Following their Euro 2013 qualifier on Thursday, Portuguese U-21 coach Rui Jorge made some changes to the squad that is set to take on France on September 5th. Mario Rui, Nuno Reis, Julio Alves, David Simao, Caetano, Salvador Agra have all been called up in place of Ivo Pinto, Vitor Bastos, Andre Almeida, Diogo Viana, Ricardo Martins, and Abel Camara. Of the players drafted into the squad, David Simao is the only one who has any sort of experience with the U-21 team. The remaining five are just off Portugal’s best display at a U-20 World Cup for a long time.
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)
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.
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.