Portuguese Liga Week in Review: Round 2


William Carvalho - SportingWith the transfer window about to close shut in only a matter of days, the amount of news is beginning to ramp up. Orlando Mac takes a look at the big stories over the past week. 

Porto, Benfica, Sporting Win, Champions League Success, Carvalho Saga Nears an End, and Azzurri on the Cheap


It was a busy 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 for the club qualifying for the Group Stage in the Champions League. They also helped the Liga as a whole beating out French side Lille 2-0 at the Dragao (3-0 on Aggregate), boosting the Primeira Liga’s Co-efficiency points in Europe. Brahimi was a star again.

The William Carvalho story has taken another twist as Manchester United bump ahead of Arsenal, in the race for the impressive Portuguese National Team’s World Cup star. Sporting CP has dropped their asking price (although many strings attached) causing a frenzy of headlines.

Benfica in interesting news was turned down by Palermo striker Abel Hernandez. He would rather stay in Italy or move to a lower level EPL team instead. Good riddance I would say because clearly playing in a 5th rate league or not in the Champions League is better for his career.

FC Porto’s wonder boy Ruben Neves was given global attention again as FIFA posted an article praising the 17 year old on their website. Two weeks in and the young midfielder a U-17 star for Portugal has really made a name for himself.

SLB international midfielder Ruben Amorim hit the headlines unfortunately in a bad way, as he ruptured ligaments in his knee that will see him out of action for 6 months. It was a bad break for Ruben as Defensive Midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa was out with injury and it looked like he was going to get a lot of first team action in that role. Fortunately for Benfica they have Andre Almeida in the wings that could be a big star at the position.

Portuguese International Nani reported and got in action for Sporting CP helping them to a win. The bonus was that Bruno de Carvalho got Manchester United to foot most of his wage bills in the Rojo deal.

Joao Cancelo the talented Benfica fullback got a loan deal with Valencia who looks to give him some first team playing time. Cancelo was very impressive in pre-season this year for SLB and fans look forward to him taking big steps this season.

With Liverpool FC exchanging one troubled striker for another which seems fitting, AC Milan looked to replace Balotelli by poaching FC Porto’s monster attacker Jackson Martinez. They not only sent in a low-ball bid to Porto for Martinez they also wanted to make installment payments for him over a few years, in true Italian style. Someone should explain to the Italian Chiefs living in their fishbowl that the Primeira Liga is above them now, and that they will have to pay more and sell for less in dealings with the Big 3. We have 2 Big clubs (Benfica #5 & Porto #11) both hovering around the top 10 in European Club Charts they have none. MESSAGE TO AZZURRI: Enough with the tampering and lowballing Liga players.

Once again another interesting week in the Headlines for Portuguese Football, keep it locked here to PortugalFutbol.net for your Portuguese Futebol fix, and follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news regularly.

Orlando Mac

Primeira Liga Roundup: Round 1


Primeira Liga

The Portuguese league kicked off this past weekend, much to the delight of the followers of the Portuguese game. Here’s the round-up by Mitchell Rua of all the matches played this weekend. 

A Dream Debut (FC Porto 2-0 Marítimo)

FC Porto opened their campaign with a solid display against European hopefuls Marítimo in front of a packed Estádio do Dragão, capped off by goals from teenage debutant Ruben Neves Jackson Martinez.

Neves, the youngest player to start a league match for the Dragões opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, as the young Tripeiro rifled a shot from inside the penalty area past keeper Salin after receiving a deflected cross from the left.

Leonel Ponte’s men tried to respond, with Diego Sousa and Fran Sergio testing Fabiano, but to no avail, as Porto controlled most of the first-half. Oliver Torres was at the heart of each attack, with impressive ball circulation as both Quaresma and Brahimi wreaked havoc on the wings.

The second half brought an improved display as Marítimo’s resolve waned. Jackson began to rise to the occasion, with a couple of half-chances falling his way. Pontes threw on former Guimaraes striker Maazou in the hope of salvaging a point but opportunities were few and far between as the Madeirenses rued missed chances.

It was Lopetegui’s substitutes, Evandro and Tello that brought some much needed attacking penetration. The latter’s jinking run from the right and pass into the path of Cha Cha Cha was converted at the second attempt at the death as Porto got the deserved three points.

Gaitán answers his critics as Benfica break the curse (Benfica 2-0 Paços de Ferreira)

Benfica put in a dominant performance against last year’s bottom dwellers Paços in a match earmarked by the in-from Nicolas Gaitán, breaking a 10 year drought of opening games without a win.

Fonseca’s troops started the better of the two sides, wasting a golden opportunity from the penalty spot as Manuel Joe’s spot kick was saved by Artur with a diving save in potentially his last game for the Águias.

Gaitán found a vein of form sorely missed from his early Benfica days with two assists. The Argentine ran riot as Os Castores undoubtedly rueing missed opportunities as Maxi Pereira and Salvio netted a goal in each half.

The only blip on the Benfica radar came with an injury to combative workhorse Enzo Perez in potentially his last game for the club with the rumour mill in full swing over a potential transfer.

False start for Silva and co. (Académica 1-1 Sporting CP)

Sporting disappointed in their opening tie of the season, dropping two points to The Students. Os Verde-e-Brancos came into the tie having not lost in 36 years in Coimbra, and after Carillo’s header from a fine Jefferson cross it looked as if this trend would continue.

Marco Silva’s side took advantage of an Académica side under renovation, with sixteen departures and a new-look defence accounting for Sporting’s dominance, although the tie had not yet been put to bed after a flurry of opportunities to the visitors.

As the game wore on, Sporting’s stranglehold gradually weakened. Missing Slimani’s presence in the final third due to disciplinary measures, an out-of-touch William, sent off for a second bookable offence, and a Cédric injury opened the door for the home side.

In the end, Académica were able to salvage a point with from a Carrillo error as a last-gasp equaliser from Rafael Lopes sharing the points, much to the delight of the Mancha Negra faithful and coach Paulo Sergio: “There’s merit, but it’s only a point.”

Reality check for the Panthers (Braga 3-0 Boavista)

One of only two clubs outside the ‘Big Three’ to have won the league, Boavista was given a huge wakeup call against the Arsenalistas.

Six years after being demoted to the second division, and subsequently the third tier, Os Axadrezados, and former player, turned coach Petit, have a lot of hard work to do, conceding a goal to Pedro Tiba inside a minute.

History aside, the gulf in class was evident as Ruben Micael and Éder added further misery. A leaner footballing calendar for Sérgio Conceição could spell European football next season and a tilt at the coveted title that alluded them three years prior.

Guimaraes and Belenenses impress as Moreirense surprise

Belenenses and Vitoria Guimaraes both impressed away from home with 3-1 wins. Rui Vitória was “satisfied with the result” as a brace from B team graduate Hernani sandwiched a Bernard strike against Os Galos in Barcelos.

Newly-promoted Penafiel’s frailties were exposed Lito Vidigal’s Belenenses as the Lisbon-side left with three points thanks to goals from Sturgeon, Deyverson and Miguel Rosa, with Joao Martin’s penalty doing little to stop the organised outfit from Belem.

In Vila do Conde, European debutants Rio Ave continued to ride a wave of from after a solid 2-0 victory in a game with three red cards. Pedro Martins’ ten men took the lead through Diego Lopes having gone a man down, with a red card from Setubal’s Zequinha followed by Marcelo’s strike in the 77th minute, putting the game to bed. A late Manu sending off made little difference as Paciência made a poor start in his return to Portuguese football.

The biggest surprise of the round came with victory from Moreirense at the Choupana against Nacional, with Miguel Leal’s side finding the back of the net through substitute Ramon Cardozo. The former Setubal striker is known to have a keen eye for goal and he was the difference in the 80th minute as Machado’s men were left with egg on their face.

Jose Couceiro’s first game in charge of the league’s surprise package over the last couple of seasons, Estoril, ended in a stalemate. Last year’s new boys Arouca opened the scoring through Pintassilgo in the 17th minute, making the most of a Ruben Fernandes error. Estoril quickly responded; the Canarinhos scoring through former GD Chaves striker Kuca. Neither side could settle the tie, Couceiro venting his frustrations: “We created various opportunities on goal, but we paid for our mistakes.”

Portuguese in La Liga Roundup – 10/22/12


This weekend proved to be quite fruitful for the many Portuguese players plying their trade in their Iberian neighbor country. We’ll highlight how they fared this weekend. Player ratings courtesy of whoscored.com

Malaga 2-1 Valladolid 

Malaga continued their impressive season with yet another win, this time over La Liga newcomers Real Valladolid. Central to the success of the team this season has surprisingly been Eliseu. Typically utilized as a left back, Eliseu has gained prominence through his solid performances for Malaga this season. Eliseu was in the starting lineup for Malaga, while Sereno (who is on loan from Porto) started in the center of defense for Valladolid. Valladolid has done well this season, and sits mid-table accordingly. Duda was on the bench for Malaga, and entered the fray midway through the second half. Eliseu is credited with the assist, his third of the season in all competitions, after he squared the ball to Isco for the team’s first goal.

Whoscored.com player ratings:

Eliseu: 7.7

Duda: 6.5

Sereno: 5.9

Real Madrid 2-0 Celta de Vigo

Real Madrid chalked up a much-needed victory over a stubborn Celta de Vigo side. Gonzalo Higuain scored a wonderful cross-shot first for the hosts before Ronaldo wrapped up proceedings with his second-half penalty. Pepe and Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes, while Ricardo Carvalho was an unused substitute. Fabio Coentrao was nowhere to be seen, most likely due to an injury picked up in Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Russia earlier this month.

Whoscored.com player ratings:

Ronaldo: 7.2

Pepe: 7.2

Valencia 3-2 Athletic Bilbao

Two late goals spared Valencia’s blushes, as the hosts ran out 3-2 winners against a determined Athletic side. Neither Joao Pereira nor Ricardo Costa, who are regular fixtures in the starting eleven, featured for Valencia. Both the defenders were unused substitutes.

Deportivo 4-5 Barcelona

In perhaps the game of the season, Barcelona narrowly escaped Deportivo. Pizzi scored twice for the hosts, once from the penalty spot, the other by means of a brilliant free-kick. Ze Castro played the entire match for Deportivo, while Bruno Gama was on the field for a little over an hour. Diogo Salomao was substituted on to make his first appearance of the season, while Nelson Oliveira also saw time off the substitutes bench. Roderick, Andre Santos, and Tiago Pinto were nowhere to be seen.

Whoscored.com player ratings:

Pizzi: 8.2

Ze Castro: 5.6

Bruno Gama: 6.6

Diogo Salomao: 6.0

Nelson Oliveira: 6.1

Espanyol 3-2 Rayo Vallecano

Rui Fonte was an unused substituted for Espanyol, while Simao was nowhere to be seen.

Granada 1-2 Real Zaragoza

Helder Postiga started and scored as Real Zaragoza defeated Granada. This win lifts Zaragoza further away from the dreaded relegation zone.

Whoscored.com player ratings:

Helder Postiga: 7.6

Osasuna 0-0 Real Betis

Nelson started and played the whole match, as Salvador Agra was nowhere to be seen for the visitors.

Whoscored.com player ratings:

Nelson: 7.3

Real Sociedad 0-1 Atletico Madrid 

Tiago was an unused substitute for Atletico, while Silvio was nowhere to be seen.

Transfer Roundup – 9/3/12


It was an interesting transfer deadline day last Friday, with much happening in the world of Portuguese football. Joao Moutinho was at the heart of much of the news, with his transfer to Tottenham collapsing at the absolute last moment. Although Moutinho stole most of the limelight, there were still lesser-known transfers that were completed.

Tiago Pinto

Rio Ave to Deportivo

Deportivo added to their Portuguese contingent with the capture of Tiago Pinto from Rio Ave. The left-back will most likely play second or third fiddle for the club, behind first-choice Evaldo. Pinto’s move abroad comes as no surprise after two sold seasons at Rio Ave, where he established himself as an important player for the club.

Nuno Coelho

Benfica to Aris (Loan)

After making the move from Academica to Benfica at the beginning of last season, Nuno Coelho has found playing time at Benfica non-existent. In an effort to gain more playing time, he was loaned out to Beira-Mar, in the Liga Zon Sagres, and played well all season long. Now, with his situation at Benfica much the same, he has looked abroad for opportunities. The midfielder has joined Greek outfit Aris on loan for the entire season, and will hope that the experience will be a positive one.

Sana

Free Agent to Academica

Much was expected of Sana following his impressive performances for the Portuguese team at the 2011 U-20 World Cup, but an ill-fated move abroad in Spain has proved detrimental. Now, Sana has made the move back to Academica, as they attempt to bolster their squad ahead of their Europa League campaign this season. Surely, Academica will be a great place for Sana to continue his development and realize his potential.

Carlitos

Hannover to Estoril

While playing at Basel, Carlitos was being courted by some of the biggest names in Italy, including Roma and Fiorentina. He is now returning to Portugal to play for newcomers Estoril, after injuries hampered a two-season stay at Bundesliga side Hannover. His talent is undoubted, so he will surely add much to Estoril’s team.

Henrique

Academica to Blackburn

Blackburn have increased the number of Portuguese players in the team to six after their last-minute capture of Academica central-defender Henrique. After being purchased from Braga at the beginning of the season, Henrique was promptly snapped up by the English club, having only appeared twice for the Portuguese club.

Yannick

Benfica to Toulouse (Loan)

Yannick has found playing time at Benfica hard to come by, after completing his move there last season. The move to Benfica was surely a relief after his cancelled transfer to Nice, but competition has been fierce. Competing with the likes of Salvio, Nolito, Ola John, and Gaitan (among others), Yannick opted to go out on loan, to ensure playing time. He will play at Toulouse for the remainder of the season, with an option to buy.

Ukra

Porto to Rio Ave (Loan)

Porto winger Ukra has joined Rio Ave on loan for the entire season, as his options at Porto appear limited. The winger was in much the same situation last season, and joined Braga on loan for the entirety of last season. Though he was impressive when he played, he was injured during the majority of the time at the club. An undoubted talent, Ukra will surely shine for Rio Ave this season.