Eliseu. The left-back has been linked with the Portuguese club ever since 2012, when Benfica were reportedly very close to agreeing a deal. Now, Eliseu will be reunited with Jorge Jesus, who coached him at Belenenses in 2007, and looks likely to fight for the starting left-back spot with fellow new signing Loris Benito. The left-back has signed a two-season deal with an option of a third season depending on performances.
Eliseu has been at the heart of a very topsy-turvy Malaga side in recent years. A regular before the club was bought out by oil-rich Middle-eastern tycoons, Eliseu nevertheless retained his starting position when the club began to strengthen around him. In fact, he established himself as one of Malaga’s finest assets, most notably in the club’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League two seasons ago. Despite this, he has never truly won over Portugal National Team boss Paulo Bento, who has omitted Eliseu from the majority of squads despite his excellent performances at the highest level. Not known for his openness to change, it comes as little surprise that Bento is so averse to calling up Eliseu, but with the left-back at 30 years old and his best years behind him, the question goes begging: What if?
Having said all of that, Eliseu’s career is not over. Not by a long shot. Though he had a sub-par season last time out, Eliseu still has talent that while it may not be brought to the national team, can surely be utilized at Benfica. Jorge Jesus has a knack of getting the best out of players, so maybe we’ll all be surprised.
Paulo Bento named a 23 man squad today for the team’s upcoming game against Gabon, on November 14th. Two surprise inclusions were Paulo Machado, who has been impressive for Olympiakos both in the Greek Superleague and the Champions League, and Silvio, who has found playing time hard to come by at Atletico Madrid. Bento has overlooked Eliseu for the second time in a row, which has baffled many supporters of the team, as the winger is in arguably the form of his life at Malaga. Another surprise exclusion is that of Manuel Fernandes, who has established himself as one of the finest midfielders in Turkey. Nani was originally called, but has been replaced by Helder Barbosa, due to an injury. Here’s the full squad:
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Eduardo (Isanbul BB), Beto (Braga)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit), Pepe (Real Madrid), Neto (Siena), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Silvio (Atletico Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Nelson (Real Betis)
Midfielders: Custodio (Braga), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Paulo Machado (Olympiakos), Ruben Micael (Braga), Ruben Amorim (Braga)
Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Braga), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Zaragoza), Pizzi (Deportivo), Varela (Porto)
This weekend proved to be quite fruitful for the many Portuguese players plying their trade in their Iberian neighbor country. We’ll highlight how they fared this weekend. Player ratings courtesy of whoscored.com
Malaga 2-1 Valladolid
Malaga continued their impressive season with yet another win, this time over La Liga newcomers Real Valladolid. Central to the success of the team this season has surprisingly been Eliseu. Typically utilized as a left back, Eliseu has gained prominence through his solid performances for Malaga this season. Eliseu was in the starting lineup for Malaga, while Sereno (who is on loan from Porto) started in the center of defense for Valladolid. Valladolid has done well this season, and sits mid-table accordingly. Duda was on the bench for Malaga, and entered the fray midway through the second half. Eliseu is credited with the assist, his third of the season in all competitions, after he squared the ball to Isco for the team’s first goal.
Whoscored.com player ratings:
Real Madrid 2-0 Celta de Vigo
Real Madrid chalked up a much-needed victory over a stubborn Celta de Vigo side. Gonzalo Higuain scored a wonderful cross-shot first for the hosts before Ronaldo wrapped up proceedings with his second-half penalty. Pepe and Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes, while Ricardo Carvalho was an unused substitute. Fabio Coentrao was nowhere to be seen, most likely due to an injury picked up in Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Russia earlier this month.
Whoscored.com player ratings:
Valencia 3-2 Athletic Bilbao
Two late goals spared Valencia’s blushes, as the hosts ran out 3-2 winners against a determined Athletic side. Neither Joao Pereira nor Ricardo Costa, who are regular fixtures in the starting eleven, featured for Valencia. Both the defenders were unused substitutes.
Deportivo 4-5 Barcelona
In perhaps the game of the season, Barcelona narrowly escaped Deportivo. Pizzi scored twice for the hosts, once from the penalty spot, the other by means of a brilliant free-kick. Ze Castro played the entire match for Deportivo, while Bruno Gama was on the field for a little over an hour. Diogo Salomao was substituted on to make his first appearance of the season, while Nelson Oliveira also saw time off the substitutes bench. Roderick, Andre Santos, and Tiago Pinto were nowhere to be seen.
Whoscored.com player ratings:
Ze Castro: 5.6
Bruno Gama: 6.6
Diogo Salomao: 6.0
Nelson Oliveira: 6.1
Espanyol 3-2 Rayo Vallecano
Rui Fonte was an unused substituted for Espanyol, while Simao was nowhere to be seen.
Granada 1-2 Real Zaragoza
Helder Postiga started and scored as Real Zaragoza defeated Granada. This win lifts Zaragoza further away from the dreaded relegation zone.
Whoscored.com player ratings:
Helder Postiga: 7.6
Osasuna 0-0 Real Betis
Nelson started and played the whole match, as Salvador Agra was nowhere to be seen for the visitors.
Whoscored.com player ratings:
Real Sociedad 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Tiago was an unused substitute for Atletico, while Silvio was nowhere to be seen.
As with any transfer window, there are always an excess of transfer rumors, some of which are believable, some of which are off the wall. We’ll bring you both, and you can decide for yourself which is which.
Zenit to Juventus, Porto, or Atletico Madrid?
Portuguese international defender Bruno Alves is hinting that a move away from Russia may be in the near future. The defender, who featured heavily in the Portuguese squad at this summer’s European Championships, was snapped up by Zenit in 2010 for a fee of over 20 million pounds. This move came after widespread speculation linking him to the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. Since his move, he has established himself as an important player for the club. Now, Juventus, Porto, and Atletico Madrid are all said to be interested in the defender. As with Porto’s case, there has been talk of Zenit using Bruno Alves as a makeweight in a shock swoop for Hulk at Porto. Regardless, Atletico Madrid seem the most likely to win his signature, with Alves’ father stating that his son “would have no problem going to Atletico Madrid.”
Malaga to Benfica?
In the midst of financial turmoil, Malaga are looking to sell some of their most prized assets. Spanish international Santi Cazorla has already moved on to Arsenal, while Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon has made a seven million pound move to Russia. One player who has been important for the Spanish club over the past few seasons is Eliseu. A winger who was converted to left-back, Eliseu has impressed many with his performances for not only Malaga, but the Portuguese National team. It is no secret that Benfica are in the market for a left-back after the departure of Capdevila to Espanyol, and the underwhelming performances of Emerson. Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has even used Melgarejo, a Paraguayan forward, as a left-back, an indication that a true left-back is needed for the club. Benfica’s interest in Eliseu is not new, but there now may be more urgency behind the move. Benfica is not the only club interested in the winger, with six other unnamed clubs interested as well.
Besiktas to Atletico Madrid or Liverpool?
Dazzling winger Ricardo Quaresma looks to be on his way out of Turkish club Besiktas. After a wage dispute, it appears that Quaresma is being frozen out of the club, and is reportedly training with the club’s reserve team. The Portuguese international’s skill is undeniable. After an ill-fated move to Inter Milan earlier in his career, the winger’s glory days looked over. After his move to Besiktas, however, the winger gained back some of his confidence, and, once again, began to shine. Now, his days at Besiktas looked numbered. It is reported that Liverpool have reserved eight million pounds for his services, and Atletico Madrid will pounce should their deal with Crisitan Tello fall by the wayside.
Due to injuries, Silvio and Danny have withdrawn from the Portuguese training camp ahead of the team’s crunch play-off games against Bosnia. Silvio had been slightly injured while on duty for Atletico Madrid, and appears to not have recovered in time. Danny also has had similar problems, so he was also withdrawn. Called up as replacements for the attacking midfielder and the wing back are Vieirinha and Eliseu. This is Vieirinha’s first call for the Portuguese National team, and it is one that is thouroughly deserved. The winger/attacking midfielder has been a revelation in Greece over the past few seasons after leaving Porto. Many have called for his inclusion in the squad, so his inclusion is a welcome one. Eliseu’s inclusion is a welcome one too. The left winger-cum-left back has excelled in his new position, most notable during the team’s 5-3 win over Iceland, where he recorded one goal and two assists. Though neither of these players will most likely see playing time, they are assets for the team coming from the bench.
Portugal 5-3 Iceland
Portugal have raised the eyebrows of many with their slightly unconvincing 5-3 victory over Group H minnows Iceland. The game started off perfectly for Portugal when they took the lead through Nani. A corner was taken short to Eliseu (who was the starting left-back), who hit in a low cross, which Nani deftly got his head to and redirected the ball past the Icelandic keeper. Nani then doubled his tally and Portugal’s lead when he pounced on a very poor clearance from an Icelandic defender and tapped the ball past the onrushing keeper. Portugal appeared to be cruising by this point. The team was hassling their opponents and causing them to make mistakes. Portugal looked to run away with the game. That theory was strengthened when Helder Postiga added Portugal’s third of the night after he connected with a pinpoint Bruno Alves cross. That is how the half ended: 3-0. Portugal’s complete domination was no surprise, and many were looking forwad to more goals in the second half. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they got.
The second half started off very well when Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. Many interpreted this as a sign of what was to come. Iceland pulled a goal back soon after the restart, when Jonassen headed past Rui Patricio. The goal was largely a product of Rolando’s poor defensive work, which was also the problem when Iceland socred again. A corner was whipped in for Iceland, and Jonassen was there again, this time at the near post, to poke the ball into the net. With a 3-2 scoreline a bit too worrying, Portugal put their gear into hyper-drive. Eliseu raced down the left flank excellently and cut the ball back for Joao Moutinho, whose one touch shot hit the back of the net. That goal was only Moutinho’s second goal for the Seleccao, despite being an undisputed starter in the team for some time. Portugal didn’t stop there, however. Eliseu opened his account for Portugal and made the scoreline 5-2 when he scored the goal of the match. Eliseu, a naturally left-footed player, curled his right-footed shot on the edge of the box past the Icelandic keeper to give Portugal some breathing room. But the scoring was not over. Rolando added to his disappointing display when he fouled Bjarnason in the box. Sigurdsson converted the penalty with ease to make the final score 5-3. Portugal will now face Denmark on Tuesday in their final Euro 2012 qualification match.
Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Eliseu, Joao Moutinho, Carlos Martins(Ruben Micael), Raul Meireles(Miguel Veloso), Nani, Ronaldo, Helder Postiga(Nuno Gomes)
Man of the Match: Eliseu
Crutch of the Match: Rolando