Portugal U-20s: What We Learned


Portugal U-20 coach Hélio Sousa, seen here, led the team to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U-20 World Cup.

Portugal U-20 coach Hélio Sousa, seen here, led the team to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U-20 World Cup.

The Portuguese Under-20 team was unfortunate to bow out of the 2015 U-20 World Cup at the hands of Brazil on Sunday. The team’s level of play throughout the tournament was of a high standard, so much so that many touted them as potential victors. Unfortunately, luck was not on their side, as they were narrowly defeated by Brazil on penalties in the quarter-final. Despite this disappointing end, there are many positives to take away from Portugal’s encouraging run. Continue reading

U-20s Edged Out on Penalties


Andre Moreira - Portugal vs Brazil - 2015 U20 World Cup

Portugal 0-0 Brazil (1-3 Penalties)

2015 U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal

In an entertaining encounter, the Portuguese Under-20 team was defeated on penalties by Brazil in the quarterfinal of the 2015 U-20 World Cup. The defeat sees Portugal exit the tournament, despite some excellent performances earlier in the tournament. Brazil was the most difficult opposition Portugal had faced in the tournament thus far, and if this match was anything to judge off of, Portugal could have progressed further.  Continue reading

Portugal Stroll into Knockout Round


Photo: FIFA

Photo: FIFA

Portugal 4-0 Qatar

2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup

The Portugal Under-20 team secured a second round berth on Wednesday in Hamilton, New Zealand after they defeated the Qatar U-20s 4-0. André Silva finished off Gelson Martins’ cross for Portugal’s first, before Ivo Rodrigues scored an excellent overhead kick later in the match. Ivo then doubled his tally, when his header from a Nuno Santos cross found the net. Soon after, Ivo turned provider, assisting João Vigário’s goal.

Continue reading

Portugal Roll Over Senegal in U20 World Cup Opener


The Portuguese team celebrates with Nuno Santos, following the team's third goal.

The Portuguese team celebrates with Nuno Santos, following the team’s third goal.

A goal in the first minute of the match and two goals in the dying minutes were enough to push the Portuguese Under-20 team past Senegal in the Seleção’s opening match of the 2015 U-20 World Cup. Martins scored 26 seconds into the match, but Portugal would have to wait until the last minutes of the match to add to their tally. Substitute Nuno Santos first assisted André Silva, and then scored a wonderful attempt of his own. Continue reading

João Cancelo’s Valencia Loan Made Permanent


Photo: Valencia CF

Photo: Valencia CF

João Cancelo

Benfica to Valencia

Valencia CF announced today their definitive purchase of Benfica’s João Cancelo. Cancelo played in Spain all season at Valencia, where he was on loan from the Portuguese giants. As part of the loan deal, Valencia had the option to purchase Cancelo outright for 15 million euros, and though the final price of the deal has not been announced, it is believed to be 15 million.

This deal represents yet another sale of a talented young player for big profit, following in the footsteps of André Gomes and Bernardo Silva. Gomes was at most a bench player at Benfica, but has since thrived at Valencia. Silva had yet to even break into the first team at Benfica, but his 15 million euro move to Monaco has proven a tidy bit of business for the French club, after some increasingly impressive performances. If this deal is to be compared to that of Gomes and Silva, we can expect big things from João Cancelo in the near future.

Of the deal, Cancelo said: “[I am] very happy to continue at Valencia CF, whom I hope to help for a long time to come. I will always carry Benfica in my heart, but now my biggest dream is to continue giving my best for Valencia CF, growing with the team and repaying the great confidence that the club have shown in me.” (Valencia CF) His deal runs until 2021.

U-20 World Cup Preview: Portugal’s Team


Portugal head coach Hélio Sousa has a wealth of talent at his disposal. Photo: FPF

Portugal head coach Hélio Sousa has a wealth of talent at his disposal. Photo: FPF

In a little over a week, the Portuguese U-20 Team will kick off their much anticipated U-20 World Cup campaign with their first match against Senegal. The U-20’s participation in this summer’s tournament will be the third consecutive finals appearance, after a runners-up finish in 2011 and a second round exit in 2013. Expectations are high for the Portuguese, with many of the players included in the squad touted to be stars of the future. But, as has been the case with Portugal’s involvement in the U-20 World Cup, many players are not as well-known as some of their older counterparts. So let’s take a look at the team: Continue reading

Joao Cancelo Joins Valencia on Loan


Photo: Valencia CF

Photo: Valencia CF

Joao Cancelo

Benfica to Valencia (loan)

Benfica’s young right-back Joao Cancelo has joined La Liga side Valencia on a season-long loan from Benfica, the Spanish club have announced. Cancelo is already training with the team and will be presented later today. It is believed that the arrival of Cancelo will spell the end of Joao Pereira’s time at Valencia, with the veteran right-back reportedly on the out.

This move comes after a summer of speculation about Joao Cancelo’s future. Pacos Ferreira were reportedly very close to securing a loan deal earlier in the summer, but that deal fell through. More recently, it was announced that Meriton Capital Limited, Valencia’s soon-to-be owner Peter Lim’s company, purchased the rights to Cancelo as well as Bernardo Silva and Ivan Cavaleiro. With little reported on this supposed purchase, it is difficult to determine its legitimacy. But if it is true, it comes as little surprise, as Peter Lim recently purchased the rights to two other Benfica players, Andre Gomes and Rodrigo.

The Spanish club’s new coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, is known from his time coaching Rio Ave to have strong ties to Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes. Mendes has brokered deals for players such as David Luis, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Angel Di Maria in the past, and much of Nuno’s Rio Ave side were represented by Mendes’ agency, Gestifute. Andre Gomes, Rodrigo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, and Ivan Cavaleiro are all represented by Mendes, which will guarantee them big moves in the future, but not necessarily playing time.

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

Valencia Secure Andre Gomes


photo courtesy abola.pt

photo courtesy abola.pt

Andre Gomes

Benfica to Valencia

After a convoluted and confusing transfer saga, Andre Gomes has officially joined Valencia CF from Portuguese giants Benfica. In January, it was announced that Meriton Capital Limited had purchased his rights for a hefty 15 million euros. While it is becoming more common place for third parties to purchase percentages of players in Portugal, until this January, it was very uncommon for a third party to purchase an entire player. With Gomes essentially owned by a corporation, he continued at Benfica for the rest of the season, playing huge roles in Benfica’s quest to both the Primera Liga and to the Europa League final. Speculation around his future began to build when it was discovered that Meriton’s owner, Peter Lim, was on the verge of purchasing Spanish side Valencia CF. It was widely believed that Gomes would move to Valencia, but Lim’s takeover of the club stalled any movement.

Finally, it was announced that Andre Gomes would travel to Valencia today to undergo medical examinations and be presented officially. When looking at Gomes’ statistics, the 15 million euro price-tag seems quite inflated. But upon further examination, 15 million euros looks like a reasonable amount. Though he has only appeared 13 times for Benfica in the past two seasons in the league, he has amassed 41 appearances in all competitions, including runs in both the Champions League and the Europa League. And it was this season in the Europa League where Gomes truly shone, being named to the Europa League team of the tournament. One must keep in mind that Gomes is still only 20 years old.

Andre Gomes will join fellow compatriots Ruben Vezo, Ricardo Costa, Joao Pereira, and Helder Postiga at Valencia, as well as the team’s coach, Nuno, who is also Portuguese. With Valencia recruiting heavily after disappointing last season, Gomes will surely have to fight for his place in the team. But one feels that if he earns a spot in the team, this move will do wonders for his development.

Vitoria Guimaraes: Return to Roots


Vitoria_Sport_ClubeThe financial situation around the world has been a talking point for some time. Many countries that usually have strong economies have suffered as a result of the recession. Portugal is one of the worst. At the same time, a common trend has emerged in the world of football. Wealthy individuals have bought football clubs, pumping millions, and even billions, into them. Manchester City, Malaga, and PSG are three prime examples. The very facade of football has changed as a result. While these clubs have not been affected by the economic downturn, some have not been as lucky. Vitoria Guimaraes is a perfect example.

Vitoria SC, as it is known in short, is a club with a rich history, like many clubs in Portugal. founded in 1922, the club has served most of it’s life in the top division in Portugal. Although they have never championed the league, they have established themselves as a dominant force, especially in recent times. Before the emergence of Braga as the fourth top team in Portugal, many would argue that Vitoria Guimaraes was the fourth strongest team in Portugal.

The economic downturn, along with mismanagement, hit Vitoria SC particularly hard. At one point last season, the players’ wages went unpaid for four months. The club had to offload a number of high wage earners as a result. Players such as Edgar Silva, Paulo Sergio, Faouzi, and Anderson Santana were offloaded in the summer, likely to cut the club’s wage expenses. Many did not predict the club to survive the league this season. Vitoria Guimaraes has survived this season, however, and not only have they survived, but they have survived comfortably. How they did is interesting.

The departures of the aforementioned players obviously left some large gaps in the squad for this season. Knowing that the club did not have the resources to buy more higher-profile players, the club turned to their talented youth pool. Ricardo, Tiago Rodrigues, and Paulo Oliveira were all given first-team roles. Likewise, the club secured the loan of Sporting Libson’s youngster Amidio Balde and purchased Andre Andre from Varzim for free. All five of these players have played pivotal roles at one point or another in Vitoria Guimaraes’ campaign so far this season. For instance, Amidio Balde has scored five goals in twelve appearances, while Ricardo and Andre Andre have established themselves as permanent first-team fixtures.

The situation with Vitoria Guimaraes is an interesting one. Many clubs look abroad for talent, while overlooking the talented players already at their own club. Vitoria SC went back to the basics, and it has paid off for them. Not only are they strong this season (6th so far in the Liga Zon Sagres), but these talented young players will certainly grow, and the team will be stronger every year for years to come. Why? Because the team invested in what they had, and had faith in young Portuguese players.