Suspension Reduced for Fernando Santos


Fernando SantosAfter deliberation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced today that Fernando Santos’ suspension would be reduced from eight games to two games. Santos, the current Portuguese National Team coach, earned his eight-match suspension during last summer’s World Cup, where he was in charge of the Greek National Team. During the second round match against Costa Rica, Santos was expelled from the match, because of an alleged remark he made to the referee.  Continue reading

Marcos Lopes: Star of the (Near) Future?


Marcos "Rony" LopesFor those who follow the English game closely, the name Marcos Lopes may ring a bell. For those who don’t follow the English game very closely, prepare to hear that name more and more as time goes on. Marcos Lopes is a winger/attacking midfielder who turns out for Manchester City’s youth teams. And he doesn’t just turn out…He’s one of their most important and exciting prospects. Last year, having just turned 17, Marcos Lopes entered the pitch for Manchester City’s main team in an FA Cup draw against Watford. Although he was only on the field for a matter of minutes, the winger still managed to pounce on a rebound and score on his debut. The goal made him the youngest ever goalscorer for Manchester City. And it wasn’t just an accident. At the end of that season, Lopes was named the Manchester City Academy’s Player of the Year. As a result, he was made captain of the youth academy team for this season, 2013/2014.

Marcos Lopes - Watford debutOne may think that making a breakthrough at a club with a caliber such as that of Manchester City would be harder than, say, a team such as Aston Villa or Sunderland. That assumption is totally correct. Ahead of Lopes in the pecking order at City are the likes of Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas, and James Milner. Seasoned internationals. Bought for millions. This is what makes Marcos Lopes’ situation all the more special. Still only 17, he is already having a go at the first team. Time will tell whether or not he continues to receive opportunities, but there is still one thing that may greatly influence his development: his coach.

Marcos Lopes - Manchester City academyWhen Lopes debuted for the first time on that fateful night against Watford, the coach of Manchester City was Roberto Mancini. The fact that Lopes was considered for first team action under Mancini speaks wonders for the player’s work-rate and dedication. During his tenure, Mancini had tons of cash at his disposal and typically looked to purchase talent rather than develop it. Marcos Lopes’ debut wasn’t a fluke. Over the summer, Mancini was replaced with Manuel Pellegrini, who had a much different philosophy. Pellegrini had just left Malaga, a club who had originally been gifted with mass monetary resources (like Manchester City), but had then seen the money dry up. What Pellegrini was left with at Malaga was a squad with relatively few recognizable names. What he did was nothing short of a miracle. Helping the club to sixth in La Liga and the quarterfinals of the Champions League, Pellegrini relied on young, unproven players. This paid off, with Isco being at the heart of most of the success. With Pellegrini’s background as a youth development expert, we should logically expect to see more of Marcos Lopes, right? Right.  A couple of weeks ago, Manchester City began their League Cup campaign at home to Wigan Athletic. Starting on the left wing for City was none other than Lopes. Pellegrini obviously has faith in the 17 year old, as do much of the backroom staff and players, and for good reason.

Marcos Lopes - Portugal U-19Oh, and he also is a starter for the Portuguese Under 19 team. Debuting for the team at only 16 years of age, Lopes has gone on to make 13 appearances, scoring eight times. A call-up to the Portugal U-21 team is likely not far off, or maybe even the Senior Team. But who knows. If Marcos Lopes continues to develop as rapidly as he has been, the Seleccao may not be very far away.

Portugal Drawn in Group of Death


Euro 2012

Group B

Portugal-Netherlands-Germany-Denmark

With the qualification stage completed for Euro 2012, it was time to see how the teams in the tournament itself would be divided. The group stage draw happened on Friday, and Portugal were drawn in one of the hardest European Championship groups they have ever been in. Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark all join the Seleccao in Group B. You heard me. Germany AND the Netherlands. The average world ranking for our group? 6. The Netherlands and Germany currently sit at 2nd and 3rd, respectively, while Denmark is not too far behind at 11. Now, if we were to take a look at Group A, we would see that their average world ranking is 32. Poland is not even in the top fifty, while Czech Republic isn’t in the upper thirty. Needless to say, these groups are not even, but regardless, Portugal have a difficult group on their hands. The team undoubtedly has the talent to vanquish Denmark, and possibly the Netherlands, but Germany will be a different story.

 

Rudy Dreams of Representing the Seleccao


Enjoying his impressive start to the season, Rudy has expressed his desire to represent Portugal internationally at some point in his career. The striker currently sits in third in the top scorers list in the Belgian League with five goals. Virtually unknown before the start of the season, Rudy has surprised all with his eye for goal and intelligent link up play. The striker is excited as to how his career is currently going, and one of his goals is to represent the Portuguese National team. “Everything’s happened very quickly, faster than I expected it to. This means I’m doing well, I’ve been helping the team and that’s the most important thing. I strive to improve myself so that I can achieve my objectives and those of Cercle. My dream is to represent the Portuguese national team, but to do that I have to work hard,” said the striker.

Pizzi in Madrid Ahead of Atletico Move


Pizzi, who recently returned to Braga from his loan at Pacos Ferreira, is reportedly very close to a move to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid. Pizzi has continued his stellar form from last season at Pacos Ferreira to this pre-season with Braga, often one of their more eye-catching performers. The winger was the subject of interest from Russia, namely Zenit St.Petersburg, but the move did not materialize. Now, Atletico are swooping down to secure his signature. It won’t be cheap, though. A fee of 14 million is reported to be the agreed fee, as that is his release clause. If Pizzi does indeed join Atletico Madrid, he will be the third Portuguese acquisition of the summer for the Spanish giants, after Silvio and Tiago.

Bento Names Squad of 21


Portugal coach Paulo Bento has named a squad of 21 for the team’s upcoming friendly with Luxembourg next week. The game is the Seleccao’s last warm-up game before their continuing Euro 2012 qualification  campaign. The most notable inclusions in Bento’s squad are Andre Castro, Nuno Gomes, and Quim. Nuno Gomes and Quim were previously Benfica stalwarts, but are both now at Braga. Both seem to be on the out for the Seleccao, but Bento evidently still has a plan for them. Andre Castro had an impressive season on loan from Porto at Sporting Gijon. The midfielder impressed a lot at Gijon, quickly establishing himself as a starter.

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Rui Patricio (Sporting), Quim (Braga)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Carvalho (Real Madrid), Silvio (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Castro (FC Porto), Andre Santos (Sporting), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Raul Meireles (Liverpool), Ruben Micael (FC Porto)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Postiga (Sporting), Nani (Manchester United), Nuno Gomes (Braga), Varela (FC Porto)

Paulo Bento Names Squad of 20


Portuguese National Team coach Paulo Bento has released a list of 20 players to represent the Seleccao in their upcoming match against Argentina tomorrow. This game will be the mouthwatering showdown of two of the greatest living footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This much-anticipated game will be held in Switzerland. Some surprise inclusions into the squad were Ricardo Quaresma, who has been enjoying a superb season in Turkey for Besiktas, and Hugo Ventura, who has been Portimonense’s first-choice goalkeeper for this season. Bento’s selection of Ventura has raised some eyebrows, but Bento stated that he was only choosing players who were playing reguarly, which Ventura has. Ricardo Carvalho was originally included, but has been replaced due to an injury. Ricardo Costa has been named as his replacement. Here is the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Genoa), Rui Patricio (Sporting), Hugo Ventura (Portimonense)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit St Petersburg), Bosingwa (Chelsea), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia)

Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Benfica), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Raul Meireles (Liverpool), Paulo Machado (Toulouse), Miguel Veloso (Genoa)

Forwards: Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St Petersburg), Helder Postiga (Sporting), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Nani (Manchester United), Quaresma (Besiktas)

Almeida Proud of Real Madrid Interest


Hugo Almeida, who is currently locked in contract negotiations at Werder Bremen, is reportedly ‘proud’. Almeida has not been contacted by the club, according to him, but he is still proud, nevertheless, of the interest. Real are searching for a replacement for Higuain, who will be out injured for some time. Panathinaikos and Lazio are also interested.

Bento Releases Squad List of 23


Paulo Bento has released a list of 23 for Portugal’s upcoming games against Iceland and Denmark. This is Bento’s first set of call-ups since taking over the role of Portugal National Team Head Coach. Some notable inclusions are Joao Pereira (who has been impressing for Sporting Lisbon lately), Paulo Machado (who has made a name for himself this season for Toulouse), and Carlos Martins (who many feel should be a regular for the National side). One more notable inclusion is Helder Postiga, who has been revitalized under new Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Sergio (as evidence with the goal he scored yesterday). Here’s the full list:                             

Goalkeepers: Beto, Rui Patricio, Eduardo

Defenders: Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Joao Pereira, Ricardo Carvalho, Silvio, Rolando;

Midfielders: Carlos Martins, João Moutinho, Pepe, Miguel Veloso, Paulo Machado, Raul Meireles, Tiago;

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Danny, Helder Postiga, Hugo Almeida, Liedson, Nani, and Varela.

Probable Starting lineup:

Subs: Rui Patricio, Danny, Helder Postiga, Varela, Pepe, Rolando, Joao Pereira

Ilídio Vale Named Squad of 23


Portuguese U-20 coach Ilidio Vale has released a list of 23 players to take part in training ahead of next summer’s U-20 World Cup. This is not the final list, mind you. These are just players who will take part in a team training for the coach to see who “fits the bill”. Some notable inclusions are Rafael Dias, who currently plays for Sochaux in Ligue 1. Dias has previously played for the French Under 16 and 17 teams, but it looks now as if he may change his allegiance to Portugal. Here’s the full list:

Amarante FC: Cláudio Ramos
A Académica de Coimbra: Paulo Grilo
Benfica: Roderick
Belenenses: Filipe Paiva and Pelé
Cercle Brugge KV: Nuno Reis;
CD Fátima: Mário Rui
CD Santa Clara: Alex and Baldé
FC Paços Ferreira: Caetano and Nélson Oliveira
FC Sochaux: Rafael Dias
GD Tourizense: João Guerra and Ricardo Dias
Leixões SC: Paulinho
Parma FC: Danilo
SC Braga: Aníbal Capela, Januário and Nuno Valente
Sporting: Cédric
UD Leiria: Rúben Brígido and Michael Domingues
Varzim SC: Salvador Agra