17 year-old Benfica prospect Goncalo Guedes is attracting strong interest from abroad, with the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, PSG, and AC Milan all said to be following the youngster. Guedes plays mainly as a striker, which is a position that the Portuguese National Team has not had filled adequately since Pauleta retired in 2006. Much is expected of young Guedes, so much so that he is seen as a possible replacement for Franck Ribery at Bayern. Those are some big shoes to fill, which begs the question: who is Goncalo Guedes? Continue reading
With the International break upon us the Primeira Liga was on hiatus this week, with the players joining their national squads for some important fixtures. Here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the World of Portuguese Football. Continue reading
With another Liga week wrapped up and the opening round of the Champions League being contested by 3 Portuguese teams, there was a lot of interesting stories to read. So here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in Portuguese Football: Continue reading
Lisbon on Tuesday plays host to an enticing first round match between Euro giants SL Benfica and FC Zenit St. Petersburg in Group C Champions League action. PortugalFutbol.net has combined forces with our Russian counterparts at RussianFootballNews.com to provide you with a comprehensive preview of this clash of titans. Continue reading
Benfica and Sporting came into the Lisbon Derby on Sunday with something to prove and it was a must win for both sides to quiet the skeptic supporters at both ends of the pitch. The conclusion in the first round of the Lisbon Derby was an entertaining 1-1 draw. Unfortunately for both teams this log jam on the field has dropped them behind pre-season favourites FC Porto in the race for the Liga crown.
Sporting CP is already 4 points adrift of Porto in the standings only 3 matches in (W 1, L 0, D 2), so soon after their feisty play last year in the Liga saw them rewarded with a second place finish in the standings. Although it is way too early to panic as a Sporting fan, the Lions are still working through the mess that Godinho Lopes caused at the club a couple of years ago, and this off-season the club was meant to strengthen their core without too many player losses. With their core players still intact (losing Rojo, Dier, & Elias in the off-season), Sporting arrived at da Luz with Nani, a new Manager and expectations of grandeur.
Across the field Jorge Jesus has had a very difficult off-season after winning the Primeira League title last term, his roster has been decimated by player transfers losing Garay, Oblak, Cardozo, Markovic, Rodrigo, Gomes, Siqueira, and Cavaleiro (in order of importance) to other clubs looking to replicate Benfica’s success the last few seasons (#5 in Euro Club Standings). Jesus has been very vocal about his displeasure saying that although his name is Jesus he doesn’t create miracles, in response to the exodus of players. He has also been uncharacteristically vocal in his criticism of Luis Felipe Vieira’s player acquisitions, saying he doesn’t have enough talent to work with on numerous occasions to the content of the rabid jornalists in Portugal. The irony is that he has had his best start to the Liga whilst at Benfica this season (SLB came into the game with W 2 L 0).
This was the backdrop to this battle of the behemoths at the Stadium of Light, both Managers being scrutinized under the microscope of their passionate followers and journalistic scribes on a warm Sunday evening in front of 61,895 spectators.
Defense: Esgaio, Maurico, Sarr, Jefferson
Midfield: Carvalho, Martins, Silva
Forwards: Carrillo, Nani, Slimani
From Marco Silva’s perspective, it was a very standard 4-3-3 Sporting formation with strength and talent in the midfield, danger on the wings and a formidable striker to cash in some lively goals. The line-up was as expected with the main question marks at the back.
Defense: Eliseu, Jardel, Luisao, Maxi
Midfield: Almeida, Enzo
Forwards: Salvio, Gaitan, Talisca, Lima
Jesus’ line-up had some futebol pundits questioning if revisions were in order, as was rightfully discussed on the Benfica Podcast with Alfredo & Co. and in a subsequent article by Neil Fernandes that previewed this Derby match. There were questions about Talisca’s role, Lima’s play, and whether Gaitan should be used as an Attacking Mid to allow Ola John to patrol the left wing and add more bite to the attack.
As expected, Jesus rolled out his usual line-up with no surprises, Talisca was used as an Attacking Mid/Sub Striker, and Ola John never even made an appearance (Mental Note: Check to see if Ola has any relatives with Portuguese passports or is related to Nolito or Capedevila).
The expectations were for both teams to play a spirited game and they did. The match had intensity going back and forth in possession at the same time remaining relatively clean, as there were 6 yellow cards handed out on the night by Pedro Proenca.
Some of the questions going into the game were:
Who would be behind the Benfica bench?
JJ was thrown out of last week’s game with Boavista for getting into an argument with the referee at half time, in the end he only received a minor fine, and warning by the LPFP, so was able to manage on the night.
Would the real Nani show up?
Nani’s confidence has eroded the last couple of years, and coming back to Sporting was a major coup for Bruno de Carvalho, especially when he has Manchester United footing the majority of Nani’s wages, but the question is how quickly he can assimilate himself into the squad? With new team mates around and very little training time, many wondered aloud if he would have an impact in the derby match. On the night he had a decent game turning provider on a few dangerous plays, but lacked the shooting boots at times when he was presented with gifts in and around the box. So the jury is still out on Nani, but for Sporting’s sake and that of the Portuguese National Team we hope he gets back in gear sooner rather than later.
Could Benfica’s weakened midfield handle the hot mid core of Sporting?
Many including myself wondered with Fejsa & Amorim’s injuries whether rarely used Almeida would be able to help Enzo Perez cope with the triple threat in Sporting’s midfield core. Almeida is fairly feisty and it wasn’t a major concern of mine as I think he is better suited to that position, although in fairness lacks the big league experience in that role. The midfield battle was spirited all night and made for a great game with possession almost split down the middle, Sporting with 51% and SLB with 49%, so I think both SLB players fared well in the face of the opposition.
How would Sporting’s decimated back line hold-up against Benfica’s fierce attack?
Losing Dier and Rojo clearly makes the defence the weakest link in the Sporting chain, and they were carved up throughout the game. Benfica out-chanced Sporting 17 shots to 11, and for the most part were of the dangerous variety. On many occasions Lima blew past Esgaio to make some lethal passes across the face of goal and there were too many scoring opportunities inside the heart of the box. Fortunately for the back four Patricio was on fire and the Portuguese International Keeper made some world class saves, furthermore Benfica clearly will rue all the missed chances in the face of goal.
Who could replace the scoring of Lion killer Oscar Cardozo?
Oscar had 13 goals against Sporting in his time at Benfica and almost singlehandedly won derby matches for the Eagles at times. Unfortunately no one in the end did fill his shoes. Gaitan had a wonder goal but missed badly on at least two other occasions to wrestle control over the game. Lima is unfortunately better suited to playing in a sub striker role and was rarely in position to score inside the box. Salvio needed to tighten the laces on his dancing shoes as he missed some glorious chances (excuse the pun) in the goal mouth.
How would Slimani play after being suspended by SCP for trying to force a transfer?
Slimani excelled on the night, and was as good as in the recent World Cup with Algeria where he turned heads. He is a livewire at the front and gets himself into threatening positions. His pressure of Artur helped to create the error that led to his tying goal in the first half. Although some fans took exception on twitter to him kissing the emblem after he scored, because of his attempted hijack of the transfer process. BdC did well to hold onto his investment and Slimani will be an important cog in the Sporting attack this season.
Would Jesus start one of his crazy BIG Match Line-ups that have people scratching their heads?
For a big game match this was about as sensible as JJ gets, although a few fans did scratch their heads at how Derley was the only sub used, and with good reason. Talisca had received medical treatment twice during the game, and the shift of Gaitan to the 10 role and addition of a speed demon like Ola on the left to frustrate Esgaio, who was already on a yellow, might have been what the doctor ordered. Also Bebe could’ve been brought on to provide some goal scoring punch from the Sub Striker role considering he scored 11 goals last season with Pacos but it was all for not.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
JJ’s one sub
Ola not playing
Both teams dropped points on Porto in the race for the title
Minuscule fine JJ has to pay
I left Artur’s frango for last as it is definitely the big talking point of the match, and he was sarcastically voted Man of the Match on Abola.
I feel for the guy he is a good goalkeeper and makes some wonderful saves, as he did for the majority of the match, but like Jorge Jesus sometimes in Big Games he makes some colossal screw-ups that end up costing Benfica the win. Like Nani his confidence isn’t at its highest, but I am not sure Julio Cesar will do better (as was witnessed in the World Cup). Although this frango will surely have Artur rooted to the bench for the next match. Let’s see what Julio can do, it is his job for the taking at this point.
All in all this Derby was a great match between two title contenders that are still working through their kinks, and the one that can find consistency first will challenge Porto for the title this season. It has many fans including myself looking forward to the mouth-watering Liga games to come, add to that Rio Ave is crushing teams, Braga has improved, as well as Guimaraes turning in good performances and this looks to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory.
Stay tuned for more.
Benfica fan favourite Nicolas Gaitan has been in the transfer rumour news all summer with Monaco, Manchester United, and Liverpool all keen on picking up his services. I’ll take a look at why Benfica should transfer him.
This will not be a popular article with Benfiquistas in light of all the transfers Luis Felipe Vieira has made this summer, but with all the player purchases last season, and few sales. Tough decisions have to be made at the club, and the pipeline restocked with good younger talent.
It is imperative for Portuguese Liga teams to sell to maintain their club co-efficient standings and performances in Europe. Benfica currently rank 5th; quite an impressive feat when you look at it.
So stars like Gaitan will come and go that is the nature of the business. The more important part is selecting the players that should stay, pay them more and keep them a few seasons at BIG RED. Gaitan has had his few seasons, most of which have been losing ones with only one Liga win for Benfica, while he has featured in primetime. The more important part is that 3 out of those 4 seasons he has starred Benfica had the better team, and has one Liga crown to show for it.
So I hope you keep an open mind as I play Red Devils Advocate. Here are the main reasons I think Gaitan should be sold now:
- If they don’t transfer him, Enzo Perez will go – Enzo actually plays for his National team and is a workhorse both offensively and defensively on the pitch. He is not an easy replacement whereas Benfica have Ola John & Pizzi to replace Gaitan on the wing.
- He is a selfish player – Gaitan averages a lot of shots a game, with very few on target. He has averaged 3.3 goals a year in the Liga and doesn’t feed his strikers who have a higher goal rate (even when they are open in the 6 yard box). Time is also running out on his valuation, IF Benfica have a rough season we will never get the transfer fee which is currently being offered in excess of the £30m mark. He also looks for highlight reel plays (looking to get a bigger clubs attention) and accomplishes it every 4 games, but it hurts the team game in game out.
- Need to restock the pipeline with younger/better prospects – With the sales of Garay, Cardozo, and Oblak players who aren’t easily replaced and will require many buys to do so. The sale of Gaitan would generate enough money to purchase a new stable of young players that can fight for those important roles.
- He doesn’t know defence – Gaitan is a notoriously bad defender that believes in a one way effort. The same is not true for his countrymen Enzo and Salvio. Eduardo might not be the best defender but he chases relentlessly to the backline in the meantime scoring on average 4.25 goals the last 4 seasons which is higher than Gaitan’s average. With Jesus’ all out attacking team formations you need players to track back on the opposite wing to balance out the attack. The holes Gaitan leaves make us vulnerable at the back.
- Ola John is faster and a better crosser/passer – With his speed Ola John is a terror on the left, has a great shot that does hit the target, and tracks back well as a defender. Ola is only 22 and it is time he was given his full run out. Ola John also knows where his bread gets buttered and links up well with his Fullbacks and Strikers to over-run opposing defences and improves the score line. In 2012/3 when Gaitan was out with injury Ola combined with Luisinho and his strikers for a team average close to 4 goals a game. As soon as Gaitan came back in the line-up that average dropped to 2 goals per game for the team. Same goes for Pizzi who is 24 as with Ola, Pizzi has averaged 5.5 goals on some bad Spanish teams. Just imagine what he could do on a great Benfica team.
So as you can see there are many great reasons to transfer Nico Gaitan, and to cash in now while the valuation is good. Failure to do so will result in Benfica selling him on the cheap next season. So you have to pick your poison.
For Benfica to do well this season they need to keep Enzo Perez (give him a raise and sell him next year), and dispatch Gaitan to the outhouse.
Agree or Disagree?
So what is your opinion?
Would you like to see Gaitan sold?
If not what do you think LFV should do?
Keep the comments coming…
Written by Orlando Mac (@OrlandoMaxxx)
10 Portuguese Players Who Could Break Out This Season
Portugal is once again producing quality young footballers at a scale not seen since the ‘Golden Generation’ that emerged in the late 1990s.
But at no time has there been more Portuguese youngsters playing abroad in Europe’s top leagues. Only three of the ten players on this list will be playing in Portugal this season.
Please note, this list includes only players that have yet to establish themselves as national team players but who we believe can conceivably do so during Euro 2016 qualifying. Both Bruma and André Gomes have received call-ups but have yet to establish themselves as regular players.
Here now is a list of 10 Portuguese young stars to watch this season.
Ruben Vezo , Central Defender, Valencia FC
Last season was probably the best debut season Ruben Vezo could have asked for. He was definitively promoted to Vitória de Setúbal’s first team after two successful seasons with the club’s under-19 side. And it only took him half a season to catch the eye of La Liga giants Valencia. After making 12 appearances for Vitória de Setúbal , the central defender was off to Spain. Used primarily as a backup at Valencia for the rest of the season, Vezo still managed to appear eight times, scoring once.
This season, under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo, Vezo should play a more prominent role, especially considering Ricardo Costa and Jeremy Mathieu have left the club. Vezo will now compete with Nicolas Otamendi and Shkodran Mustafi for playing time, two well-established internationals. This is no easy task, but Vezo has the tools to develop into a solid defender. And at only 20-years-old, he has plenty of time to reach that potential.
Raphaël Guerreiro , Left-Back, FC Lorient
Having been born and raised in France, it could be said that Raphaël Guerreiro is a bit different from other players on this list. Born to a French mother and a Portuguese father, Guerreiro’s allegiances thus far lie with Portugal, despite never having played in the Portuguese league. He is already an established first-team player at French side Lorient. Despite having played only one season in top-flight, Guerreiro is already viewed as one of the most promising left-backs in Ligue 1.
It appears that little will change this season, with many touting him for another good campaign. With another successful season under his belt, larger clubs will surely come knocking for Guerriero’s services. He has reportedly drawn interest from Premier League clubs West Ham and Liverpool . If he can manage to stay healthy, Raphael Guerreiro could be the subject of a bidding war next summer.
André Gomes, Midfielder, Valencia CF
The 21-year-old midfielder began making a name for himself in Benfica’s reserve squad with some dominant performances at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. He would make his senior debut with the club that season in a Portuguese Cup match against Freamunde, scoring a goal in a 4-0 victory. His performances would earn him some playing time in the Champions League as well.
Gomes has exceptional technical ability and is versatile as well. He played in defensive midfield last season with Benfica, but his attributes are better suited for an attacking role. After being heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in January 2014, his rights were sold to an investment fund for €15 million. Gomes will be part of a resurgent Valencia side this season.
João Teixeira , Midfielder, Benfica
Few would have expected João Teixeira to have been as involved in Benfica’s pre-season as he has been, playing mainly as an anchor man in the midfield. Teixeira made 28 appearances for Benfica’s B team last season, but only 16 of those were starts. Still only 20-years-old, Teixeira has been a welcome surprise in Benfica’s otherwise underwhelming pre-season.
With the team’s first-choice holding midfielder, Ljubomir Fejsa out injured for the foreseeable future, Teixeira is now creating competition for Ruben Amorim. Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has a history of nurturing young talent, as he did with Andre Gomes. And should Teixeira be given a first-team role this season, look for big things.
João Mário, Midfielder, Sporting Lisbon
João Mário has long been viewed as a top Portuguese prospect. The midfielder has been at Sporting since he was 11-years-old, but has only managed one first team appearance so far. After spending the entire 2012-2013 season playing for Sporting’s B side, João Mário was loaned out to fellow Primeira Liga outfit Vitória de Setúbal for the second half of last season. He immediately earned a regular place on the team and managed to make 15 league appearances.
His performances were enough to earn him the ‘Young Player of the Month’ award for January and February, ahead of the likes of William Carvalho, Ricardo Horta, and Bebe. João Mário was recalled to the Sporting senior squad this summer and he appears to be in contention for a starting position. His work this pre-season has not gone unnoticed. Former Sporting midfielder Luis Vidigal delivered a glowing recommendation for the player in a recent interview. ‘ It is only a matter of time before Marco Silva realizes the value of João Mário,’ Vidigal said.
Bruno Fernandes, Attacking Midfielder, Udinese Calcio
Unlike most players on this list, Bruno Fernandes never played for one of the ‘Big Three’ of Portuguese football. In fact, the Udinese midfielder never even played for a club in Portugal’s top division. The former Boavista youth player accepted a modest offer from Italian club Novara in 2012. He has adjusted well to the Italian game, helping Novara to promotion the following season and earning a move to Udinese last summer.
Fernandes started last season in Udinese’s reserve squad, but eventually earned his way into the starting line-up. He impressed with his vision, technical skill and creativity, playing mainly in the ‘Number 10’ position behind the striker. Fernandes would make 24 Serie A appearances, scoring four goals. And he is finally receiving some recognition in his home country, having been selected for the U-19 and U-20 youth squads.
Tozé, Attacking Midfielder, Estoril-Praia
A supremely-gifted attacking midfielder who will be officially on-loan for the next two seasons at Estoril. The 21-year-old is a graduate of FC Porto’s youth academy and has been a regular player for Portugal at every youth level. He was dominant last season playing for Porto’s reserve squad in the Segunda Liga, scoring 21 goals in 40 appearances.
As well as having an eye for goal, Tozé has a well-rounded game. He is technically skilled and is versatile as well. He could play in the centre of the pitch, as well on the wings. He should receive more playing time with Estoril, who will be playing in the Europa League this season. Current manager José Couceiro, did an excellent job with a young squad at Vitória de Setubal last season. Tozé appears ready to make the next step.
Marcos Lopes, Attacking Midfielder, Lille OSC
Perhaps the most talked-about teenager in world football. Marcos Lopes first made a name for himself as a Benfica youth player, before leaving for Manchester City in 2011. He would score in his first ever appearances for The Citizens in a January 2013 FA Cup match against Watford, only minutes after coming on as a substitute. He continued his dominant performances for Manchester City’s youth squad.
Lopes played for Portugal this summer at the U-19 UEFA Championships, helping his country to the final where they eventually lost to Germany. An attacking midfielder, with exceptional technical ability and vision, Lopes feels most comfortable on the left side of the pitch. His style of play has often been compared to Ronaldinho. The 18-year-old will spend this season on loan at Ligue 1 club Lille.
Ricardo Horta, Winger, Málaga CF
19-year-old Ricardo Horta was one of the top revelations last season in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. The supremely talented winger is a former Benfica youth player, who moved south to Vitória Setúbal in 2011. He started playing regularly for the club last season, eventually helping them finishing a better than expected seventh in the league table. Horta would score seven goals for the club along the way.
It came as no surprise when La Liga club Málaga signed him this summer. Horta has not wasted any time impressing his new fan base. He scored a beautiful long-range goal in the pre-season against Australian club Perth Glory in late July. And he has dazzled fans with his exceptional skill, making him one of the top young players to watch this season in La Liga.
Bruma, Winger, Galatasaray S.K.
Once hailed as ‘Portugal’s next big thing,’ Bruma’s career has stalled due to a serious knee injury sustained last January. The timing for the winger’s injury could not have been worse. He was just beginning to find his feet at Galatasaray with a series of positive performances in both the Turkish league and the Champions League.
Bruma was selected to the national team for the first time in October 2013, just a few months before his injury. Any hopes he had of representing his country at the World Cup were all but finished. But Bruma is now healthy and back playing football. He had a positive pre-season, which is something that his new manager Cesare Prandelli should take note of. At only 19-years-old, Bruma already has the tools to become an elite player and soon.
Benfica to Deportivo (loan)
After days of intense speculation, it was announced yesterday that Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro had agreed to move on loan to La Liga side Deportivo for the season. Cavaleiro had been closely followed by Pacos Ferreira, Maritimo, and Academica after Benfica coach Jorge Jesus made it clear that the winger would not feature in his plans this season. Cavaleiro will now join the newly-promoted Spanish side until the end of the season, and will hope to build on a positive 2013/2014 season, which saw him debut both for Benfica’s first team and the Portuguese National Team. He will join fellow countrymen Diogo Salomao, Henrique Sereno, and Luisinho.
Manchester United to Benfica
Benfica have announced today the signing of Manchester United’s Bebe on a four-season contract after drawn-out negotiations between the two clubs. This spells the end of the player’s time in England, a time that he surely does not look at fondly, having been labeled a “flop” at Manchester United. Bebe has already been pictured wearing Benfica’s jersey and will join up with the team shortly. This is Benfica’s second Portuguese signing of the summer, following the club’s announcement of Eliseu’s purchase yesterday.
Bebe has been labeled a “flop” almost ever since joining Manchester United from Vitoria Guimarares in 2010, and for somewhat good reason. The winger arrived at Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson had been recommended him by scout Carlos Queiroz. In fact, as he later admitted, Ferguson had never actually seen Bebe play, but acted on the recommendation. Bebe was signed for an eye-watering 7.4 million pounds, an enormous sum for a player who had not yet played a game in the Portuguese top flight. The winger remained at Manchester United for the 2010-2011 season, despite rumors that he would leave on loan. Immediately demoted to the reserves, Bebe played the majority of the season in that category as he familiarized himself with the English style of play. As his play for the reserves improved, Bebe was given time with the first team, most notably scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the League Cup and against Buraspor in the Champions League. All-in-all, it was a relatively successful first season for Bebe, though he couldn’t shake the label of “Ferguson’s flop.”
Since that time, Bebe has been loaned out to Besiktas, Rio Ave, and Pacos Ferreira. After an injury ridden time on loan at Besiktas, Bebe was loaned to Portuguese side Rio Ave for the 2012-2013 season, where he found playing time more easy to come by than at United. Following his promising loan to Rio Ave, another loan was arranged for him at Pacos Ferreira last season. At Pacos, Bebe saw time in both the Liga Zon Sagres and the Europa League, impressing especially in the Liga Zon Sagres. Despite Pacos narrowly escaping relegation, Bebe managed to score 12 goals in 27 times from the wing, finishing the season as the league’s top-scoring Portuguese player.
His label as a “flop” may be a bit premature. Still only 24, Bebe still has the best years of his career ahead of him. And with stars set to leave Benfica this season, space may open up for the winger, where he can truly show his skill-set. Jorge Jesus has a knack of getting the best out of players and developing raw talent, so this move may be exactly what Bebe needs.
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.