Paulo Bento released a 23 man squad today for the Portugal National team’s upcoming World Cup qualifying fixtures against Russia and Northern Ireland. The biggest surprise on the list was the inclusion of Siena central-defender Neto in the squad. The defender has been impressive in Italy so far this term, and has earned his first call accordingly. Pizzi and Sereno were included for the second squad in a row, and both have yet to make their debut. Hugo Almeida missed out again. Here’s the full list:
Inter Milan just won’t give up on Joao Moutinho. The midfielder has been in impressive form this season, scoring twice. In fact, Moutinho has been stellar for both the National Team and Porto ever since he made the switch to Porto at the beginning of last season. He has established himself as one of the finest midfielders playing in Portugal, and even Europe. His performances have caught the eyes of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Chelsea was said to have been interested him in the off-season, but the club signed Raul Meireles instead. Inter Milan are now knocking at Porto’s door. If Moutinho continues his great form, it is only a matter of time until a bigger club comes swooping.
Fulham’s new number 9, Orlando Sa, made his debut in a Carling Cup clash with English giants Chelsea, which Fulham lost on penalties. Orlando Sa was handed a starting spot alongside Bryan Ruiz up front, and did not disappoint. Orlando Sa showed great control and movement throughout the game. It appears that the forward has formed a great partnership with Bryan Ruiz, which will certainly pay dividends in the future. Goal.com gave Sa a 7.5/10 rating, one of the highest of the game. Orlando Sa has surprisingly been given the number 9 shirt ahead of the likes of Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele, which certainly shows the faith that Fulham coach Martin Jol has in the striker.
Everton’s 21 year-old striker, Joao Silva, scored yesterday on his debut for Vitoria Setubal. Silva, who never made a single first team appearance last season for Everton, is now on loan at Vitoria Setubal. The tall striker caught the attention of Premeir League side Everton after his goal scoring exploits in the Portuguese second division for Aves in the 2009-2010 season. Everton purchased the striker for right around 1 million pounds, only for him to play for the reserves. Meanwhile, Silva was showing his abilities well for the Portuguese Under-21 team. Everton, realizing that Silva needed playing time to continue growing as a player, sent him out on loan to UD Leiria. At Leiria, Silva showed glimpses of his undeniable ability, most notably in Leiria’s 3-3 draw with champions, Benfica. Joao Silva is now loaned to Vitoria Setubal to further his development, and it looked like it’s working. Silva headed home Claudio Pitbull’s cross in the dying minutes of the Vitoria Setubal-Pacos Ferreira match to give Setubal a 2-1 victory on opening day.
Sporting winger Yannick Djalo is reportedly at the end of some serious interest from Liverpool-based club, Everton. Everton and Tottenham were said to be interested earlier in the season, but nothing came of it. Now, Everton are reportedly launching a 4-million Euro bid for the winger, who has been in sporadic form this season, like every season. Everton, however, are in desperate need of a striker. Everton’s strikers have scored just four goals between them in the league this season, out of 23 goals scored by the team. That appalling statistic sums up Everton’s season so far, with the team relying mostly on their midfield for their goals. Everton must be hoping to put a stop to that by bringing in Yannick, who will bring some speed and flair to a hapless front-line, that is-if he plays well.
Real Madrid central defender, Pepe, is reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Barcelona, after contract discussions have slowed. Pepe wants his current salary to be more-than tripled to a 6 million euro per year deal. Real is only willing to offer him five, so the negotiations have stalled. Manchester United are looking for an experienced replacement for the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand. Manchester City are interested in everyone at the moment, but the citizens may be one of the only clubs that can meet him financial demands. Pepe has been at the heart of the Real Madrid defense this season, forging an iron-clad partnership with Ricardo Carvalho. With Pepe’s contract set to expire in 2012, it may be the time for him to leave.
Danny was the man of the match as Portugal crushed their African opposition 3-0 on Tuesday. This was the final test for the Seleccao before their first World Cup match on June 15th against the Ivory Coast. The first half looked much the same as their goalless draw against Cape Verde just two weeks earlier. News had come in before the game that Nani would miss the World Cup due to injury, so there was a slight sadness in the air. Danny, however, filled the void exceptionally well, putting in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring one and assisting another.
The first goal came after halftime as Danny latched on the a perfect Deco through-ball, took it around the keeper, and finished in the open net. Danny was involved in the second goal also. Fabio Coentrao played the Zenit man through, who teed Hugo Almeida up perfectly for the goal. The third goal came late in the game when Ronaldo’s shot was puched by the keeper right to Almeida who made no mistakes in finishing.
Eduardo, Miguel, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Fabio Coentrao, Pedro Mendes (Pepe), Raul Meireles (Miguel Veloso), Deco (Tiago), Simao (Ronaldo), Liedson (Hugo Almeida), Danny (Duda)
Tobias Figueredo, a 15 year old Sporting midfielder, has been watched by Manchester City for some time now, but the new partnership between Manchester City and Sporting has renewed the interest. Manchester City have beat out Manchester United at the opportunity to reach a partnership agreement with Sporting Lisbon. Figueredo was called up today to the Portugal Under 17 Team, and has featured for them before, so a move for the highly rated midfielder is imminent.
Figueredo spoke simply, saying:“This is big news for me.”