Portugal and Poland Play to Stalemate


Poland 0-0 Portugal

The Portuguese National Team was forced to rue missed chances as they tied Poland 0-0 in a friendly match on Wednesday. Though the team created chances, they failed to capitalize, and a poor second half resigned the team to a draw.

Paulo Bento fielded a strong Portuguese side, with Hugo Almeida being preferred to Helder Postiga in the striker position. The game started off well, with the midfield passing the ball around well, and generally dictating the flow of the game. The first presentable chance fell to Nani, who latched on to a smart header from Raul Meireles, and half volleyed towards the Polish goal. Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny punched the ball to safety, and Portugal’s first chance was spurned. Nani was at the end of the next chance, also. After latching onto a beautiful cross-field pass, Nani controlled the ball and easily slipped past two markers, juked-out another defender, and shot at the near post. Once again, the Polish goalkeeper was on hand to clear away the danger. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani had further shots either saved or missed, as Portugal entered the half on a good note.

The second half, however, was a much different story. Poland seized possession and created numerous chances, and the flow of the match was decidedly one-way. The deadlock could have been broken any number of times, had it not been for the efforts of Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal. His excellent saves played a huge part in keeping Poland at bay in the second half of play. The only event of not from the Portuguese team was the debut of Nelson Oliveira, who replaced Nani for the final ten minutes of play.

Patricio, Joao Pereira, Pepe (Rolando), Bruno Alves, Coentrao (Nelson), Veloso, Moutinho (Manuel Fernandes), Meireles, Nani (Nelson Oliveira), Ronaldo (Quaremsa), Almeida (Postiga)

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Euro 2012 Away Jersey Presented


In a ceremony on Sunday, Nike officially presented Portugal’s away kit for Euro 2012. The design is exactly the same as the leaked photo from a month back, being white with a red/green cross. Paulo Bento, Nelson Oliveira, Danilo Pereira, Raul Meireles, Bruno Alves, and Miguel Veloso were all present at the presentation. This is the jersey that will be worn in Portugal’s friendly against Poland tomorrow. Here are some of the pictures.

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

Benfica Snap Up Young Pair


Manel Liz and Nelson Semedo

Sintrense to Benfica (end of season)

Reports coming out of Portugal (and Benfica’s website) suggest that Liga Zon Sagres powerhouse Benfica has snapped up two midfielders both plying their trade in the third division. The pair, Nelsinho (Nelson Semedo) and Manel Liz, are both playing at Sintrense and are setting the league alight. This season is Nelsinho’s first as a senior player. Since being promoted from the youth teams at the club, the midfielder has already appeared in thirteen games for the club, and has contributed three goals in the process. At just eighteen, these numbers sound quite encouraging, and he looks to be a player for the future. Manel Liz, on the other hand, is twenty-two and is already an established member of the first team. He has started thirteen games this season, and has already contributed four goals. Liz is a wideman, while Nelsinho is an out-and-out center midfielder. The pair will finish out the season at Sintrense, and sign a six-year contract in June.

Albanian Goalkeeper Keeps Portugal at Bay


Albania 2-2 Portugal (U21)

A fine performance from the Albanian goalkeeper helped Albania to a 2-2 draw against Portugal in Group 6 of the 2013 UEFA U-21 Qualification. Portugal had the majority of the chances of the night, but the keeper held Portugal to just two goals. Portugal now sit at second in Group 6 with eight points, with qualification still a possibility. The team must win more matches if they hope to qualify for the tournament proper, as they are currently now ranked very highly on the second-place team ranking.

The game started with Portugal on the front foot. After just two minutes of play, Josue recorded the first shot of the night, after he lifted his shot well over the goal, not troubling the Albanian goalkeeper. Soon after, some excellent wing play from Wilson Eduardo was finished with a cross, which was met by a ferocious volley from Andre Martins. The Albanian goalkeeper reacted well to record his first save of the night, and keep the scores level at 0-0. Portugal continued to press and completely dominate Albania, and it all payed off. Ruben Ferreira whipped in a pin-point cross, which met the head of Josue, who tucked his header into the bottom corner. That was how the half ended: 1-0 in Portugal’s favor. The team looked worthy of the lead, as they were the only of the two to create any sort of chances.

The second half started in almost spectacular fashion. Wilson Eduardo’s run was picked out well by Andre Martins. Eduardo dribbled the ball and shot, only for the Albanian keeper to save. The rebound fell to the onrushing Andre Martins, whose shot was stopped by the leg of an Albanian defender. That save deflected the ball back out to just outside the box, where Pele was waiting. The midfielder had the presence of mind to send in a chipped shot. Once again, however, the opposition goalkeeper was on hand to make the save, this time an acrobatic fingertip save. Albania responded quickly with virtually their first chance of the game. A lofted ball was sent in by an Albanian defender. The pass was met by an Albanian, whose header was controlled by Sadiku, and shot first time. The ball flew past the Mika to give Albania a surprise goal and level the scores at 1-1. Portugal, however, responded also. A peach of a cross was sent in by Cedric, and Wilson Eduardo headed the ball smartly over the opposition keeper. The score was now at 1-2, but it wasn’t set to stay that way. Some lax defending from Portugal allowed Sadiku to shoot on goal, and score. Mika will be faulted for this goal, but in truth it was a poor defensive showing in general. That was how the match ended: 2-2.

Mika, Ruben Ferreira(Ludovic), Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Cedric, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins, Josue, Salvador Agra(Pele), Nelson Oliveira(Rui Fonte), Wilson Eduardo

Man of the Match: Wilson Eduardo

Crutch of the Match: Mika

Andre Martins’ Stock Rises


 

Portugal 5-0 Moldova (U21)

Nelson Oliveira’s brace helped the Portuguese National Under-21 team to a thumping 5-0 victory over Moldova and push Portugal into third in their group. Sana, Abel Camara, and Rui Fonte all scored also. The win was a much needed one for the team after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Poland and a 2-1 loss against Russia last month. The team responded well, completely dominating Moldova in every department. Andre Martins was also instrumental to the team’s success tonight, recording two assists.

The game started off well for the Seleccao. Just six minutes in, Nelson Oliveira capitalized on a mistake from a Moldovan defender to bury the ball into the bottom corner and give Portugal an early 1-0 lead. Portugal applied heavily pressure and almost doubled their lead after a wonderful long ball from Andre Martins found Josue’s run on the right. The midfielder padded his header down to the onrushing Rui Fonte, who was unable to get a clean strike away. Andre Martins then came close again after his well-struck free kick was beaten away by the Moldovan goalkeeper. Andre Martins then turned provider for Rui Fonte for Portugal’s second goal. The midfielder picked up the ball on the right side of the pitch and delivered an inch-perfect cross right onto the head of Rui Fonte, who made no mistake with his finish.  Andre Martins was then on the end of Portugal’s chance eight minutes later, after a quick throw-in from Cedric found the winger in space, but Martins couldn’t shoot on frame. Portugal were too hot to handle for Moldova, but it was looking to be more the Andre Martins show than anything else; and what a show it was. Martins continued his impressive game when a quick give-and-go opened up space for the midfielder, whose square ball found Sana, who made no mistake with his shot to make the score 3-0 in Portugal’s favor. Very soon after, Portugal rubbed yet more salt into Moldova’s already throbbing wounds. Ruben Ferreira found space on the left and whipped in a cross which fell plum onto the feet of Nelson Oliveira, who guided the ball into the back of the net.

That was how the half ended: 4-0 Portugal. The Seleccao were ahead and looked worthy victors already. There was more to come, however. Two of the night’s finest performers were substituted off just after half time. Andre Martins and Nelson Oliveira were replaced by Abel Camara and Salvador Agra, respectively. This change was most likely to keep the two players as fit as possible for the team’s upcoming match against Albania, who will most likely pose much more of a threat. The second half was much more laid-back than the first, but Portugal still managed to add to their tally. Rui Fonte was played through and toe-poked a pass to the waiting Abel Camara, who stroked the ball into the back of the net with his less-dominant right-foot. That was how the match ended. With this win, Portugal move into second place in Group 6, and have a chance to qualify for the finals for the first time in what will be six years.

Man-of-the-match: Andre Martins/Nelson Oliveira

Crutch of the match: NO ONE!

Mika, Joao Pereira, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Ruben, Josue, Sana(Diogo Viana), Andre Martins(Abel Camara), Diogo Amado, Rui Fonte, Nelson Oliveira(Salvador Agra)

U20 World Cup Starlets: Midfielders and Forwards Season Update


Following Portugal’s stellar performance at the recent U-20 World Cup, many wondered whether the crop of players who went so far in the tournament would continue their form for their club teams. Let’s take a look at how the 2011-2012 season is going for each of those young, talented players.

Midfielders

Pele – The midfielder joined Genoa from Belenenses before last summer’s U-20 World Cup, but due to his solid performances, Milan snatched him up soon after the tournament ended. He has since been cycled into their youth setup, currently with the U-20 team. Pele recently made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Julio Alves – Much like Pele, Julio Alves was transferred to one club, only to turn around and move again, without having even played a match. Julio Alves, who is the younger brother of Bruno Alves, was transferred to Atletico Madrid from Rio Ave. On the last day of the transfer window, however, Besiktas snapped him up. He has only made the bench once for Besiktas, but has managed to debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Sana – The midfielder who was so instrumental in Portugal’s success at the U-20 World Cup has not had an equally impressive season. Sana only just managed his debut last week, which came from the substitute’s bench. As the season progresses, Sana will most likely become more of an integral part of Valladolid’s first team. Sana also made his debut with the Portugal U-21 team.

Alex – The Santa Clara midfielder, who most memorably scored in the final against Brazil at the U-20 World Cup, is enjoying a successful season. Alex has made seven appearances in all competitions so far this season, scoring three times. All signs are pointing to this being the breakout season for Alex.

Danilo Pereira – Pereira has mainly been playing for Parma’s top youth squad this season. This may seem a bit unfair as his performances at the U-20 World Cup suggested that he was ready to play at a higher level, but he will continue to develop while in the youth team. Pereira was called up early for the Portugal U-21 team for their upcoming matches next month.

Sergio Oliveira – The Porto prospect has been playing this season on loan at Belgian side Mechelen from Porto. Oliveira enjoyed a successful debut season last term for Liga Zon Sagres side Beira-Mar. The midfielder has played in four league matches for the Belgian team this season, and is continuing to look to impress.

Ricardo Dias – Having been released from Porto, Beira-Mar snapped up the midfielder quickly. Dias was mainly used as a substitute during the U-20 World Cup, and looks to be used similarly at Beira-Mar this season. He has yet to make his league debut, but has appeared on the bench for almost every game this season.

Forwards

Nelson Oliveira – The star of the show last summer has tried heroically to continue his form this season for Benfica’s first team, where coach Jorge Jesus stated Oliveira would spend the season. His efforts paid off as he made his official debut for the club, in a cup game. Oliveira has also made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team, and even started against Russia.

Amidio Balde – Balde has made five appearances so far this season for Cercle Brugge, where he is on loan from Sporting Lisbon. In those five appearances, the striker picked up his first, and only so far, goal for the club.

Caetano – 2010/2011 was a good debut season for Caetano. In fact, the diminutive striker was a revelation in the league last season. This season has not been as kind to him, however. Caetano has failed to find the net in the five times he has appeared this season for Pacos Ferreira.

Rafael Lopes – The striker with the afro who scored a lot got a haircut before the U-20 World Cup, and hasn’t scored since. Lopes racked up ten goals last season for Varzim, but has not scored yet this season. He has actually been quite awful.

Serginho – Serginho was transferred from Trofense to Beira-Mar at the end of the transfer window this August, but has yet to make an impact. The forward did not make a single appearance for the U-20 team during their World Cup run, even though he was integral to Trofense last season.

Youngsters Draw Poland


Portugal 1-1 Poland (U21)

The Portuguese Under-21 picked up an unlucky point against Poland in their second match of Euro 2013 qualification. The game started off perfectly for the home side, with Pedro Mendes heading in a Josue cross to give Portugal an early 1-0 lead. That goal was virtually the first thing of note to occur in the match. Instead of dropping back in intensity as we have seen much too often, the team pressed forward. Wilson Eduardo came close after a brilliant turn and pass from Sana set him up, but he lifted his shot above the goal. Portugal then came within a whisker away from doubling their lead. A curling cross from the left was sent in, and the youngster’s deft header clipped the crossbar as it bounced out. Poland then surprised everyone when they grabbed a goal to level the scores at 1-1. Some sloppy defending and some neat link-up play gave Poland a shock equaliser. Not at all put off, Portugal continued their charge forward. Wilson Eduardo was next to join the list of misses, and his was certainly the worst. After a blatantly errant back pass from a Pole, Wilson Eduardo was one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, only to be brought down by the keeper in the box. The referee made no hesitation as he showed the keeper red and pointed to the spot. Wilson Eduardo stepped up and struck the penalty, which hit the left-hand upright post and rolled agonizingly close along the goalmouth to the opposite side. Portugal continued their dominance, but luck was not on their side. Wilson Eduardo tried two speculative efforts, but they fizzed wide and high, respectively. After Diogo Viana’s well-struck free kick was saved by the Polish goalkeeper, Andre Almeida came agonizingly close to sealing the win for the Seleccao. A fine cross was sent in from the right, which picked up Andre Almeida’s run perfectly. The midfielder’s header cannoned back off the upright. That miss summed up the night for Portugal, who just couldn’t find Lady Luck. The final score: 1-1. Portugal may not have won, but the skill and understanding of the players is an encouraging sign. With some work, this team has the ability to be great.

Mika, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Mario Rui, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins(David Simao), Sana(Nelson Oliveira), Josue, Wilson Eduardo(Diogo Viana), Rui Fonte

U-21 Squad Released for Qualification Matches


Portuguese Under-21 coach Rui Jorge has named a squad of 23 for the team’s upcoming Euro 2013 qualification matches against Poland and Russia. The list includes no fewer than six players that were involved in this summer’s U-20 World Cup, which is surely a smart move by the coach, as that team has been heralded as the future of the Portuguese National Team. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Cristiano Figueiredo, Luis Ribeiro, Mika
Defenders: Cédric Soares, Ivo Pinto, João Pereira, Mário Rui, Pedro Mendes, Rúben, Vitor Bastos
Midfielders: Ludovic, André Almeida, André Martins, David Simão, Diogo Amado, Josué, Pelé, Lassana Camará
Forwards: Abel Camará, Diogo Viana, Nélson Oliveira, Rui Fonte, Wilson Eduardo

 

Oliveira and Sana Dropped Due to Injury


Nelson Oliveira and Lassana Camara have both been dropped from the Portuguese Under-21 team, due to injury. Both Oliveira and Sana, as he is called, impressed for Portugal during this summer’s U-20 World Cup. They have more than earned their call-ups, but their U-21 debuts will have to wait. Pele, of Genoa, and Joao Silva, currently on loan at Vitoria Setubal from Everton, have been called up as able replacements. Joao Silva has been in fine form this season, already scoring twice this season. Pele has yet to play for Genoa, but like Sana and Nelson Oliveira, he was impressive in the U-20 World Cup.