Fernando Santos: What Can We Expect from Portugal’s New Boss?


Portugal Cyprus Euro 2012 Qual

Could we see Ricardo Carvalho back in the team?

The Portuguese Football Federation announced this week the appointment of Fernando Santos as the Selecao’s head coach. Santos has filled the position left vacated by the departure of Paulo Bento, the team’s previous coach. Bento was known for his stubbornness, which resulted in stagnant team selections, as well as some players being exiled from the team. With Santos now in charge, there is a natural hope for a renewed team; one that is open to any player deemed worthy to represent it. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Fernando Santos, in terms of player selection and tactics. Continue reading

Lokomotiv Moscow Snap up Fernandes


Manuel Fernandes - Lokomotiv Moscow 2014

Manuel Fernandes

Besiktas to Lokomotiv Moscow (free transfer)

Manuel Fernandes is set to move again. After starting his career in Portugal, the midfielder has played in Spain, England, and Turkey. He can now add Russia to that list, after his transfer to Russian Premier League club Lokomotiv Moscow was announced today. The midfielder was without a club after his contract with Besiktas ran out, and the Russian team were the most enticing offer. Fernandes had also been heavily linked with a move back to Benfica, the club where he began his career, but the player instead opted to stay abroad.

A player whose talent is undoubted, Fernandes has struggled for form over the past few seasons. That, coupled with injuries, meant that Fernandes’ stock has fallen greatly in the past season. After starting his career brightly at Benfica and making his debut for the national team at 19 years old, Fernandes had two stints on loan in England, first with Portsmouth then at Everton. After returning from Everton, Fernandes moved again, this time permanently to Valencia for a fee of 18 million euros. After lukewarm performances and injury problems, Fernandes signed for Besiktas for a measly 2 million euros after a successful loan spell. At Besiktas, Fernandes’ performances ranged from sublime to abysmal, and his career stagnated.

This move comes in the prime of Manuel Fernandes. Aged 28 years, many players have the most success during this time in their career. Can Fernandes prove everyone wrong? Can he finally find his prime?

Eder and Amorim Replace Martins and Fernandes


Manuel Fernandes and Carlos Martins have both had to pull out of the Portuguese squad due to injury ahead of the team’s upcoming games against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg. Called to replace them are Eder and Ruben Amorim, both of Braga. Both have enjoyed solid starts to their respective season, each having a hand in Braga’s qualification to the Champion’s League. This is Eder’s maiden call for the Seleccao, while Amorim has appeared once before for the team.

Manuel Da Costa Loaned to Nacional


Manuel Da Costa – Lokomotiv to Nacional (loan)

Portuguese central defender Manuel Da Costa has joined Liga Zon Sagres side Nacional on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow. Costa did not play in to Slaven Bilic’s first-team plans at the Russian club, and is now searching for regular playing time in Portugal, which he will undoubtedly get. Da Costa moved from West Ham in June 2011, and enjoyed a relatively successful first season at the club, most notably scoring two against Zenit.

Pizzi Earns Maiden Call


Paulo Bento released a squad of 23 for the Seleccao’s upcoming games against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. Notable inclusions are Pizzi (who has enjoyed a great start to this season at Deportivo), Manuel Fernandes (who was omitted from the Euro 2012 squad), and Nuno Andre Coelho (who made the last call-up by the skin of his teeth). Rolando, Hugo Viana, and Hugo Almeida all miss selection. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Beto (Braga), Eduardo (Istanbul BB), Rui Patrício (Sporting)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), João Pereira (Valencia), Miguel Lopes (Porto), Nuno André Coelho (Braga), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia)
Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Benfica), Custódio (Braga), João Moutinho (Porto), Manuel Fernandes (Besiktas), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raúl Meireles (Chelsea), Rúben Micael (Braga)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hélder Postiga (Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Nélson Oliveira (Deportivo), Pizzi (Deportivo), Varela (Porto)

Wanted: Manuel Fernandes


The heartbeat of the Besiktas’ midfield is Manuel Fernandes. There is no arguing that. Since joining the Turkish team on loan from Valencia in January 2011, Fernandes has come-of-age. His performances on loan were of such a high standard that at the end of the season, Besiktas opted to purchase him outright. Since then, he has been transformed from a talented player to a talisman for the Turkish team. The midfielder has scored six in all competitions this season, including two in his last two matches. He has also assisted countless others, which has helped him cement himself as one of Besiktas’s most important players.

While Manuel Fernandes’ talent has been undeniable, contract disputes and injuries have hampered any sort of consistency. Fernandes broke onto the scene for Benfica in the 2003-2004 season. In only his second game for the club, he scored, making him the second youngest goalscorer for the club. He soon established himself as an important member of the team, and, in the process, picked up his first cap for Portugal. After two loan spells abroad, both in England (for Portsmouth and Everton), Valencia snapped him up for a fee of around 18 million euros. At Valencia, injuries hampered his natural progress. After failing to make Unai Emery’s plans last season, he joined Besiktas on loan from January until the end of the season. After a successful half-season at the Turkish club, he was bough outright for 2 million euros. Since then, he has established himself as one of the finest midfielders playing in Turkey, and is considered by many to be a shoo-in for the Euro 2012 squad.

His fine performances for Besiktas have not gone unnoticed. Real Madrid and Tottenham are both said to be courting the midfielder. Reports coming out of Turkey even suggest that a 17 million pound deal has already been agreed between Tottenham and Besiktas for the midfielder. Though these reports appear to be untrue, a similar deal may not be too far off.

Nelson Oliveira Receives First Call


Paulo Bento released a squad list for the Portugal National Team’s upcoming friendly against Poland, and included some surprises. The most noticeable is his inclusion of Nelson Oliveira in the squad. Nelson Oliveira is only a fringe player at Benfica, and though he has shown his worth for the team in cup matches and in various youth levels of the Portugal National team, his call-up comes as a surprise. But with Nuno Gomes lacking match fitness, Paulo Bento was left with no other choice. Nelson, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, and Silvestre Varela all return to the squad after missing out on selection last time around.

Goalkeepers: Beto, Eduardo, Rui Patrício

Defenders: Bruno Alves, Coentrão, João Pereira, Pepe, Nélson, Ricardo Costa, Rolando

Midfielders: Carlos Martins, João Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, Miguel Veloso, Raúl Meireles, Rúben Micael

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Hélder Postiga, Nani, Nélson Oliveira, Quaresma, Varela

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.

Manuel Da Costa Double Sinks Zenit


Manuel Da Costa scored a brace in Lokomotiv Moscow’s 4-2 win over Zenit on Saturday. A Zenit side featuring Danny and Bruno Alves went into the locker room ahead 2-0 at the interval, but the game changed soon after. Obinna and Caicedo, both of whom were picked up in the off-season, scored to level the scores at 2-2. The scoreline didn’t stay that way for very long, however, as Manuel Da Costa leaped above Zenit’s goalkeeper to nod the ball into the net. Da Costa furthered Zenit’s pain when he smartly dove in for the header at the backpost from a corner kick. Such a comeback is rarely seen in football, especially against such a team as Zenit, and Manuel Da Costa will have to take some of the credit. Da Costa moved from recently-relegated West Ham to the Russian side this summer, and has since settled in just fine, as evidenced with his showing this weekend.

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Besiktas Interested in Pizzi


Due to the recent injury of Bebe, Besiktas are now looking at Braga’s young winger, Pizzi, as his replacement. Bebe joined Besiktas on loan from Manchester United, where he had failed to make the grade, but a recent injury has ruled him out for six months. Besiktas now move their attention to Pizzi, who shone for Pacos Ferreira last season. Pizzi is now with Braga’s first team, with a starting spot likely. According to reports in Portugal, the required fee is around 5 million euros. If the move does materialize, Pizzi will join up with fellow Portuguese players Simao, Bebe, Hugo Almeida, and Manuel Fernandes.