U21s One Step Closer to Qualification


Ricardo Esgaio - Portugal U21 - with Luis Martins and Ricardo

Portugal 2-0 Macedonia

2015 UEFA U-21 Euro Qualification

The Portuguese Under-21 team took another step toward direct qualification to the 2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship today with a 2-0 win over Macedonia. The Portuguese can be rightly proud of how they played, having dominated the majority of the match. U-21 coach Rui Jorge took the opportunity to award four players with their first U-21 caps, with Ruben Vezo, Marcos Lopes, Carlos Mane, and Goncalo Paciencia all earning well-deserved debuts.

Rui Jorge named a strong starting eleven, with Ricardo Esgaio and Luis Martins operating on the flanks in defense, on the right and left, respectively. Paulo Oliveira, an established starter both for his club, Vitoria Guimaraes, and the U-21s, started in central defense alongside Ruben Vezo, who recently scored the winning goal in Valencia’s victory over Granada. Rui Jorge opted to play Rio Ave’s Luis Gustavo as an anchorman in midfield, with Andre Gomes and Joao Mario joining him in central midfield. On the wings were Carlos Mane, who has established himself as a starter for Sporting this season, and Bernardo Silva, who has enjoyed a wonderful season for Benfica B. Goncalo Paciencia earned a starting spot as the team’s striker.

Goals from Bernardo Silva and Ricardo Esgaio sealed the win for the Seleccao.

Jose Sa, Ruben Vezo, Paulo Oliveira, Luis Martins, Ricardo Esgaio, Luis Gustavo, Andre Gomes(Sergio Oliveira), Joao Mario, Bernardo Silva(Marcos Lopes), Carlos Mane(Ricardo), Goncalo Paciencia

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Euro 2016 Qualifying Groups Drawn


Paulo BentoUEFA announced the other day the qualifying groups for Euro 2016. Portugal were drawn with Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, and Albania. Portugal will be wary of facing Denmark and Albania again, having had trouble with the two in previous qualifying campaigns.

It is worth noting that qualification for Euro 2016 will be much easier than in previous tournaments. Euro 2016 will be the first European championship where the number of participating teams is 24, having been expanded from 16 in 2012. This translates into the top two teams in each group qualifying directly, while the third-place in each group qualifies for a playoff.

Portugal faced Denmark in qualification for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. The Danes proved to be worthy opponents, topping the group each time, and forcing Portugal to qualify via the play-off. In the four times Portugal and Denmark met in the two qualifying phases, Denmark won 2, Portugal won 1, and the teams drew once. It is evident that Denmark is not a team to take lightly. Though their momentum has slowed as of late (the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup), Denmark still packs a punch.

Serbia is another team that has the potential to cause problems for Portugal in qualification. Combining proven stars like Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolorov, Nemanja Matic, and Adem Ljajic with up-and-coming talents such as Lazar Markovic, Milos Jojic, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia is also not a team to be taken lightly. The Serbia U-19 team was victorious last summer at the 2013 UEFA U-19 European Championships, and a few of the players from that tournament have made the move to the full national team. This mix of established, world-class stars and up-and-coming youngsters give Serbia an air of unpredictability. Though they have fallen short in recent qualification tournaments (the last tournament they qualified for was the 2010 World Cup), Serbia are a much different team now.

Armenia are somewhat of an unknown entity. Armenia is a small country of barely over three million inhabitants, bordered by Iran, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The team has never qualified for a major tournament, and, frankly, has hardly ever come anywhere close to qualifying. That is, until the 2014 World Cup. Armenia was drawn with Italy, Czech Republic, Malta, Bulgaria, and Denmark. The team started off slowly, losing to Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, and Malta, but absolutely stunned Denmark, winning 4-0 in Denmark. The team then managed to defeat Bulgaria and Czech Republic before rounding off their campaign with a 2-2 draw in Italy. Though Armenia didn’t come very close to qualifying, they turned some heads with their impressive performances against Denmark and Italy, two of Europe’s top sides.

Portugal last met Albania in 2010 World Cup qualification, and though the team did not offer much competition, the Seleccao still only managed two draws (including one last-gasp 2-2 draw to keep their qualification hopes alive). Portugal tend to play down to their opponents level, which is why the team has had problems with Albania in the past. If the Seleccao can manage to play well, Albania should be no match.

Portuguese Continue Perfect Start


Portugal vs Azerbaijan - U-21

Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal

2015 UEFA U-21 Euro Qualification

The Portuguese Under-21 team continued their perfect start in 2015 UEFA U-21 Euro qualification on Tuesday with a convincing 2-0 win in Azerbaijan. Goals from Rafa and Ivan Cavaleiro were enough to ensure the victory, the third for the team in qualification thus far. Portugal has scored 10, while only conceding once. They sit atop the group, having already played (and beaten) the second, third, and fourth placed teams, with only bottom-of-the-table Macedonia still to be faced. In other words, qualification seems extremely likely.

The game began brightly for the visitors, as was predicted before the match. And that was how it continued: the Seleccao controlling the match and creating the majority of the chances. Ivan Cavaleiro was at the end of much of the flow of traffic, which is of little surprise given his burgeoning reputation as of late. Though Portugal was on top, both teams went into the locker-room at halftime on level terms at 0-0. Soon after the break, however, the scoring was opened by Rafa. Some neat interplay opened Bruma for a shot. His low shot was parried by the opposition goalkeeper directly into the path of Rafa, who could not have had an easier finish. Soon after, Ivan Cavaleiro doubled Portugal’s advantage. A neat ball over the top put Cavaleiro clean in on goal, and the winger finished well. That was how the game ended: 2-0 in favor of Portugal.

Jose Sa, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Esgaio, Paulo Oliveira, Tiago Ilori, Tiago Silva(Luis Gustavo), Rafa, Sergio Oliveira(Bernardo Silva), William Carvalho, Ivan Cavaleiro, Ricardo(Betinho)

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

U-21s Thump Israel


Portugal vs Israel U21 - Ricardo Esgaio

Portugal 3-0 Israel

2015 UEFA U-21 Euro Qualification

The Portuguese Under-21 team continued their perfect start to 2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship qualification with a resounding 3-0 victory at home to Israel. Goals from William Carvalho, Bruma, and an Israeli own goal were enough to give Portugal the 3-0 victory. The team dominated the majority of the match, and the scoreline duly reflects Portugal’s dominance. Bruma and Tiago Ilori both debuted for the team, and their debuts were impressive ones, with Ilori playing the entire match in the heart of the team’s defense, while Bruma managed to get on the score sheet. Also debuting for the team was To-Ze, who appeared for the final quarter of an hour.

Jose Sa, Tiago Ilori, Paulo Oliveira, Luis Martins, Ricardo Esgaio, William, Rafa, Joao Mario(Tiago Silva), Sergio Oliveira(To-Ze), Bruma(Ricardo), Ivan Cavaleiro

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Rui Jorge Calls on 23 for U-21 Matches


Rui JorgePortugal U-21 coach Paulo Bento announced a squad of 23 for the team’s upcoming games against Norway and Poland. The team is slated to begin their qualification campaign for the 2015 UEFA U-21 Euro on September 5, when they host Norway. The U-21s have not qualified for a U-21 Euro since 2007. Most notably, the team came close to qualifying for the last Euro, only to draw their last game against Poland, when a win could have guaranteed them a place at the finals. This time around, Portugal are in Group 8, which is comprised of Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Norway, and Israel. The group seems an easy one, and Rui Jorge and the team certainly have something to prove, after he successive failures of the past six years. Five days after the game against Norway, Portugal hosts Poland in a friendly match.

Elton Monteiro - Club Brugge

One notable inclusion in the squad is Elton Monteiro, who is uncapped at the U-21 level. Monteiro recently made the move from Arsenal, where he appeared for the reserves, to Club Brugge in Belgium. Below is the entire squad list:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Fernandes (Osnabruck), José Sá (Marítimo), Luís Ribeiro (Sporting)

Defenders: Elton Monteiro (Club Brugge), Josué (Vitória Guimaraes), João Amorim (Vitória Guimaraes), Luís Martins (Gil Vicente), Paulo Oliveira (Vitória Guimaraes), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient), Tiago Ferreira (Porto B)

Midfielders: André Gomes (Benfica), Tózé (FC Porto B), João Mário (Sporting B), Luís Gustavo (Rio Ave), Rafa (Braga), Sérgio Oliveira (Paços Ferreira), Tiago Silva (Belenenses), William (Sporting)

Forwards: Betinho (Sporting B), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica B), Lucas João (Nacional), Ricardo Pereira (Porto B), Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting B)

U-21s Narrowly Miss Qualification


Poland 0-0 Portugal

2013 UEFA U-21 European Championship Qualification

The Portugal U-21 team will be disappointed to learn that they have narrowly missed out on qualification to next summer’s U-21 European Championship. A 0-0 draw with Poland today was not enough to qualify for the play-offs, with the team being overtaken in the standings at the last second, after Switzerland defeated Estonia.

The game started off quite lethargically, with nothing of note occurring until well into the first half. Some excellent wing-play from Andre Martins set up David Simao for a shot, but the midfielder uncharacteristically made a mess of it. Though the shot was missed, it was encouraging play nonetheless. The half ended with the scores level at 0-0.

Predictably, the second half was a much more lively affair. Poland had the first chance when a well-struck free-kick was put just over. Portugal responded well, with Andre Martins going close, and then Wilson Eduardo almost breaking the deadlock twice. As the time winded down, the game winded up. Anthony Lopes had to be on alert, as Poland were barraging the Portuguese goal with shot after shot. Last minute efforts from Wilson Eduardo and Salvador Agra were not enough to break the deadlock, and the game finished at a disappointing 0-0.

Anthony Lopes, Cedric, Ruben Ferreira, Nuno Reis, Pedro Mendes, Andre Almeida, Josue, Andre Martins(Fredy), David Simao(Wilson Eduardo), Rui Fonte(Abel Camara), Salvador Agra

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Youngsters Draw Poland


Portugal 1-1 Poland (U21)

The Portuguese Under-21 picked up an unlucky point against Poland in their second match of Euro 2013 qualification. The game started off perfectly for the home side, with Pedro Mendes heading in a Josue cross to give Portugal an early 1-0 lead. That goal was virtually the first thing of note to occur in the match. Instead of dropping back in intensity as we have seen much too often, the team pressed forward. Wilson Eduardo came close after a brilliant turn and pass from Sana set him up, but he lifted his shot above the goal. Portugal then came within a whisker away from doubling their lead. A curling cross from the left was sent in, and the youngster’s deft header clipped the crossbar as it bounced out. Poland then surprised everyone when they grabbed a goal to level the scores at 1-1. Some sloppy defending and some neat link-up play gave Poland a shock equaliser. Not at all put off, Portugal continued their charge forward. Wilson Eduardo was next to join the list of misses, and his was certainly the worst. After a blatantly errant back pass from a Pole, Wilson Eduardo was one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, only to be brought down by the keeper in the box. The referee made no hesitation as he showed the keeper red and pointed to the spot. Wilson Eduardo stepped up and struck the penalty, which hit the left-hand upright post and rolled agonizingly close along the goalmouth to the opposite side. Portugal continued their dominance, but luck was not on their side. Wilson Eduardo tried two speculative efforts, but they fizzed wide and high, respectively. After Diogo Viana’s well-struck free kick was saved by the Polish goalkeeper, Andre Almeida came agonizingly close to sealing the win for the Seleccao. A fine cross was sent in from the right, which picked up Andre Almeida’s run perfectly. The midfielder’s header cannoned back off the upright. That miss summed up the night for Portugal, who just couldn’t find Lady Luck. The final score: 1-1. Portugal may not have won, but the skill and understanding of the players is an encouraging sign. With some work, this team has the ability to be great.

Mika, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Mario Rui, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins(David Simao), Sana(Nelson Oliveira), Josue, Wilson Eduardo(Diogo Viana), Rui Fonte

Sporting Starlet Tracked by City and Chelsea


Sporting youth academy player Bruma is apparently a target for Manchester City and Chelsea. The speedy winger has been dubbed “the new Ronaldo” and is one of the more promising players currently enrolled in the academy. Bruma, who is currently 15, is celebrating his 16th birthday on the 24th. Because he is now turning 16, he will be eligible for a professional contract. Bruma started all three of the Portugal U-17 team’s group stage matches at this last summer’s UEFA U-17 Championship. Since then, still at age 15, he has gone on to be a regular for the Portugal U-19 team. It’s no wonder that some of the top teams in the world are after him.

Portugal Handed Group of “Death”


The Portuguese Under-17 team is pitted against Spain, France, and Switzerland in this May’s 2010 UEFA Under-17 Championship. Liechtenstein host the finals tournament, which will be held between the 18th and the 30th of May. Spain won the 2007 and 2008 editions of the tournament, so they’re going to be our biggest threat. Switzerland reached the semi-finals last year, and France was in the 2008 final, so that is why the Portuguese Under-17 coach appropriately dubbed our group the group of death. But even if we don’t do well, this is the first UEFA Under-17 championship we have qualified for since 2004, so that in itself is an accomplishment.