The Portuguese Managerial Merry-Go-Round: Summer 2015 Edition


Jorge Jesus, seen here as Benfica's coach, has taken over at Sporting

Jorge Jesus, seen here as Benfica’s coach, has taken over at Sporting

With the Portuguese domestic season now officially over, some of the country’s top clubs have wasted no time in looking for new leadership. As it stands now, Sporting, Benfica, Vitória Guimarães, Braga, and Paços Ferreira will all have new coaches for next season. And at the heart of all of this upheaval is Jorge Jesus, who scandalously chose to leave Benfica to coach their cross-town rivals Sporting Lisbon. Continue reading

Youth Round-up: U-21s Draw, U-20s Defeat Uzbekistan


With much of the media coverage pointed towards the Portuguese senior team’s match against Serbia tomorrow, Portuguese youth matches have flown largely under the radar. On Thursday, the Portugal U-21 team faced Denmark in a friendly match, and just a day later, the Portugal U-20 team faced Uzbekistan. Both teams are preparing for participation in major tournaments this summer. The U-21 team will be in the U-21 Euro for the first time since 2007, while the U-20 team will compete in their third consecutive U-20 World Cup. Both teams are oozing with talent, and while these friendly matches don’t mean anything on paper, the opportunity for team growth and improved cohesion was invaluable. Continue reading

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 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

Portuguese Liga Week in Review: Round 3


Photo: FC Porto

Photo: FC Porto

Week in Review – Liga Highs and Lows

With the closing of the transfer window it was a frantic news week for all the Big clubs in Portugal, which made for a lot of interesting reading. So here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the Liga:

FC Porto got an important win over Moreirense to start the week, which kept them on pace with Rio Ave who continues to crush their opponents, Victoria Guimaraes also kept up their impressive start, here is a look at the Liga Standings after week 3.

SC Braga won their match with Estoril which keeps them within striking distance of the top teams (Eder had an amazing goal), but both Benfica and Sporting dropped points in the match of the week, an exciting derby that had its share of High’s and Lows.

 

Champions League Draw

Always exciting to get the groups sorted out and to eye up the Euro club competition, with the Primeira Liga moving ahead of Serie A into 4th place in the Euro Country Co-efficients the Liga brand is at an all-time high.

Benfica the Liga Champs were in pot 1 so got pooled with Zenit, Leverkusen, and Monaco in Group C this is courtesy of their #5 ranking in Europe. Benfica / Zenit started out as slight favourites but the odds will increase with Monaco losing Falcao on loan, and Zenit losing Hulk to injury. The group though still looks very challenging and should make for some exciting games, we are hoping Jesus irons out his wrinkles and we take this group in style, although there might be a question where the goals will come from.

Sporting (#33) the Liga runners-up got pooled with (highly favoured) Chelsea, Schalke, and Maribor from Slovenia in Group G and they are favoured to go through over Schalke. We like Sporting’s chances if they can sort out their defence. We hope their return to the CL is a successful one.

Porto (#11) was pooled with Bilbao, Shakhtar, and Borisov in Group H probably the easiest group of the Big 3 and are favoured to go through. Although ESPN thinks Athletic Bilbao will top the group (because of their victory over Napoli) but I don’t think beating a team from the nose diving Serie A is something to get excited over. Lopetegui and PDC have assembled a very talented squad with lots of depth and it should see them easily into the next round bar injuries.

 

Transfer Headlines

Porto

With Porto losing Mangala and Fernando in the transfer window some could be concerned but PDC did well, and if anything strengthened his squad in a major way. This trend continued at the deadline with a double swoop where he signed Otavio a highly sought after Attacking Mid, and loaned Spanish midfielder Jose Campana.  To cap off the successful transfer window for Porto. They also managed to keep danger man Jackson Martinez, who was on every BIG clubs radar. The only sad news was that Varela was sent packing after a contract row, but to be fair it is probably better for him as with all the talent assembled he was going to see a lot of the bench.

Sporting

Sporting was in the headlines a lot with More Rojo Problems  thankfully the self-obsessed hype train has left the station, not sure what all the interest is in a very average defender who has played on an excellent Sporting team, and Argentina National squad, but BdC did well to get Nani in the deal (with the majority of his salary paid).

Also making the headlines was the chase for the most sought after Defensive Midfielder in Europe. The Elegant Powerhouse known as Carvalho was chased until the dying seconds with both Arsenal and Manchester United in the running. Fortunately for the fans he chose to stay, even after the sneaky Wenger offered Campbell in exchange.

Ryan Gauld the Scottish Messi also talked highly of Sporting and why he chose to come to the historic club to round out his game. More and more talented youth players are realizing that the best place to go is the Primeira Liga, as they will not only get to play in Europe but the pedigree of players turned out by the Big 3 is unheard of. Sporting being the King of Portuguese talent is renowned for their Academy.

Benfica                                              

Definitely a roller coaster ride at the deadline for the Eagles with Hernandez from Palermo (there is a Portuguese joke in there with that team name) turning down a bid to go to the Luz. Clearly he might be Abel but he definitely isn’t that bright, as a move would’ve guaranteed him some big Euro games.

To add to the misery Arsene Wenger as true to his first name was being an arse (British slang), after suggesting he needed a striker first before selling or loaning World Cup star Joel Campbell to SLB. After getting Wellbeck he then offered Campbell up in a backroom deal to Sporting for Carvalho, then at the last second balked on the SLB purchase price and didn’t even loan the player much to the anger of both Campbell & his Agent who were furious.

Fortunately for Benfica it all ended well they managed to keep two highly sought after players in Enzo Perez and Nico Gaitan as their buy-out clauses were not met and also picked up a gem from AC Milan in Bryan Cristante. The Italian Wonder Kid came in cheap at 6 million euros much to the dismay of Milan fans who took to twitter in horror, and many Italian Reporters who chided Milan Management for the blunder. To top it off Cristante even forced the transfer and requested Benfica to add more salt to the wounds. Again the appreciation for the Big 3 and the job they have done developing BIG League talent is what has all these players knocking the door down to get to the Liga.

So all in all a very productive week for the Liga let me finish with the Highs and Lows of the week:

Highs

 

  • Porto Win
  • Rio Ave Crush
  • Good Champions League draws for Sporting & Porto
  • Jackson, Slimani, Carvalho, Enzo, and Gaitan Stay
  • Cristante dumps AC Milan for Benfica

 

Lows

 

  • Benfica & Sporting drop points in Liga Race
  • Varela goes to West Brom
  • Hernandez turns down SLB
  • Benfica misses out on Cardozo replacement – Campbell via Wenger
  • Rojo still in the Headlines

Once again another interesting week in the Headlines for Portuguese Football, follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news regularly.