Marcos Lopes Steals the Show


Marcos Lopes - Portugal U19

Portugal 3-0 Israel

2014 UEFA U-19 European Championship

Group A

Marcos Lopes was predictably the man-of-the-match today as Portugal defeated Israel 3-0 in their opening match of the 2014 U-19 European Championship. A goal from Andre Silva was sandwiched in between two Marcos Lopes goals, as Portugal’s attacking prowess greatly outweighed Israel’s much heralded defensive solidarity. But Portugal wasn’t a one-man team, as may be assumed with this title. The Portuguese looked a cohesive unit, with a clear focal point in attack and an effective gameplan.

The Portuguese entered this game and this tournament as clear favorites, with the other teams in Group A (Austria and Hungary) not expected to pose very much of a threat. Israel only conceded three goals in all of qualifying (6 games), which led many to believe that the Israeli’s defense would be very difficult to break down. And that assertion proved to be true, but possibly not to the extent that many predicted. When looking at each team’s tendencies going into this game (Portugal strong in attack, Israel in defense), one may have assumed that this would be a stop-start game, or at the very least would lack fluidity. That also did not prove to be true. The match was fluid, full of attacking intent, and though Portugal pressed more expertly at times, the teams looked largely even. Israel just lacked a cutting edge, something that Portugal exploited.

The match started in fluid fashion, with Portugal making use (as always) of their pacy, technically-gifted wingers. Gelson Martins started on the left with Ivo Rodrigues on the right. Both are well-known talents, but it was Gelson Martins who had the more impressive game, constantly running at the Israeli defense and giving Israel’s left-back a torrid time. The first chance of note came midway through the half. Marcos Lopes did well to draw a foul on the edge of the box. He then struck the ensuing free kick into the crossbar. It was beautifully hit, and he will feel a bit unlucky that his shot didn’t hit the back of the net. Portugal continued to press, and despite controlling the match, Israel did not look out of the contest. But it was Portugal who struck next through their talisman. A simple passing move from the team led to Marcos Lopes being open just outside the box. After receiving a pass from the captain, Tomas Podstawski, Lopes turned and shot. His effort deflected fortunately off of an Israeli player and crept past the Israeli goalkeeper. With the score 1-0, Portugal went into the half surely feeling better about the proceedings.

Israel, surely feeling that they were unlucky to be down 1-0, came out in the second half with much more attacking intent. As a result, the Portuguese played a more conservative style in the minutes following the half. But despite their best efforts, Israel’s attacking play was well thwarted by Portugal’s defensive efforts. And it was Portugal who struck again just after the hour mark. Marcos Lopes sprayed the ball out wide to Mauro Riquicho (Portugal’s right-back). Riquicho aimed a cross to the far post, which was headed back into the path of Gelson Martins. Martins’ shot was parried by the Israeli goalkeeper directly into the path of Andre Silva, who tapped the ball into the net. With the score 2-0 in favor of Portugal, the team continued to press, and although Israel came close a few times, it was largely one-way traffic in favor of Portugal. And about a quarter of an hour after their second goal, Portugal extended their lead even further through their star man, Marcos Lopes. Portugal won a corner kick, which was cleared by Israel only as far as Joao Nunes, who sent in a cross. The cross was also dealt with by the Israelis, but their clearance was acrobatically saved by Nuno Santos. His pass was found by Marcos Lopes, who took a touch around an opposition player and then proceeded to strike a wonderful left-footed volley, which left the Israeli goalkeeper rooted to the spot. With Portugal up 3-0, the Portuguese did not look very keen on trying to extend their lead any further, and the match flow was largely lost. That goal was the last event of note in the match, and the game ended with a score of 3-0 in favor of Portugal.

Portugal will now face hosts Hungary in three days time. Hungary lost their match today against Austria by a score of 3-1. Should Portugal defeat Hungary, which at this point looks very likely, the team will advance to the semi-finals and will guarantee a spot in next summer’s U-20 World Cup.

Andre Moreira, Joao Nunes, Domingos Duarte, Rafa(Rebocho), Mauro Riquicho, Raphael Guzzo(Francisco Ramos), Tomas Podstawski, Marcos Lopes, Gelson Martins(Nuno Santos), Ivo Rodrigues, Andre Silva

GOAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE

2014 U-19 European Championship Preview: Portugal


Portugal U19 vs Lithuania - 2013The UEFA U-19 European Championships have long been a showcase for some of the brightest young talent in Europe, and this year looks to be no different. Players such as Daniel Sturridge and Mesut Ozil have shone in the tournament in the past, and more recently, players such as Paul Pogba have found success. And while each team is playing to win, there is an added benefit.  The top three teams from each group earn passage into the following summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. It was how the Portuguese qualified for the past two U-20 World Cups (in 2011 and 2013), and there is the hope that they can emulate that success again.

The Portuguese Under-19 Team will begin their European Championship campaign tomorrow, as they face Israel in their first match. This Portuguese team is much heralded, and is widely considered as one of the favorites coming into the tournament. And for good reason. The team has three of possibly the brightest Portuguese Under-19 prospects in the country in Andre Silva, Tomas Postawski, and Marcos Lopes. Silva is the spearhead of the team’s attacks, scoring 6 in qualification. Currently on the books at Porto, Silva split his time between Porto’s B team and the U19 team. Despite this, the striker managed 15 goals in 20 appearances for the U19 team and scored three for the B team. All at 18 years old. Another Porto prospect, Podstawski, who also holds Polish citizenship, appeared 24 times for Porto’s B team last season, following a stellar season with Porto’s U19 team. And finally, we come to Marcos Lopes. Widely believed to be “the next big thing” in Portugal, Rony Lopes, as he is called, has gained notoriety as a result of his performances at Manchester City. After impressive performances for first the club’s development squad and then the reserve squad, Lopes made his debut in City’s first team during the 2012-2013 season. Brought on late into an FA Cup tie against Watford, Lopes scored a tap-in from close range following a save from the opposition goalkeeper. This goal, scored just after Lopes’ 17th birthday, made him the Manchester City first team’s youngest ever goal scorer in a competitive match. But he hasn’t stopped there. More impressive performances in cup ties this season at Manchester City have earned him a season-long loan move to French side Lille OSC.

This Portuguese Under-19 side will face stiff competition in their quest for victory. On paper, one may dismiss the opposition joining Portugal in Group A, but upon further inspection, Portugal may face some challenges. Alongside Portugal in Group A are Israel, Austria, and Hungary. The threat that both Austria and Israel face is the strength in defense. In the six games Israel  and Austria each played in qualifying, each only conceded three goals. In the same amount of games, Portugal conceded six, against teams like Wales and Norway. Clearly, Portugal’s strength is in attack and not in defense. But one can hope that with players of the caliber of Podstawski, Lopes, and Silva, Portugal’s attacking prowess will greatly outweigh the defensive expertise of their opponents in Group A.

This competition is also known for being largely unpredictable. For instance, last year’s edition saw Serbia crowned as champions. Not many predicted a victory from a nation such as Serbia over teams like Spain, France, and the Netherlands. So, while Portugal is considered favorites to win the tournament, and some would argue have the tools at their disposal for victory, it’s all up in the air.

U-21s Thump Israel


Portugal vs Israel U21 - Ricardo Esgaio

Portugal 3-0 Israel

2015 UEFA U-21 Euro Qualification

The Portuguese Under-21 team continued their perfect start to 2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship qualification with a resounding 3-0 victory at home to Israel. Goals from William Carvalho, Bruma, and an Israeli own goal were enough to give Portugal the 3-0 victory. The team dominated the majority of the match, and the scoreline duly reflects Portugal’s dominance. Bruma and Tiago Ilori both debuted for the team, and their debuts were impressive ones, with Ilori playing the entire match in the heart of the team’s defense, while Bruma managed to get on the score sheet. Also debuting for the team was To-Ze, who appeared for the final quarter of an hour.

Jose Sa, Tiago Ilori, Paulo Oliveira, Luis Martins, Ricardo Esgaio, William, Rafa, Joao Mario(Tiago Silva), Sergio Oliveira(To-Ze), Bruma(Ricardo), Ivan Cavaleiro

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Portugal Struggle to Draw


Portugal vs Israel - Josue, Nelson Oliveira, Ronaldo

Portugal 1-1 Israel

2014 World Cup Qualification

It was not a game to remember last Friday for the Portuguese National Team, as they could only muster a 1-1 draw at home against Israel. A first-half header from Ricardo Costa gave Portugal the lead. Though the majority of the match flow was in favor of Portugal, an unfortunate error by Rui Patricio allowed the visitors to equalize late in the second half. This was an unfortunate draw for the team; one that was not fully justified.

With Raul Meireles and Bruno Alves out injured, and Fabio Coentrao and Helder Postiga suspended, the Portuguese line-up was an unusual one. Patricio started in goal, while Antunes subbed in for the suspended Coentrao on the left of defense. On the right side of the defense was Andre Almeida, who surprisingly earned a start ahead of Cedric Soares, who had been tipped to start all during the week prior. In the center of defense was Ricardo Costa and Pepe. The Portuguese midfield was left largely unchanged, with Miguel Veloso and Joao Moutinho getting the start, while Ruben Micael took the place of the injured Meireles. The wings were also unchanged, with Ronaldo on the left and Nani on the right. Hugo Almeida started up top in place of the suspended Helder Postiga.

The game started well, with the Portuguese finding their flow very quickly. It took less than half an hour for the hosts to make the breakthrough. A searching ball from Antunes found Pepe at the back-post. The center defender side-footed the ball across the face of the goal, directly into the path of Ricardo Costa, whose head met the ball. The scores were open at 1-0, and Portugal did not look like going back. Interestingly enough, it was Ricardo Costa’s first goal for the Seleccao, even at the age of 32. The second half was more of the same: Portugal dominating, and Israel snatching at infrequent chances. Portugal continued to search for another goal to double their lead, and came close numerous times, but lady luck was not smiling kindly upon Portugal. Late in the match, just minutes before the end, an botched Rui Patricio clearance fell to the feet of an Israeli player, whose finish could not have been easier. With the scores now tied at 1-1, Portugal attacked menacingly, but could not muster up another goal. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, a disappointment for Portugal. One positive can be taken from this match, however. Porto midfielder Josue made his debut for the Seleccao and looked very lively after he was subbed on in the second-half. Andre Almeida also debuted for the team, and also looked very solid in defense.

Rui Patricio, Ricardo Costa, Pepe, Antunes, Andre Almeida, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso(Eder), Ruben Micael(Josue), Ronaldo, Nani, Hugo Almeida(Nelson Oliveira)

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Cedric and Almeida Earn Calls


Andre Almeida - BenficaCedric - Sporting

Cedric Soares and Andre Almeida have both earned call-ups to the Portuguese National team for the upcoming World Cup qualification matches against Israel and Luxembourg. With Joao Pereira, Miguel Lopes, and Silvio all out injured, Bento has called on Cedric and Almeida to serve at right-back for the team. Cedric has enjoyed a wonderful season for Sporting this season, most notably scoring the winning goal against Braga last weekend. Andre Almeida, on the other hand, has not enjoyed the same amount of abundant playing time that Cedric has. Used primarily in Champions League, Almeida has shown his worth in the team, capable of playing almost anywhere in defense and midfield. Bento also took the opportunity to recall Josue and Anthony Lopes, who were included in the last squad. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Sevilla), Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Cedric (Sporting), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Neto (Zenit), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Antunes (Malaga), André Almeida (Benfica)

Midfielders: André Martins (Sporting), Josué (Porto), João Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Rúben Micael (Braga)

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Hélder Postiga (Valencia), Nani (Manchester United), Nélson Oliveira (Rennes), Varela (Porto), Éder (Braga)

Squad Prediction – 10/1/13


Paulo BentoWith Paulo Bento slated to announce a 23-man squad this Friday for the Portugal National team’s upcoming games against Luxembourg and Israel, Portugal Football are going to take a guess as to who he will call. These two games are the last two World Cup qualifiers for Portugal, as the team looks to capitalize on a run of good form. Both teams are beatable, and as both games are to be played at home, there will be few excuses if Portugal fail to come up with the points. Because of this and of past actions, Bento will likely call a squad with very few surprises. Here’s what we think:

Goalkeepers

Definites: Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Possibilities: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Anthony Lopes (Lyon)

Outsider: Mario Felgueiras (Cluj)

Defenders

Definites: Pepe (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit)

Possibilities: Antunes (Malaga), Cedric (Sporting), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Nuno Andre Coelho (Braga)

Outsiders: Sereno (Kayserispor), Andre Almeida (Benfica)

Midfielders

Definites: Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev)

Possibilities: Andre Martins (Sporting), Adrien Silva (Sporting), William Carvalho (Sporting), Ruben Micael (Braga), Josue (Porto), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), Danny (Zenit)

Outsiders: Paulo Machado (Olympiakos), Custodio (Braga), Manuel Fernandes (Besiktas)

Forwards

Definites: Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Helder Postiga (Valencia)

Possibilities: Nani (Manchester United), Lica (Porto), Varela (Porto), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Eder (Braga), Nelson Oliveira (Rennes)

Outsiders: Amido Balde (Celtic), Wilson Eduardo (Sporting), Pizzi (Espanyol)

 

Predicted Squad

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Defenders: Pepe (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit), Antunes (Malaga), Cedric (Sporting)

Midfielders: Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Andre Martins (Sporting), Adrien Silva (Sporting), Josue (Porto), William Carvalho (Sporting)

Forwards: Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Helder Postiga (Valencia), Nelson Oliveira (Rennes), Lica (Porto), Nani (Manchester United), Varela (Porto)

2014 World Cup Qualification Groups Drawn


FIFA announced earlier this week the qualification groups for the 2014 World Cup, slated to be held in Brazil. Portugal drew a seemingly easy group with Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Luxembourg. This group seems easier than the ones in the immediate past, but, as we have learned, Portugal has a knack of making a mess of things. Hopefully, under Paulo Bento, those days are over. Russia will be the most likely to give the team a run for their money, and Israel has an outside chance of doing just the same.

2014 World Cup Qualification Groups Drawn


The qualification draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was today, and Portugal have been drawn in a slightly difficult group. Portugal were drawn in Group 6 alongside Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Luxembourg. This group may not seem very hard, but Russia may give us a run for our money.

Russia’s squad performed well at Euro 2008, but since has not lived up to those performances, failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup. Russia will look to Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin and Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko for any attacking flair, while their leading midfielder, Konstantin Zyryanov, is getting on in years, currently at 33. Israel will be a little less tricky, with their main attacking threat coming through Benayoun, Ben Sahar, and Eran Zahavi. Portugal has only played Israel once before, with that game ending in a 2-1 win for the Seleccao. Northern Ireland have caused some upsets in various qualification campaigns in the past, so Portugal may need to look out for that, while Azerbaijan and Luxembourg pose little to no threat at all.