2015/2016 Season Preview: Sporting


Jorge Jesus's arrival at Sporting has been one of the most interesting storylines of Portuguese football for some time.

Jorge Jesus’s arrival at Sporting has been one of the most interesting story lines of Portuguese football for some time.

The 2015/2016 Primeira Liga season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Here at PortugalFutbol, we’ve highlighted what fans can expect from Benfica and Porto this season. To shed light on Sporting’s chances, PortugalFutbol has brought in Sporting expert SportingSoul (@Sporting_Soul).


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2015/2016 Season Preview: Porto


Much is expected of Giannelli Imbula, seen here in Marsielle colors, who made the move to Porto this summer.

Much is expected of Giannelli Imbula, seen here in Marseille colors, who made the move to Porto this summer.

With the start of the new Primeira Liga season now less than two weeks away, clubs are finishing their preparations for the new season. PortugalFutbol.net’s own FC Porto expert and creator of TripeiroNation, Mitchell Rua gives some extensive insight into what we can expect from the Dragons this season. Continue reading

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

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 22


Can Nani s Sporting rebound this weekend after two discouraging performances? Photo: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Can Nani’s Sporting rebound this weekend after two discouraging performances? Photo: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

It’s alive! It’s alive! After 5 mediocre to subpar weeks, my prediction record is alive! And I’m the king of the world!

OK, I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself here on Oscar weekend, but, I can’t help it – I had a great week! My overall record has improved to 21-24 thanks to a round that saw me go 7-2 with my predictions, including correctly guessing the exact score of three games. The only 2 teams that let me down were Sporting and Penafiel; THAT my friends, is quite the achievement. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.

But, I’m not naïve. I’ve experienced a 1-8 week before and I know the same thing could easily happen this week, thus sinking me like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic. I hope that’s not the case though.

I want to show you all the money – by money I mean sharing bragging rights of course – but, at the same time, I’m realistic and I expect to be brought down to Earth a little. Gravity rules. What goes up must come down.

I just don’t want to come too down. I consistently need more wins than losses if I’m going to play this prognostication game well, and, in case you haven’t noticed, I do want to play this game well. In fact, I want someone to hand me a shiny gold statue for “Best Performance by a Portuguese Prognosticator” when the season comes to a close. But that can only happen if I have more weeks like last week. And, that’s gonna be tough given the unpredictability of Liga NOS.

If the previous Valentine’s round was all about identity, then, this Oscar edition, should, appropriately, be all about drama: In the reverse matches of round 22 played earlier in the season, a man was sent off in 7 of the 9 games, radically changing the outcome in nearly every one. Now, while I don’t necessarily expect the same kind of thing to happen this time around, that fact, in and of itself, sets up some very intriguing rematches to follow.

I suspect this week, like every other week in Portugal, will be fun to watch. Get your popcorn ready; the features are about to start. Here are my previews and predictions for round 22:


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Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 21


Will Hernani return to haunt his former club?

Will Hernani return to haunt his former club?

It’s the weekend of love in the Liga NOS and around the world, and, dare I say, I’m in quite the jovial mood with regards to my predictions. But, much like being in a relationship, that feeling of warmth can dissipate rather quickly.

Now, I’m still fighting an uphill battle with a 14-22 overall record up to this point, but, things are starting to improve and I’m starting to show a little consistency in this game. Last week saw me go 4-5 for the second round in a row and, with the exception of that disastrous 1-8 result a couple of weeks ago, I’ve pretty much been hovering around the .500 mark. I don’t know about you but that’s a lot better than I expected when I decided to give this series a go.

This is a new round though – the 21st round of play in the newly named Liga NOS – and, from the looks of it, it’s going to be quite an interesting one to take in.

Last week was all about unpredictability what with all the changes in personnel over the days prior, and well, we certainly got some in the results. In particular, it seemed like no lead was safe as, of the 21 goals scored in total, 8 of them came in the last 10 minutes of the game. It was quite the spectacle and reminded me of why I love this league and Portuguese football so much.

Building on the events of the last couple of weeks, and, the idea of unpredictability itself, the theme for this week seems to be identity. Or, to put it another way – who are we and what are we made of?

This is, in a lot of ways, a make or break weekend for every team in the league. Teams like Academica, Arouca, and even Guimaraes may just find themselves sitting disheveled on the couch eating a tub of ice cream asking “What if…?” at the end of the season if they don’t turn things around as soon as possible. And, what of Penafiel and Sporting? Will they be able to bounce back and continue to play well following heartbreaking results?

This weekend, perhaps more than most other weekends, will go a long way towards determining what the league table looks like at the end of the year, and, I think many of these clubs are aware of that. So, don’t be surprised to see a number of cagey matches over the next few days. Teams will not only be looking to be cautious with their opponents, but, in a philosophical sense, they’ll be looking to discover themselves as well.

Here are my picks for this Valentine’s round of play:     Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 20


Can Marco Silva's Sporting side defeat Benfica and push for the title? Photo: SAPO Desporto

Can Marco Silva’s Sporting side defeat Benfica and push for the title? Photo: SAPO Desporto

Hello again Primeira Liga fans, and welcome to another edition of the Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP)! This weekend marks the 20th round of play, and boy, there are some exciting fixtures on the schedule. One game in particular should have your eyes firmly planted on it from start to finish. I’m sure you already know which one I’m referring to. If you don’t, you will by the end of this article.

Last week was a bit of a bounce back week for me – if, in fact, you can even call a 4-5 week a “bounce back” week – in that I rebounded after that horrendous 1-8 record the weekend before. But, if we’re perfectly honest, there really was nowhere to go but up, so, I’m not really sure I should be celebrating. A 10-17 overall record leaves much to be desired. Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 19


Paulo Fonseca's touchline ban can only hurt Pacos Ferreira's chances against Porto this weekend. Photo: Publico

Paulo Fonseca’s touchline ban can only hurt Pacos Ferreira’s chances against Porto this weekend. Photo: Publico

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. You won’t find a better analysis of last weekend’s Primeira Liga action than Charles Dickens’ introductory sentiment in his classic A Tale of Two Cities. It was as if the Portuguese soccer world turned on its head overnight: All the minnows became giants and all the winners became losers. All, that is, except for the Lions of Lisbon, who were the only top-five team to escape the round with a victory.

Depending on where you pledge your allegiance, you were either thrilled or distraught; no doubt most neutrals loved the results as they blew what was once a foregone conclusion of a title race wide open to a three team race that, if last week’s scores are anything to go by, could go either way down the stretch.

As Portuguese football fans, we were treated to a number of curious results and shock upsets that thoroughly entertained us in one way or another; as Portuguese football prognosticators, however, we were made complete fools of and left to pick up the pieces of our shattered confidence.

My confidence in particular has left the building along with Elvis: I only correctly guessed the winner of one match (Sporting over Academica) and came away from the weekend with an embarrassing 1-8 record. I now have an overall record of 6-12. Yikes. I guess my new approach didn’t pay off huh?

Something tells me I wasn’t the only one cryin’ like a hound dog when it was all over though. I mean, who in their right mind would’ve tipped Vitoria de Guimaraes to drop points at home against last place Gil Vicente, or, Benfica, Porto, AND Braga to lose to the likes of Pacos de Ferreira, Maritimo, and Boavista? It’s insanity I tell ya – insanity!

But, let’s be honest, that’s what makes betting – even just friendly betting with no money involved – fun. Nothing is a sure thing no matter how much we’d like to believe it is, and, it’s the mystery that keeps us engaged.

Speaking of a mystery, who knows how my picks will play out this week? If I have another terrible showing I might just revert to flipping a coin or pulling teams out of a hat to see if my record becomes more respectable. But, for the time being, I’m taking one more chance without literally resorting to chance. Here are my inclinations for the 19th round of play: Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 18


Ryan Gauld - Sporting

Will Ryan Gauld’s impressive mid-week performance give him a spot in Sporting’s team this weekend?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official – we’ve hit the halfway point of the Primeira Liga season! The “primeira volta” is over and done with, and boy, what an entertaining first go round it was! From the surprise ascension of Portuguese youngsters Joao Mario and Ruben Neves, to club records established by both Guimaraes and Benfica, there’s really been no shortage of surprises so far this season.

But, the more some things change, the more others stay the same: Predictably, Benfica, Porto, and Sporting all find themselves holding down the top 3 positions in the table, and, also predictably, I’m not all that good at predicting.

In my debut prognostication piece for Portugal Futbol highlighting the 17th weekend of play in the league, I foresaw a number of feisty, close encounters. Everything in my research suggested that that would be the most likely outcome, but, basing the majority – if not all – of my bets on available statistics didn’t prove to be as fruitful as I would’ve hoped. Much to my dismay, history didn’t quite repeat itself.

And that was my mistake last week: I listened to my head my more than my heart, and let myself get too caught up in the numbers. That’s a mistake that the best psychics don’t make, and, one I don’t intend to make twice.

Having said that, the foggy crystal ball I used last week did allow me to finish above .500 with a 5-4 record. That’s right – despite a number of faulty assumptions, and, quite remarkably, not a single matchup ending in a draw, I still managed to finish the matchday on top. That, in and of itself, might be the biggest surprise of all.

Something tells me we’ll be seeing a few surprises this round though. I mean, they’re bound to happen. And with a number of players still missing due to African Cup of Nations action, and, a hectic schedule due to Taca da Liga fixtures, the time for a couple of surprise results is now. So, let’s get to it shall we? Here’s my take on the next weekend’s action: Continue reading

Primeira Preview & Prediction (PPP) – Round 17


If he plays for Porto, expect goals from Jackson Martinez.

If he plays for Porto, expect goals from Jackson Martinez.

It seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it? Julien Lopetegui was bringing his brand of Barcelona tiki-taka to Porto, Marco Silva earned a promotion to manage an exciting young Sporting squad, and Jorge Jesus was foolishly putting his faith in a Brazilian named Anderson Talisca no one seemed to know much about. It was the beginning of a new Portuguese season, and, in many cities, the dawning of a new era of football.

Fast forward to today and you might be surprised to learn that months have passed since then, and, when Sporting and Rio Ave tidy up this weekend’s round of results, we will have already marked the halfway point of this Primeira Liga season.

It’s at this point that us fans of the Portuguese league should have a better understanding of our favourite teams and players, and, be confident in our abilities to predict future results. But, frustratingly, this isn’t always the case. As they say, prognostication is a tricky business…

That’s not going to keep me from trying though, and, it shouldn’t keep you from trying either. So, let’s get to it shall we? Let’s see what our psychic minds can come up with.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give to you Portugal Futbol’s 1st weekly Primeira Preview & Prediction column (or, PPP for short):   Continue reading