Portugal Roll Over Senegal in U20 World Cup Opener


The Portuguese team celebrates with Nuno Santos, following the team's third goal.

The Portuguese team celebrates with Nuno Santos, following the team’s third goal.

A goal in the first minute of the match and two goals in the dying minutes were enough to push the Portuguese Under-20 team past Senegal in the Seleção’s opening match of the 2015 U-20 World Cup. Martins scored 26 seconds into the match, but Portugal would have to wait until the last minutes of the match to add to their tally. Substitute Nuno Santos first assisted André Silva, and then scored a wonderful attempt of his own. 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

What to Look Forward to in 2015: Portuguese Football Edition


With Fernando Santos in charge of the National Team, the future looks promising

With Fernando Santos in charge of the National Team, the future looks promising

It was an interesting year in Portuguese football, as always. For the Portuguese National Team, 2014 saw hope slashed by a disappointing World Cup run, which was followed by a fresh renewal following the appointment of Fernando Santos. Domestically, 2014 saw Benfica lift an historic treble, while a resurgent Sporting side edged out a lethargic Porto side in the league. Teams such as Estoril and Nacional also enjoyed successful seasons. The beginning of the 2014-2015 season saw the expansion of the Primeira Liga from 16 teams to 18 teams, with Boavista rejoining the top flight after a seven season absence. Outside of Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid won the Champions League, while Tiago’s resurgent form helped Atletico Madrid to their first La Liga title in almost two decades. With 2014 behind us, it’s time to look forward to 2015; a year that will be sure to excite.  Continue reading

Mario Rui Thriving in Italy


Mario Rui in action for Empoli. Photo: Getty Images

Mario Rui in action for Empoli. Photo: Getty Images

Few of the players in Portugal’s squad which finished as runners-up at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup have experienced success. Out of the squad of 21, only two have earned caps with the senior national team, and only Cedric Soares has really shown the promise of a bright future. One player, however, is beginning to show his true colors, despite not being one of the more talked about players in the 2011 team. Mario Rui has enjoyed a successful start to the season at Empoli in Italy’s Serie A, winning a starting spot at left-back. His performances have established himself as one of the most important members of the squad. Continue reading

U20 World Cup Starlets: Midfielders and Forwards 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.

Midfielders

Pele – The midfielder joined Genoa from Belenenses before last summer’s U-20 World Cup, but due to his solid performances, Milan snatched him up soon after the tournament ended. He has since been cycled into their youth setup, currently with the U-20 team. Pele recently made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Julio Alves – Much like Pele, Julio Alves was transferred to one club, only to turn around and move again, without having even played a match. Julio Alves, who is the younger brother of Bruno Alves, was transferred to Atletico Madrid from Rio Ave. On the last day of the transfer window, however, Besiktas snapped him up. He has only made the bench once for Besiktas, but has managed to debut for the Portugal U-21 team.

Sana – The midfielder who was so instrumental in Portugal’s success at the U-20 World Cup has not had an equally impressive season. Sana only just managed his debut last week, which came from the substitute’s bench. As the season progresses, Sana will most likely become more of an integral part of Valladolid’s first team. Sana also made his debut with the Portugal U-21 team.

Alex – The Santa Clara midfielder, who most memorably scored in the final against Brazil at the U-20 World Cup, is enjoying a successful season. Alex has made seven appearances in all competitions so far this season, scoring three times. All signs are pointing to this being the breakout season for Alex.

Danilo Pereira – Pereira has mainly been playing for Parma’s top youth squad this season. This may seem a bit unfair as his performances at the U-20 World Cup suggested that he was ready to play at a higher level, but he will continue to develop while in the youth team. Pereira was called up early for the Portugal U-21 team for their upcoming matches next month.

Sergio Oliveira – The Porto prospect has been playing this season on loan at Belgian side Mechelen from Porto. Oliveira enjoyed a successful debut season last term for Liga Zon Sagres side Beira-Mar. The midfielder has played in four league matches for the Belgian team this season, and is continuing to look to impress.

Ricardo Dias – Having been released from Porto, Beira-Mar snapped up the midfielder quickly. Dias was mainly used as a substitute during the U-20 World Cup, and looks to be used similarly at Beira-Mar this season. He has yet to make his league debut, but has appeared on the bench for almost every game this season.

Forwards

Nelson Oliveira – The star of the show last summer has tried heroically to continue his form this season for Benfica’s first team, where coach Jorge Jesus stated Oliveira would spend the season. His efforts paid off as he made his official debut for the club, in a cup game. Oliveira has also made his debut for the Portugal U-21 team, and even started against Russia.

Amidio Balde – Balde has made five appearances so far this season for Cercle Brugge, where he is on loan from Sporting Lisbon. In those five appearances, the striker picked up his first, and only so far, goal for the club.

Caetano – 2010/2011 was a good debut season for Caetano. In fact, the diminutive striker was a revelation in the league last season. This season has not been as kind to him, however. Caetano has failed to find the net in the five times he has appeared this season for Pacos Ferreira.

Rafael Lopes – The striker with the afro who scored a lot got a haircut before the U-20 World Cup, and hasn’t scored since. Lopes racked up ten goals last season for Varzim, but has not scored yet this season. He has actually been quite awful.

Serginho – Serginho was transferred from Trofense to Beira-Mar at the end of the transfer window this August, but has yet to make an impact. The forward did not make a single appearance for the U-20 team during their World Cup run, even though he was integral to Trofense last season.

Liga Orangina Youngsters to Watch: Alex


Alex

Santa Clara

Player to Watch

Alexandre Henrique Gonçalves de Freitas, known simply as Alex, is possibly one of the league’s better known stars. Due to his exploits at last summer’s U-20 World Cup for Portugal, the winger has made his name known, most notably by scoring in the heart-clenching 3-2 final loss to Brazil. Alex was instrumental in the team’s success, playing in all six of the team’s matches, starting five.

Alex joined Santa Clara from Porto’s youth setup at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, and immediately cemented his spot in the starting eleven. The midfielder played in a total of 26 matches during the season, and became a very important asset to the club as the season progressed. This season has started well for Alex. He currently has a goal to his name this season, and will look to build on what was a very productive season.

Alex combines skill and accuracy to make him appear classier than one would expect for a player of his age and experience level. Actually, he doesn’t just appear classier, he is classier. Though he is a winger, he does not only possess the lightning quick speed and quick feet, like many Portuguese wingers do. What is special about Alex is his accuracy. As evidenced in the U-20 World Cup, Alex possesses a very accurate left foot and the ability to make timely, accurate runs, one of which resulted in a goal in the final.

With Alex firmly one of the Liga Orangina’s finest prospects, the big clubs may soon swoop. Porto made the mistake of releasing him, which led to his eventual move to Santa Clara. While that certainly has helped his development, it may come back to bite Porto if they choose to resign him. After his impressive performances for the Portugal U-20 team, a U-21 call-up must not be far away. It is not hard to imagine Alex playing for the Portugal National team at some point in the future, and if he continues progressing at the current rate, we may not have to wait long.

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-21 Match Report: Portugal 2-0 Moldova


The Portuguese Under-21 team has gotten off to an excellent start in their 2013 Euro U-21 qualification campaign. Goals from Joao Pereira and Rui Fonte gave the Seleccao a much-deserved 2-0 win over their European counterparts. Cedric and Pele, who both starred for Portugal at the recent U-20 World Cup, made their debuts for the U-21 team. Rui Fonte, who captained the side on the night, came close with a header, which cannoned off the crossbar. Soon after, Joao Pereira headed in a cross from the left to give Portugal the lead. Portugal came close on a few occasions, but they failed to capitalize on their chances until stoppage time at the end of the game. Diogo Viana struck a free kick, which the Moldovan keeper could just punch straight at Rui Fonte, who simply tapped the ball into the net. That was how the game ended, with Rui Jorge’s men gaining a victory that they can now build on.

Anthony Lopes, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Ruben Ferreira, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins (Diogo Viana), Josue, Diogo Rosado (Pele), Wilson Eduardo (Joao Silva), Rui Fonte

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Pele Signs for Milan


Pele

Genoa to A.C. Milan

Following his impressive displays for Portugal at the recent Under-20 World Cup, Pele has made the switch to A.C. Milan. Genoa snapped him up in the off-season, but Milan have now acquired half of his rights and get to use him next season. Pele played over 600 minutes for Portugal at the recent U-20 World Cup, and formed a solid partnership with Danilo Pereira. Those performances have caught the eye of the Italian champions, and Pele looks set to become a  Milan player shortly. There is no mention of the move on Milan’s website, but sources all across Portugal are confirming it.