Cédric Seals Southampton Move


Cedric - Southampton

Photo: Southampton Football Club

Cédric Soares

Sporting to Southampton

After days of transfer speculation, Southampton announced today that they had completed a deal for 23 year-old Cédric Soares. As part of the deal, Cédric joins on a four-year deal, with Sporting Lisbon set to receive 6.5 million euros for his services. Cédric has been linked with a move away from the Estádio José Alvalade for some time now, and this move makes sense, as he will join fellow countryman José Fonte. Continue reading

Preview: Chelsea vs. Sporting


Nani will be unavailable for the Sporting-Chelsea match through injury. Can Sporting still secure a result? Photo: express.co.uk

Nani will be unavailable for the Sporting-Chelsea match through injury. Can Sporting still secure a result? Photo: express.co.uk

On Wednesday evening, Sporting travel to Stamford Bridge to take on the already-qualified Chelsea in a crunch match that will decide whether they go through to the Round of 16 of the Champions League or not. They go into the game needing just one point to qualify as the group runners-up, having beaten Schalke (4-2) and Maribor (3-1) at home in their last two Champions League games. Continue reading

Sporting Continue in Transfer Market with Andre Geraldes Capture


Andre Geraldes - Sporting

Andre Geraldes

Istanbul BB to Sporting

Sporting Lisbon announced their fifth signing of the off season yesterday with the presentation of Andre Geraldes from Istanbul BB. Sporting has been the most active Portuguese team in the current transfer window thus far, and the right-back is sure to not be the last signing. According to sources, Geraldes was signed to provide competition for Cedric Soares at the right-back position. The defender has joined on a 5-year deal for an undisclosed amount and a 45 million euro buyout clause, as is common with Portuguese teams.

Andre Geraldes began his career at Rio Ave, where he gained notoriety while on loan at Aves in the Portuguese second division. Though he never managed a first-team appearance for Rio Ave, he was transferred to Turkish first division side Istanbul BB, coached by fellow Portuguese Carlos Carvalhal. After 30 impressive appearances in his debut season for the Turkish club, Geraldes was loaned to struggling Liga Zon Sagres side Belenenses for the second half of this past season. 12 appearances later, his performances caught the attention of league runners-up Sporting Lisbon, who have promptly snapped him up on a 5-year deal.

This move raises more questions than it answers. Miguel Lopes, who is one of Sporting Lisbon’s top earners (and also a right-back) is returning from a season-long loan at French side Lyon. Though Lopes battled with injuries, he performed admirably when he was fit, establishing himself as an important first team player. It was announced that Lopes would join Sporting on their pre-season tour, which can be taken to mean that he could be staying with the club next season. If he indeed does stay, the team will have three very competent right-backs in Cedric, Geraldes, and Lopes. One will surely have to be loaned out or sold.

There have been very few transfer rumors surrounding Cedric, but his performances last season will surely have caught the attention of other clubs. Could he be the one who leaves? Or will Miguel Lopes depart once again on loan?

Paulo Bento Names 23 for World Cup Squad


Paulo Bento

Paulo Bento announced yesterday a list of 23 players that will represent Portugal at this summer’s World Cup. Seven players who were included in last week’s 30-man squad announcement were dropped. Some exclusions were predictable. Some not. Let’s look closer.


 

Final Squad

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Rui Patricio (Sporting), Eduardo (Braga)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Pepe (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Neto (Zenit), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Andre Almeida (Benfica)

Midfielders: Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), Rafa (Braga), William Carvalho (Sporting)

Forwards: Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Nani (Manchester United), Eder (Braga), Varela (Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg)

 

Standby players (dropped players): Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rolando (Inter), Vitorino Antunes (Malaga), Quaresma (Porto), Andre Gomes (Benfica), Joao Mario (Vitoria Setubal), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica)


 

Statistics

(2014, 2010, 2006)

Average Age of Squad: 28 years old, 27.8 years old, 27.9 years old

Average Caps of Squad: 35.9 caps, 27 caps, 34.5 caps

Number of Players from Liga Zon Sagres: 7, 10, 8

Number of Players from Premier League: 1, 3, 6

Number of Players from La Liga: 6, 6, 2

Number of Players from Serie A: 1, 0, 1

Number of Players from Ligue 1: 1, 1, 2


 

Analysis

Goalkeepers:

The inclusion of Rui Patricio and Beto are completely warranted. Few can argue that both Patricio and Beto are two of Portugal’s most in-form goalkeepers at the moment. Beto is coming off a successful season that saw him win the Europa League with Sevilla (and saving two penalties in the shoot-out in the final). Rui Patricio is already established as Portugal’s no.1, and his performances for Sporting Lisbon did nothing to hurt that this season, leading the Lisbon-based team to a second-placed finish in the Liga.

The last goalkeeper spot was between Anthony Lopes and Eduardo. While Anthony Lopes enjoyed a decent debut season for Lyon, establishing himself as the team’s starting goalkeeper, Eduardo has World Cup experience. During the previous World Cup, Eduardo was Portugal’s starting goalkeeper, and lest we remind you that his performances at the last World Cup earned him a move abroad to Genoa. While Anthony Lopes has an extremely bright future, and his performances this season may merit inclusion, the decision to choose Eduardo over him is one that I understand and agree with.

Defenders:

Bruno Alves, Pepe, Joao Pereira, and Fabio Coentrao are all staples in the Portuguese team. Pepe and Bruno Alves have flourished at Real Madrid and Fenerbahce, respectively. Alves played in 25 league games, helping Fenerbahce to their first Turkish League title since 2011. Though Real Madrid didn’t manage to win the title this season, Pepe performed admirably in 30 league games, firmly establishing himself as a starter. While Fabio Coentrao didn’t receive as much playing time as he may have liked, he did perform well when he did manage to get a game. According to WhoScored.com, Coentrao managed a 6.96 match rating in the 15 games he participated in in all competitions. While this is nothing spectacular, it shows that Coentrao has the ability to play at the top level, an ability he has shown time and time again while donning the Portugal jersey. His inclusion is a no-brainer. Joao Pereira is another player whose previous performances for the Seleccao merit an automatic call. Currently playing at Valencia, Pereira managed 25 league appearances, as the team only finished 8th in La Liga.

Ricardo Costa has proven himself in a Portugal shirt in the past, and though he 33 years old, he is still an important part of both Valencia and the Seleccao. This was an interesting decision from Bento. Rolando, who spent this past season on loan at Inter from Porto, performed admirably in the Serie A. Some would argue that this season was his finest of his career to date. An outcast at Porto, Rolando managed 29 appearances at Inter, a team many would argue are among the best in Europe. I think the issue of experience is the factor at play here. This World Cup will be Ricardo Costa’s third, while if Rolando was included, it would be his second. Costa also played more of a part in qualifying, most notably scoring in the team’s 1-1 draw with Israel. Moving to Russia, Luis Neto enjoyed a wonderful sophomore year at Zenit. Though the team were pipped by CSKA Moscow for the Russian Premier League title, Zenit performed well this season, and Neto was at the heart of the team’s defense, completing the season with 25 league appearances. The inclusion of Andre Almeida was an interesting one, but one that makes sense once thought about. Many have clamored for Cedric Soares, of Sporting Lisbon, to be called, and for good reason. Cedric impressed for the Portugal U-20 team as they finished runners-up to Brazil at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, then for Academica on loan from Sporting, then the Portugal U-21 team, and finally Sporting’s first team. This season, Cedric was the undisputed starter at right-back for Sporting, amassing 28 league appearances in the process. Andre Almeida, on the other hand, only managed 10 appearances in the league for Benfica. Why should Almeida be included over Cedric you may ask? This is why. Andre Almeida began his career in midfield, but has been transformed into a solid right-back. Also capable of filling in at left-back, Almeida has extreme versatility. By calling up Almeida, Bento essentially did not need to call up another left-back, due to Almeida’s versatility. This meant that there were more spots open for other attackers. Also, Almeida participated in three finals (two domestic Portuguese cups, one Europa League final). In addition to this, Almeida was a part of a title-winning team in Benfica. Cedric, while he performed magnificently for a Sporting team which managed a second-place finish, is simply not the best choice. There will come a time for Cedric, but this World Cup is not it.

Midfielders:

The core of Portugal’s midfield in Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, and Raul Meireles are all obvious choices, though some not quite as obvious as in the past. Joao Moutinho has established himself as one of the finest box-to-box midfielders plying his trade in Europe at the moment. His performances for Monaco further proved it this season. Helping Monaco to a second-place finish in Ligue 1 this season, Moutinho made 31 league appearances in the process. His performances for the Seleccao have been nothing short of wonderful lately, and many are looking to Moutinho to continue making the Portuguese midfield “tick” at this summer’s finals. Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso have lost a considerable amount of stock lately. Though they have both put in performances ranging from solid to spectacular for Portugal in recent years, their performances have begun to noticeably decline.  While Raul Meireles helped Fenerbahce win the Turkish League this season, Miguel Veloso only managed 20 league appearances, as Dynamo Kiev finished a disappointing 4th in the Ukrainian League. Even though Veloso and Meireles are noticeably on the decline, their spot is a certainty, due to prior performances. Even if they do not start, they offer a great deal of experience off the bench. William Carvalho, though he’s only appeared twice for the Seleccao, is another obvious inclusion. Carvalho’s performances this season for Sporting Lisbon have been nothing short of astounding. A virtual unknown before the start of the season, William Carvalho is now the subject of transfer speculation, most notably from Manchester United, who allegedly have a 37 million pound transfer in the works. And it’s no wonder. Carvalho won four of nine Liga Zon Sagres Player of the Month awards and six of nine Liga Zon Sagres Young Player of the Month awards. Many are clamoring for Carvalho to take Miguel Veloso’s spot in Portugal’s starting eleven as the midfield’s anchor. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise.

Rafa is a slightly surprising inclusion to the team. An extremely attack-minded midfielder, Rafa made the move from Feirense to Braga at the beginning of the season, and has absolutely flourished in Braga. Teams such as Roma and Southampton are hot on his tails, and for good reason. Though Braga’s season went south very quickly, Rafa’s performances were certainly not a disappointment. The midfielder’s inclusion naturally comes at the expense of another. Josue made a highly-anticipated move from Pacos Ferreira to Porto at the beginning of the season. A regular under Porto coach Paulo Fonseca, Josue has found playing time and form very hard to come by since Fonseca was sacked. Many view Josue to be the successor to Raul Meireles in Portugal’s midfield, but it appears that that definitely won’t occur during this World Cup. Bento’s final midfield inclusion is perplexing for most: Ruben Amorim over Adrien Silva. Adrien Silva has established himself as one of the finest midfielders in Portugal at the moment, and some would argue he’s one of Portugal’s finest midfielders. Silva is in a similar position to Cedric. Silva was an integral part of Sporting’s team which finished second in the league this season, and many are rightly perplexed by his omission from the squad. Adrien is yet to make an appearance for the Seleccao, while Ruben Amorim has managed 10 appearances thus far in his career. Though Amorim is older, he has more experience on the national level for Portugal, while Adrien has none whatsoever. Amorim, like Andre Almeida, is a much more versatile player than Adrien. Amorim can fill in at right-back aptly, and can also fit in anywhere in the midfield. Ruben Amorim was also part of a team which won the domestic treble, and also participated in the Europa League final. Though he only made 17 league appearances this season, Amorim gained priceless experience at Benfica. This is not to say Adrien deserved to be included; just that Amorim is perhaps a bit better qualified. Adrien Silva will certainly have his time after the World Cup. Not to forget anyone, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario are both very talented players with bright futures ahead of them, but with all respect to Paulo Bento, their inclusion in the 30-man provisional list is laughable.

Forwards:

Ronaldo is really the only staple in Portugal’s forward line. The forward has enjoyed yet another wonderful season, scoring 31 goals in 30 games for Real Madrid, a statistic that normally is otherworldly. But for Ronaldo, it’s just another season. Nani, Hugo Almeida, and Helder Postiga are all favorites of Paulo Bento, and though none have enjoyed fruitful seasons respectively, they still have the ability to offer something for the Seleccao. Nani’s season at Manchester United was a mix of injury and lack of form, combining into a horrendous season, even worse than the rest of Manchester United’s season. Hugo Almeida enjoyed a decent season at Besiktas, managing to put the ball in the back of the net 13 times in 31 appearances. Helder Postiga’s season was not quite as fruitful as Almieda’s, but not as disastrous as Nani’s. After moving from Zaragoza to Valencia in the off-season, Postiga established himself as Valencia’s starting striker following the sale of Soldado to Tottenham. Only scoring three goals, most notably scoring two against Barcelona, Postiga was sent on loan to Lazio, where he has struggled with injury, and has only managed five appearances with no goals. Moving to the wing position, Varela has enjoyed another successful season at Porto. The winger amassed 48 appearances in all competitions, as Porto finished third in the league behind Benfica and Sporting. Few can forget Varela’s wonder-strike in Portugal’s group stage game against Denmark at Euro 2012. His goal gifted Portugal the victory, and many will hope that similar super-sub feats can be achieved by him this summer in Brazil. The final winger included in the squad is Wolfsburg’s Vieirinha. After starting the season promisingly, Vieirinha suffered an injury that has kept out until last month. Now fully recovered, Vieirinha  managed a handful of appearances for Wolfsburg before the season ended. The final striker spot on the call goes to Eder, of Braga. After enjoying a wonderful season for Braga last season, Eder could not manage to replicate his form this season. Only scoring three goals this season, Eder never fully recovered from a loss of form due to injury. Can he find his form this summer? He might have to if/when Almeida and Postiga don’t perform. Can you sense my cynicism?

U20 World Cup Starlets: Goalkeepers and Defenders Season Update


Following Portugal’s stellar performance at the recent U-20 World Cup, many wondered whether the crop of players who went so far in the tournament would continue their form for their club teams. Let’s take a look at how the 2011-2012 season is going for each of those young, talented players.

Goalkeepers

Mika – The best goalkeeper of the tournament was swiftly snapped up by league giants Benfica, but has since found playing time non-existent. While he has appeared a couple of times for the Portugal U-21 team, he has not been as lucky at Benfica. He is currently third in the pecking order, behind Artur Moraes and Eduardo, first and second respectively.

Tiago Maia – Maia is in a similar predicament as Mika, only instead of moving to a big club in the summer, he dropped down a division to promotion-hopefuls Santa Clara. The playing time hasn’t come as easily as he must have expected, however. He is third in the goalkeeping order, behind Stefanovic and Brice. Maia has only appeared on the bench twice, and is yet to make his official debut.

Luis Ribeiro – Last but not least on the list of goalkeepers is Luis Ribeiro, currently on loan at Sertanense from Sporting. Sertanense is currently competing in the third division in Portugal, but nevertheless, Ribeiro has yet to make an appearance for the club.

Defenders

Tiago Ferreira – The David Luiz lookalike has not featured for Porto’s first team, which comes as no surprise as he is still 18 years old. He has been a regular for the team’s youth setup, and continues to be a player to watch for the future.

Nuno Reis – The U-20 captain has built off what was a successful first season in Belgium last term. The defender has made five appearances so far this season, helping Cercle Brugge, where he is on loan from Sporting Lisbon, to second in the Belgian league.

Roderick – Clearly the second choice for the U-20 team’s center defense, his pairing with Nuno Reis was one to remember. Currently on loan from Benfica to Swiss side Servette, Roderick has excelled. The defender has played in six of Servette’s matches this season, and looks to have a successful season.

Cedric Soares – The right back/right midfielder/everything else has joined Academica on loan from Sporting Lisbon for the entire season. At Academica, he has established himself as their first-choice right-back. In doing this, he has also put in a case for a starting spot in the Portugal U-21 team.

Luis Martins – Benfica coach Jorge Jesus surprised everyone when he named Martins over Joan Capdevila in the team’s Champions League squad. By doing that, he was hinting that Martins could become Benfica’s second choice left-back. He has since appeared on the bench three times, further confirming the theory that he is their second-choice left back at age 19.

Mario Rui – The left-back has joined Serie B side Gubbio on loan from Parma. Rui was snapped up by Parma in the off-season, but was immediately loaned out to Gubbio to gain experience. The defender has since made six appearances, mainly from the substitute’s bench, all the while staking a claim for a starting spot in the Portugal U-21 team.

U-21 Squad Released for Qualification Matches


Portuguese Under-21 coach Rui Jorge has named a squad of 23 for the team’s upcoming Euro 2013 qualification matches against Poland and Russia. The list includes no fewer than six players that were involved in this summer’s U-20 World Cup, which is surely a smart move by the coach, as that team has been heralded as the future of the Portuguese National Team. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Cristiano Figueiredo, Luis Ribeiro, Mika
Defenders: Cédric Soares, Ivo Pinto, João Pereira, Mário Rui, Pedro Mendes, Rúben, Vitor Bastos
Midfielders: Ludovic, André Almeida, André Martins, David Simão, Diogo Amado, Josué, Pelé, Lassana Camará
Forwards: Abel Camará, Diogo Viana, Nélson Oliveira, Rui Fonte, Wilson Eduardo

 

U-20 Quartet in U-21 Squad


Portuguese U-21 coach Rui Jorge has named the squad to face Moldova and France on September 1st and 5th, respectively. The Moldova game is the first game of Portugal’s Euro 2013 qualification campaign, so they will be hoping to improve on what has been some disappointing previous qualification campaigns. Freshly back from the U-20 World Cup, Nelson Oliveira, Cedric, Sana, and Mika have all been called for this game after their impressive performances for the U-20 team during the World Cup.

Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Cristiano (Valência), Mika (Benfica)

Defense: Cédric (Académica), Ivo Pinto (UD Leiria), João Pereira (Beira-Mar), Pedro Mendes (Real Madrid), Ruben (Marítimo), Vítor Bastos (Atlético)

Midfield: André Almeida (UD Leiria), André Martins (Sporting), Amado (Estoril), Diogo Rosado (Feirense), Josué (P. Ferreira), Saná (Valladolid), Ricardo Martins (Desp. Aves)

Forwards: Abel (Belenenses), Diogo Viana (Penafiel), Nélson Oliveira (Benfica), Rui Fonte (Espanhol), Wilson (Olhanense)

Portuguese Settle For Draw


The Portuguese National Under-20 Team settled for a draw tonight against Uruguay. Both Portugal and Uruguay controlled the game from time to time and were, overall, even. Portugal showed more possession in the first half of play, but Uruguay stepped up their game in the second half and shackled Portugal’s play. Both teams came close at times, most notably when Sergio Oliveira hit the post with a marvelous free-kick, and when Uruguay’s captain, Diego Polenta, rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort.

Overall, Portugal played a defensive, possession-first game. The service to the forwards was not always the best, with Sana to be partially at fault. Danilo Pereira and Pele both excelled in their defensive midfield duties, but they would often leave Sana and Sergio Oliveira to do most of the creative attacking work in the midfield, due to their defensive approach. By far the most important aspect of the team was the defense. Nuno Reis and Roderick were water-tight, shutting down Uruguayan advances all night. The outside backs (Cedric and Luis Martins) were solid also.

Mika, Nuno Reis, Roderick, Luis Martins, Cedric, Pele (Julio Alves), Danilo Pereira, Sana (Tiago Ferreira), Sergio Oliveira, Nelson Oliveira, Rafael Lopes (Alex)

Player Ratings:

Mika: 7 : Benfica’s new signing certainly lived up to his reputation with an assured display. He always looked confident in his handling.

Nuno Reis: 7 : The pairing of Roderick and Reis complement each other well. The defense was one of Portugal’s strong-suits tonight, no doubt because of him.

Roderick: 7 : As stated above, Roderick performed well in his defensive duties, constantly breaking up plays. His range of passing was also a sight to behold.

Luis Martins: 6.5 : Martins had a solid game defensively, but I would have liked to see him attack more.

Cedric: 7 : Portugal’s number 8 had both a solid defensive and offensive game. His runs forward furthered Portugal’s attack and gave Uruguay headaches

Pele: 7 : Genoa’s new signing met all expectations. Pele is naturally a very gifted player, and it was shown tonight. He constantly got himself out of sticky situations using his skill. Along with Danilo Pereira, He anchored Portugal’s team and supplied the link between the defense and midfield.

Danilo Pereira: 7 : Much the same with Pele, Danilo fulfilled his role well, holding the midfield down with style. The only downside to his performance was his lack of attacking.

Sana: 6.5 : Virtually Portugal’s only creative midfielder, Sana was constantly on breakaways and feeding the forwards passes, only for them to make a mess of them. It must have been a frustrating night for him.

Sergio Oliveira: 6.5 : Apart from hitting the post in the second half, Porto’s midfielder didn’t do much. He hit many speculative shots, but could have helped Sana more in the midfield.

Nelson Oliveira: 6 : Overall, Nelson Oliveira did not play well. He did not play badly, but he just had a bad game. Missed an open opportunity when Sana put him through on goal in the second half,  but he missed his shot.

Rafael Lopes: 5 : A very dissappointing performance from the forward, who just couldn’t find his feet. The only thing he did was make Uruguay’s players angry. He was nowhere to be seen for large chunks of time in the game.

Substitutues:

Alex: 6.5 : The Santa Clara man came on for the ineffectual Rafael Lopes, and did better than his predecessor. He made some good passes and generally looked good on the ball. Would be a good replacement for Rafael Lopes in the coming games.

Julio Alves: 6 : Overall a very mediocre performance from Atletico Madrid’s new signing. Mind you, he did only have a handful of minutes at the end.

Tiago Ferreira: N/A : Not enough time on the field to give a rating.