Fernando Santos Ushers in a New Era


Fernando SantosNewly-appointed Portuguese National Team head coach Fernando Santos announced today the squad to face France and Denmark on the 11th and 14th, respectively. And it is quite a breath of fresh air. Formerly exiled/ignored players such as Jose Fonte, Adrien Silva, Danny, Quaresma, and Ricardo Carvalho under Bento have been given a call by Santos. That, combined with new players such as Cedric, Joao Mario, and Ivo Pinto, gives Fernando Santos’s Portugal a fresh feel.Bento’s so-called “old guard” appear to be on the way out. Players like Raul Meireles, Ricardo Costa, Joao Pereira, Helder Postiga, and Hugo Almeida were omitted from the squad, making way for younger, newer players. Continue reading

Portuguese Liga Week in Review: Round 3


Photo: FC Porto

Photo: FC Porto

Week in Review – Liga Highs and Lows

With the closing of the transfer window it was a frantic news week for all the Big clubs in Portugal, which made for a lot of interesting reading. So here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the Liga:

FC Porto got an important win over Moreirense to start the week, which kept them on pace with Rio Ave who continues to crush their opponents, Victoria Guimaraes also kept up their impressive start, here is a look at the Liga Standings after week 3.

SC Braga won their match with Estoril which keeps them within striking distance of the top teams (Eder had an amazing goal), but both Benfica and Sporting dropped points in the match of the week, an exciting derby that had its share of High’s and Lows.

 

Champions League Draw

Always exciting to get the groups sorted out and to eye up the Euro club competition, with the Primeira Liga moving ahead of Serie A into 4th place in the Euro Country Co-efficients the Liga brand is at an all-time high.

Benfica the Liga Champs were in pot 1 so got pooled with Zenit, Leverkusen, and Monaco in Group C this is courtesy of their #5 ranking in Europe. Benfica / Zenit started out as slight favourites but the odds will increase with Monaco losing Falcao on loan, and Zenit losing Hulk to injury. The group though still looks very challenging and should make for some exciting games, we are hoping Jesus irons out his wrinkles and we take this group in style, although there might be a question where the goals will come from.

Sporting (#33) the Liga runners-up got pooled with (highly favoured) Chelsea, Schalke, and Maribor from Slovenia in Group G and they are favoured to go through over Schalke. We like Sporting’s chances if they can sort out their defence. We hope their return to the CL is a successful one.

Porto (#11) was pooled with Bilbao, Shakhtar, and Borisov in Group H probably the easiest group of the Big 3 and are favoured to go through. Although ESPN thinks Athletic Bilbao will top the group (because of their victory over Napoli) but I don’t think beating a team from the nose diving Serie A is something to get excited over. Lopetegui and PDC have assembled a very talented squad with lots of depth and it should see them easily into the next round bar injuries.

 

Transfer Headlines

Porto

With Porto losing Mangala and Fernando in the transfer window some could be concerned but PDC did well, and if anything strengthened his squad in a major way. This trend continued at the deadline with a double swoop where he signed Otavio a highly sought after Attacking Mid, and loaned Spanish midfielder Jose Campana.  To cap off the successful transfer window for Porto. They also managed to keep danger man Jackson Martinez, who was on every BIG clubs radar. The only sad news was that Varela was sent packing after a contract row, but to be fair it is probably better for him as with all the talent assembled he was going to see a lot of the bench.

Sporting

Sporting was in the headlines a lot with More Rojo Problems  thankfully the self-obsessed hype train has left the station, not sure what all the interest is in a very average defender who has played on an excellent Sporting team, and Argentina National squad, but BdC did well to get Nani in the deal (with the majority of his salary paid).

Also making the headlines was the chase for the most sought after Defensive Midfielder in Europe. The Elegant Powerhouse known as Carvalho was chased until the dying seconds with both Arsenal and Manchester United in the running. Fortunately for the fans he chose to stay, even after the sneaky Wenger offered Campbell in exchange.

Ryan Gauld the Scottish Messi also talked highly of Sporting and why he chose to come to the historic club to round out his game. More and more talented youth players are realizing that the best place to go is the Primeira Liga, as they will not only get to play in Europe but the pedigree of players turned out by the Big 3 is unheard of. Sporting being the King of Portuguese talent is renowned for their Academy.

Benfica                                              

Definitely a roller coaster ride at the deadline for the Eagles with Hernandez from Palermo (there is a Portuguese joke in there with that team name) turning down a bid to go to the Luz. Clearly he might be Abel but he definitely isn’t that bright, as a move would’ve guaranteed him some big Euro games.

To add to the misery Arsene Wenger as true to his first name was being an arse (British slang), after suggesting he needed a striker first before selling or loaning World Cup star Joel Campbell to SLB. After getting Wellbeck he then offered Campbell up in a backroom deal to Sporting for Carvalho, then at the last second balked on the SLB purchase price and didn’t even loan the player much to the anger of both Campbell & his Agent who were furious.

Fortunately for Benfica it all ended well they managed to keep two highly sought after players in Enzo Perez and Nico Gaitan as their buy-out clauses were not met and also picked up a gem from AC Milan in Bryan Cristante. The Italian Wonder Kid came in cheap at 6 million euros much to the dismay of Milan fans who took to twitter in horror, and many Italian Reporters who chided Milan Management for the blunder. To top it off Cristante even forced the transfer and requested Benfica to add more salt to the wounds. Again the appreciation for the Big 3 and the job they have done developing BIG League talent is what has all these players knocking the door down to get to the Liga.

So all in all a very productive week for the Liga let me finish with the Highs and Lows of the week:

Highs

 

  • Porto Win
  • Rio Ave Crush
  • Good Champions League draws for Sporting & Porto
  • Jackson, Slimani, Carvalho, Enzo, and Gaitan Stay
  • Cristante dumps AC Milan for Benfica

 

Lows

 

  • Benfica & Sporting drop points in Liga Race
  • Varela goes to West Brom
  • Hernandez turns down SLB
  • Benfica misses out on Cardozo replacement – Campbell via Wenger
  • Rojo still in the Headlines

Once again another interesting week in the Headlines for Portuguese Football, follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news regularly.

Coentrao to be Involved in Bale Swap Deal


Fabio Coentrao – Real Madrid to Tottenham?

News has come out recently that Real Madrid have made Tottenham winger Gareth Bale their number one target for this upcoming transfer window. Bale has shown his credentials as one of the finest young wingers in the game at the moment, and Real hope to add him to their squad. In order to make the deal more attainable, according to reports, Real Madrid are prepared to include Fabio Coentrao in the deal. So, Coentrao would move to Tottenham, while Bale would move the opposite direction to Real Madrid. Coentrao would likely not find holding down a starting position very hard. Regardless of whether this move goes through, it is looking more likely every day that Fabio Coentrao will not be a Real Madrid player next season.

Portugal Drawn in Group of Death


Euro 2012

Group B

Portugal-Netherlands-Germany-Denmark

With the qualification stage completed for Euro 2012, it was time to see how the teams in the tournament itself would be divided. The group stage draw happened on Friday, and Portugal were drawn in one of the hardest European Championship groups they have ever been in. Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark all join the Seleccao in Group B. You heard me. Germany AND the Netherlands. The average world ranking for our group? 6. The Netherlands and Germany currently sit at 2nd and 3rd, respectively, while Denmark is not too far behind at 11. Now, if we were to take a look at Group A, we would see that their average world ranking is 32. Poland is not even in the top fifty, while Czech Republic isn’t in the upper thirty. Needless to say, these groups are not even, but regardless, Portugal have a difficult group on their hands. The team undoubtedly has the talent to vanquish Denmark, and possibly the Netherlands, but Germany will be a different story.

 

Portugal Slump to Defeat in Denmark


Denmark 2-1 Portugal

The Portuguese National Team put in a sub-par performance and were punished as Denmark ran out easy 2-1 winners. Portugal’s loss placed Portugal at second in the group, with Denmark winning the group and thus qualifying for Euro 2012. Throughout the match, Denmark controlled the tempo, constantly forcing the Portuguese team into making mistakes, mistakes that they would pay for. This game was tough to swallow for me. Despite the 3-1 scoreline from the last time the two teams met, this was always going to be a tough game for the Portuguese. The Danish team plays all of their matches in the Parken Staduim, in Copenhagen. Teams typically have a hard time earning points in this stadium, for some reason. It is a bit like Stoke City, who has a reputation for their imperious home form. The Danish coach, Morten Olsen, stated before the match that Denmark had a plan for dealing with Portugal. Oh how he was right.

The game started off in Denmark’s favor, with the Danes having a goal disallowed after it was adjudged offside. That should have been a wake-up call for Portugal, but unfortunately, it really wasn’t. Denmark then proceeded to take the lead after a Michael Krohn-Dehli shot took a slight deflection off the face of Rolando. Denmark were ahead, and so far, they deserved it. Soon after, however, Rolando had a golden opportunity to redeem himself and open his account for Portugal. Carlos Martins swung a free kick in from the left, which fell to an unmarked Rolando, whose side-footed shot scooted wide. Portugal began to find their feet in the match after Rolando’s miss, most notably shown through Carlos Martins and Ronaldo’s shots, which were easily held by the keeper. A quickly taken free kick was passed to Joao Moutinho, whose pass to the middle for an open Helder Postiga was snuffed out by a Danish defender. After the half, Denmark pounced slightly out of the blue. Some lax defending from Eliseu and Rolando allowed a perfect split ball to be played, which was then squared expertly for Bendtner to finish to give Denmark a 2-0 lead. The Danish continued to go close and Portugal continued to disappoint. Finally, in extra time at the end of the game, Portugal were rewarded for what they didn’t deserve. Ronaldo hit a marvellous free-kick to give Portugal a consolation goal and to make the final score 2-1 Denmark.

Portugal will now play in the play-offs, which will occur in November and will be a two-legged match system.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Eliseu(Quaresma), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Carlos Martins(Miguel Veloso), Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Nani, Ronaldo, Helder Postiga(Nuno Gomes)

With this game, Ronaldo has moved into the top five in the list of all-time appearances. Also, with his goal, he has moved to fourth in the all-time goals list.

Man of the Match: Nani

Crutch of the Match: Rolando/Carlos Martins

Pedro Mendes Included in Champions League Squad


Youngster Pedro Mendes has been included by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho in the team’s champions league roster. His inclusion comes as a surprise as he is currently playing for Real Madrid Castilla (the club’s B team) on loan from Sporting Lisbon. The defender featured for the team in preseason, but, to no one’s surprise, has failed to feature since. He is competing for a spot in the team against the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Raul Albiol, and Raphael Varane, among others. His inclusion shows the faith that Mourinho has in him, faith that the coach made quite clear when the loan was secured.

Portuguese in Europa League


There were many Portuguese players involved last week in the opening Group stage games of this season’s Europa League. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Helder Barbosa, and Vieirinha were the ones who caught the headlines, so here is the entire coverage of every Portuguese player in the Europa League.

Group A

PAOK’s 0-0 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur put the two teams tied for second place. Vieirinha played a full 90 minutes and was one of the game’s brightest players, according to Goal.com. The winger has been in fine form for the Greek team over the past couple of years, and many have called for a Senior Team debut. It hasn’t happened yet, but it surely will in the future.

Group B

Many were surprised when Hannover 96 drew Standard Liege at home 0-0. With the German team one of the favorites to win the group, the 0-0 draw came as quite a surprise. Sergio Pinto started and played for 75 minutes, while Carlitos is still out injured.

Group C

Rapid Bucharesti took away a narrow win from Israel after they defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 to secure top spot in the group. Rui Duarte played the entire match, and Filipe Teixeira came on in the dying minutes.

Group D

Hugo Luz was nowhere to be seen for Valusi in their 2-2 draw with Italian giants Lazio.

There were, however, five Portuguese players involved in the Sporting Lisbon-Zurich encounter. Sporting ended the game winners after scoring two unanswered goals in the first half. Jorge Teixeira played the full 90 minutes for Zurich. For Sporting, Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, and (surprisingly) Bruno Pereirinha played the entire game. Andre Santos was substituted in on the hour mark.

Group E

The Portuguese contingent was strong for Besiktas as they recorded a thumping 5-1 victory over Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Simao, and Quaresma all started for the Turkish team. Hugo Almeida picked up a brace, Quaresma an assist, and Manuel Fernandes two assists. Bebe looks set to miss at least the first half of the season with an injury, and Julio Alves was nowhere to be seen.

Group G

Yago Fernandez was an unused substitute in Malmo’s 4-1 away loss to AZ.

Group H

Four Portuguese players were involved in Braga’s 3-1 win over Championship side Birmingham. Quim, Hugo Viana, Nuno Gomes, and Helder Barbosa all started for the Portuguese team. Quim and Hugo Viana played the entire game with Nuno Gomes and Helder Barbosa being substituted out in the 73rd and 89th minute, respectively. Helder Barbosa continued his fine form with a brace, and was certainly Braga’s finest players on the night.

Group I

Tiago played the last six minutes for Atletico Madrid as they defeated Celtic 2-0. Pizzi was an unused substitute, while Silvio was nowhere to be seen.

Group J

Geraldo Alves, brother of Julio and Bruno Alves, played a full 90 minutes for Steaua Bucharesti as they drew Schalke 0-0.

Group K

Orlando Sa was an unused substitute for Fulham in their 1-1 draw with Dutch giants Twente. Orlando Sa has also been handed the heralded “number 9” jersey at Fulham.

Group L

Following their 3-2 win over Zenit, Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Sturm Graz 2-1 away from home. Manuel da Costa was nowhere to be seen for the Russian side.