Player to Watch: João Mário


Joao Mario - SportingWhen João Mario Naval da Costa Eduardo graced the pitch of the Stade de France on October the 13th 2014 as a substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo, every Portuguese adepto, young and old, took attention. Another stalwart graduate of the famed Sporting Lisbon academy, the young starlet had taken another leap in his career as one of Santos’ newest recruits

When João Mario graced the pitch of the Stade de France on October the 13th 2014 as a substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo, every Portuguese adepto, young and old, took attention. Another stalwart graduate of the famed Sporting Lisbon academy, the young starlet had taken another leap in his career as one of Santos’ newest recruits Continue reading

Player to Watch: Ruben Neves


Portuguese Football could be on the cusp of another “Golden Generation.” With the Under-19’s success at the U-19 Euros this summer and the Under-21’s on the brink of qualification for next summer’s Euro tournament, there is much reason to be excited. On top of that, Portugal has qualified for three out of the past four U-20 World Cups, and have impressed in the most recent two. 

To bring some of this success to light, PortugalFutbol.net has revamped our “Players to Watch” section. On a regular basis, a member of our writing team will highlight one player who has the potential for a spectacular career. We want to bring young talent out of obscurity, so as to show the true status of Portuguese youth football. 

In our first installment, Mitchell Rua takes a look at Porto’s Ruben Neves, who famously debuted for Porto 10 days ago against Maritimo at the age of 17. In that same game, he managed to score, making him the youngest player in Porto’s history to score on his debut. Mitchell has the full story below.


Ruben Neves - Porto preseason 2014-2015

On the 15th of August  2014 a boy by the name of Ruben Neves graced the hallowed turf of the Estadio Dragão in front of a raucous home crowd of 50,000 Tripeiros.

Born in Mozelos to the north of Portugal on the 15th of March 1997, the diminutive midfield lynchpin had little to no notoriety outside the youth ranks, heeding Lopetegui’s call and taking the bull by the horns with an impressive pre-season. The youngster, at only 17 years and 155 days, had become the youngest player to appear and score in a league match for FC Porto; eclipsing the likes of Fernando Gomes and Paulo Futre, legends of the blue and white.

Gomes was only 17 years and nine months old when he bagged a brace on debut. Almost forty years later, midfield dynamo Ruben Neves had beaten the striker’s record by four months, opening the scoring after 11 minutes en route to securing a 2-0 victory against CS Maritimo.

Undoubted Potential

Joining Porto’s youth team at the age of eight in 2005, Neves rose the ranks before joining Padroense FC on loan during the 2012/13 campaign, as well as for Porto’s Under-17 side and as an unused substitute in B team fixtures last season. He had similarly led an impressive youth career in the red of Portugal, with 43 appearances and 3 goals at the time of writing, earmarked by an impressive tournament at the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The Portugal skipper led his side to a semi-final berth as they were pipped by England to the showpiece final, featuring in all four of their matches. Neves, “Portugal’s captain and the man who made things tick in midfield,” was named among the top 10 talents of the tournament by UEFA journalists, “constantly prompting attack and keeping the ball circulating for A Seleção das Quinas.”

But it was the 2014/15 season that would set Neves’ name in effervescence. With the defensive midfield position now vacant after Fernando’s departure for Manchester City, ending his long service for the Dragões; Nigerian up-and-comer Mikel ruled out through injury and Tomas Podstawki’s participation in the European Under-19 Championship; Neves seized his chance to impress the new man in the dugout, Julen Lopetegui.  A string of fine performances in pre-season brought with it much acclaim; the presentation match against AS Saint-Etienne, the highlight as Lopetegui commented on “a strong mindset” post-match.

A Dream Debut

On that faithful night in Porto, the young Neves graced the pitch where his heroes had laid their claim for footballing immortality. At 11 minutes, a short Quaresma corner was played to Alex Sandro, whose cross was deflected into the path of the unmarked Ruben Neves. Steadying himself, his head over the ball; he took the shot in his stride, rifling a powerful long angled effort into the bottom corner and past Salin. The crowd was brought to their feet. Pure and utter joy was plastered on the face of a new hero as he slid onto his knees, letting out a cry of sheer elation.

“It was a dream debut, not only for my performance and goal but also for the win, which was the most important thing,” the now cult figure ascertained, his play and attitude light years ahead of his tender age; “I’m going to keep this award forever and I hope it will be the beginning of a very successful career.”

The Sky’s the Limit

There are astronomically high hopes for a boy barely out of diapers, but the plaudits are not undeserved. The opening goal of the 2014-15 Liga Zon Sagres Season and man-of-the-match performance was no fluke, with impressive performances, the following week against LOSC Lille and Paços de Ferreira as Neves became the youngest Portuguese player to appear in a European competition since none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. ;

A versatile midfielder, Neves has the tools to become a world beater; possessing an impressive arsenal of outstanding precision passing, perceptive positioning and vision complimented by maturity beyond his years. Commonly employed as the midfield defensive anchor; his tendency to play forward leaves defences reeling, with his fierce shots from distance and keen eye for the dead ball troubling keepers aplenty.

At such a young age; and with Lopetegui’s years of experience at youth level; Neves is in good hands. There’s no reason for Portuguese football fans, and the footballing world alike, to not expect the youngster to hit new heights. With record after record being toppled, and making the Porto midfield his own at the time of writing; Ruben Diogo da Silva Neves is a name that will be on the lips of football pundits worldwide atop of a list of young Portuguese talents being dubbed the second ‘Golden Generation.’

 

Mitchell Rua

Liga Orangina Youngster to Watch: Goncalo Silva


Goncalo Silva

Atletico CP

Player to Watch

Many young players who ply their trade in the Liga Orangina do so on loan from a Liga Zon Sagres club. This method is a proven way to develop young talent, by giving them playing time. One such player who has benefited from this is Goncalo Silva. Silva was picked up by Liga Zon Sagres side Vitoria Guimaraes from lower division side Barreirense. He immediately joined Lousada, playing in the third division, on loan from Guimaraes. He went on to make 28 appearances for the club, and catch the eye of the Guimaraes staff. This season, Vitoria opted to loan him again, this time to the Liga Orangina. Silva joined newlu-promoted Atletico CP on a season-long loan deal.

Despite having never played in the Liga Orangina and only being 20 years old, Goncalo Silva has established himself as an important peice of the Atletico CP puzzle. The center-defender has helped a young Atletico CP side to seventh in the Liga Orangina standings. He has appeared in all but one of the team’s matches, bringing his tally to 18 games thus far.

Given the fact that he was discovered relatively late in his youth career from a lower division club, it does not come as a surprise that Silva has yet to make a single appearance for any of the Portugal national youth teams. Still aged just 20, there is still time for Silva to make it into the Portuguese Under-21 team, and gauging on his performances this season, a call-up may not be far away.

Despite the limited time that Goncalo Silva has been on the footballing scene, he has already firmly established himself as a star for the future, whether its for Vitoria Guimaraes or the Portuguese National Team.

 

Player Ratings: Portugal 4-4 Cyprus


One of the biggest upsets ever in European Championship history happened on Friday and, of course, Portugal were at the wrong end of it. Here’s how the individuals stacked up.

Eduardo– 5.5 -Not the strongest performance by the Genoa shot-stopper. Although he let in four goals, not all of them were his fault. Should have done better with Cyprus’s first.

Bruno Alves– 5.5-The Zenit man had some good tackles, but overall was uncharacteristically sleepy at times.

Ricardo Carvalho– 6.5 -I would have given the center-back a higher rating if it wasn’t for him letting in four goals. He wore the armband with distinction, constantly making crucial tackles and smartly venturing forward.

Miguel– 4 -The Valencia full-back lacked inspiration when he had the ball. Was completely at fault for Cyprus’s first after blatantly failing to mark Anoleftis. Not a good game from him, which we have kind-of gotten used to.

Fabio Coentrao– 6 -Was solid enough at the back. He ventured forward smartly like usual, and was rewarded with some opportunities.

Manuel Fernandes– 7 -Brought a certain amount of energy to the Seleccao, which was desperately needed. You could tell that when he got the ball, he was looking for an opening. Capped off a great performance with an even better goal.

Raul Meireles– 6 -The Liverpool midfielder’s mistake gave the hosts a goal, but he soon made up for it with a vicious left-foot drive. Overall, a mediocre performance.

Danny– 5 -He just hasn’t lived up to his heroics from the pre-World Cup games. Scored a goal, but overall, did not have a good game.

Nani– 8 -The Manchester United winger has grown into an exquisite player capable of the unexpected, and that’s exactly what he showed us. Provided the cross for Hugo Almeida’s opener. Man-of-the-match for me.

Quaresma– 8 -Had a quiet first-half, but absolutely exploded in the second half. Folks, he’s back and he’s better than ever. Quaresma proved that he is capable of dribbling through anything and anyone. He has also learned how to use his left foot.

Hugo Almeida– 7 -Couldn’t do much, but the chances he got, he made the most of. Scored a deft header, and almost scored a cheeky back-heel after some magic from Quaresma. Has pretty much cemented his place in the starting eleven for Portugal, in my opinion.

Substitutes:
Moutinho– 6 -Didn’t do much, but it is nice to see Moutinho in possession again for Portugal

Liedson– 7 -Showed the caliber of player he is after he controlled a cross in the second-half, turned, and shot into the post.

Yannick– N/A -Late debut for the Sporting forward.

Queiroz Releases 50 “Possible” Player List


Carlos Queiroz released yesterday a preliminary list for the World Cup. Out of these 50 players, only 23 will make the plane to South Africa. I think that Queiroz chose wisely in this list. These are supposed to be the best Portuguese players in the world, and I think that he chose wisely, very wisely indeed. Some players, such as Ruben Amorim and Vieirinha, are up-and-coming stars that will probably make their debuts after the World Cup. One surprise was that West Ham’s Manuel da Costa was not included. da Costa has been enjoying some playing time in England, something he didn’t get in Italy.

Here’s the preliminary list:

Atletico Madrid– Simao, Tiago
Benfica– Carlos Martins, Cesar Peixoto, Fabio Coentrao, Nuno Gomes, Quim, Ruben Amorim
Braga– Eduardo, Hugo Viana
Chelsea– Deco, Hilario, Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira
Deportivo– Ze Castro
Inter Milan– Ricardo Quaresma
Cologne– Maniche, Petit
FC Porto– Bruno Alves, Beto, Raul Meireles, Rolando, Miguel Lopes
Guimaraes– Nuno Assis
Iraklis– Daniel Fernandes
Kayserispor– Makukula
Lille– Ricardo Costa
Malaga– Duda
Man United– Nani
PAOK– Edinho, Vieirinha
Real Madrid– Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe
Sporting– Joao Moutinho, Djalo, Carrico, Veloso, Pedro Mendes, Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Tonel, Liedson
Toulouse– Paulo Machado
Valencia– Miguel
Valladolid– Pele, Sereno
Werder Bremen– Hugo Almeida
Zaragoza– Eliseu
Zenit– Danny, Fernando Meira

*New Feature* Player Values


New to Portugal Football are player values. Have you ever wondered: “wow! they bought him for 4 million, thats cheap………isn’t it?”. Well, now every other month, (January, March, May, May, July, September, and November) there will be an update with the up-to-date market values of Portuguese players. There will be two vesions every update time:

1. The top 20 valued Portuguese Players Abroad

2. The top 20 Valued Portuguese Players

*all information from transfermarkt.co.uk