Posts Tagged ‘Cedric Soares’

CnKEAjDXEAAkm7A.jpg large

Portugal’s uncompromising style of play did not win them much admiration among neutral fans or the media but it was undoubtedly effective. Much credit should go to manager Fernando Santos who engineered a victory by utilizing the full strength of his squad. Football Factory rated each player on their performance over the entire tournament.

Goalkeepers

Rui Patricio He was not always busy but proved to be solid when called upon. He made a crucial stop in the penalty shootout against Poland. And he made several quality stops against France in the final. Named Best Goalkeeper at the tournament. Patricio is currently enjoying the best period of his career. 9

Eduardo Did not play.

Anthony Lopes Did not play.

 

Defenders

Raphael Guerreiro He was probably Portugal’s most consistent outfield player. The French-born Guerreiro provided the cross for Cristiano Ronaldo’s header against Wales. He was deservedly named to the team of the tournament. 8

Eliseu He filled in for Guerreiro against Hungary and Poland. The Benfica left-back looked much improved in his defensive duties, although he did not offer much in attack. 6

Pepe The Real Madrid man began the tournament with a poor display against Iceland and Hungary in the group stage. However, he was near flawless in the knockout stages.  A thigh injury kept him out of the semi-finals. But he returned in time to face France and put in a Man-of-the-Match performance for his country. Named to the Team of the Tournament. 8

Ricardo Carvalho The 38-year-old has been a solid contributor since returning to the international scene following Fernando Santos’ appointment. He looked slightly out of step especially in the 3-3 draw against Hungary. He was dropped in favour of Jose Fonte for the knockout stages. 6

Jose Fonte One of the great stories in this squad. The former Sporting CP academy graduate only made his international debut less than two years ago at the age of 30. He replaced Ricardo Carvalho against Croatia and was solid the rest of the way. 7

Bruno Alves He filled in admirably for the injured Pepe in the semi-final against Wales. 6

Cedric Soares Took over for Vieirinha against Croatia. His crucial mistake in the early stages against Poland led to the Robert Lewandowski goal. However, the Southampton right-back did not hang his head. Instead, he would be one of Portugal’s best performers the rest of the way. 7

Vieirinha The biggest disillusionment of this tournament for Portugal. He failed to provide sufficient cover on the Iceland goal in the first match. He was ineffective in attack and at times, a liability on defense. Santos rightly dropped him in favour of Cedric. 5

 

Midfielders

William Carvalho The holding midfielder replaced Danilo against Austria and put in an outstanding performance helping to drive the attack while supporting the Portuguese backline. Although he made less of an impact from then on, he still provided the stability the team needed. 7

Danilo Pereira The FC Porto midfielder suffered a back injury in the match against Iceland and lost his position in the starting XI to William.  Although, he would make a valuable contribution as a substitute. He filled in for the Sporting midfielder as a starter in the semi-final against Wales and even came close to scoring on one occasion. 6

Renato Sanches Named Best Young Player in the tournament. His long run in extra time against Croatia led to Quaresma’s goal. He scored the tying goal against Poland. Although, he was less of a factor against Wales and in the final. Still, he only added to his burgeoning reputation. It will be almost impossible to top the year he has had. 7

Andre Gomes He earned a starting spot against Iceland and put in an excellent display, creating the goal scored by Nani. But, his injury against Croatia would greatly limit him. He made a positive substitute appearance against Wales but did not appear in the final. 6

Adrien Silva The Sporting captain made his debut in the tournament against Croatia. He earned Fernando Santos’ confidence with some impressive performances on the way to the final. Unselfish, hardworking and tough, he embodies Portugal’s championship-winning side more than anyone. 7

João Moutinho A starter at the beginning of the tournament, the Monaco midfielder was not at his best in the group stage. He was forced to withdraw at half-time against Hungary due to an injury. However, he came in as a late substitute against Poland and provided a dangerous through-ball to Ronaldo, who could not capitalize. He made a major impact as a substitute in the final, helping to create the winning goal. 7

João Mário Much was expected of the Sporting midfielder at the beginning of the tournament. He was noticeably quiet against Iceland and was dropped in favour of Quaresma in the second match. Back as a starter against Hungary he provided an assist on Cristiano Ronaldo’s back-heel goal. His decision-making left much to be desired at times in the knockout stages but he was much better in the final. 7

 

Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo The Portuguese captain was not always at his best in this tournament. He was a frustrated figure against Iceland and Austria but silenced his critics with a brace against Hungary. He was decisive again in the semi-final against Wales. His tournament seemed destined to end once again in tears when he was forced to withdraw in the final because of a knee injury. But, his teammates rallied around his absence and handed him that elusive championship at international level.  8

Nani The 29-year-old rebuilt his damaged reputation. He finished tied with the team-lead in goals with three and added an assist on Sanches’ goal against Poland. He did all that while playing out of position. His move to Spanish club Valencia was finalized during the tournament.  8

Ricardo Quaresma At 32, the journeyman winger looks to have finally come into his own on the international scene. He was generally ineffective in his only start of the tournament against Austria. However, he proved to be a valuable option off the bench, scoring a late goal against Croatia and then putting away the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Poland. 7

Rafa Silva He was originally expected to play a more prominent role. However, the Braga winger was limited to a short cameo in the late stages of the draw against Austria. He looked dangerous but was not able to break the deadlock. He is one for the future.  Incomplete

Éder Just weeks ago at pre-tournament friendlies the striker was whistled at by Portuguese fans every time he touched the ball. He made short substitute appearances against Iceland and Austria before the final. In a tournament of ample drama and great storylines for Portugal, it seems almost fitting that ‘the ugly duckling’ would score the most famous goal in the country’s history. 7

 

Manager

Fernando Santos He will never earn style points from the mainstream media but the 61-year-old found a way to win. By preaching unity and sacrifice above all, Santos got the most out of his players. He seemed to know how to make changes at the right time. Bringing on Sanches early in the second-half against Croatia and Éder in the final, seemed insane at the time but paid off enormously. 10

Sporting Fans

Sporting got their season off to a positive start by beating city-rivals Benfica in the Portuguese Super Cup at Algarve Stadium on Sunday.

It was an absolute storybook beginning to life at Sporting for manager Jorge Jesus. His precipitous departure from Benfica in the summer added a touch of drama rarely seen at the Portuguese Super Cup.

After the win, the Portuguese manager was uncharacteristically modest, deciding instead to credit his players for winning the match.

“The big winner is Sporting and its players. It is not easy for a club to come together like that in five weeks. It demonstrates the intelligence of these players,” he said.

The match itself lacked the intensity and rhythm of a typical Lisbon derby. There were few chances and ended with a solitary goal by André Carrillo. Sporting striker Teó Gutiérrez had a goal wrongfully ruled out for offside in the first half. Early in the second, Carrillo’s shot from distance was deflected off Gutiérrez into the goal.

Sporting controlled the balance of play for most of the match and were deserving winners in the end. João Mário was behind many of the club’s attacks. The 4-4-2 system seemed to work for the club, at least on Sunday. The Lions were able to keep the pressure on Benfica throughout.

The match sets the stage for both clubs this season. Jorge Jesus was brought to Sporting to win titles and did so in his first match, albeit a rather meaningless one. For Benfica and new manager Rui Vitoria, the pressure continues to mount. Right-back Nélson Semedo was a surprise addition to the Benfica line-up and was impressive. He could be a player to watch this season.

Big three load up

Portuguese clubs continue to bolster their line-ups. Last week, Benfica signed Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou on loan from English club Fulham. He will be counted on to replace Lima who left for Qatar in July.

Not to be outdone, Sporting signed Italian international midfielder Alberto Aquilani to a three-year contract. The 31-year-old arrives on a free transfer. The Lions also added 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder Bruno Paulista from Bahia. Sporting were in talks to sign Kevin-Prince Boateng last week but the Ghanaian failed his medical.

Sporting also loaned Miguel Lopes to La Liga club Granada. The club will play CSKA Moscow in their Champions League play-off on 18 August and 26 August.

At the Dragão, FC Porto added volatile Italian-Argentinian striker Dani Osvaldo. He was released by Southampton last season. Aly Cissokho has also joined the club on loan from Aston Villa. This will be his second spell with the club. They start their season at home against Vitória Guimarães on Saturday.

Young stars shine again

Bernardo Silva continues to amaze. The 21-year-old was inexplicably left out of Monaco’s starting XI on Saturday against Nice. After his club went down, he was subbed in and scored early in the second half. They would come back and win 2-1. On Monday, it was announced that the youngster has signed an extension with the club until 2020.

Fellow U21 star, Ivan Cavaleiro also appears to be settling in well at the principality since arriving in the summer. He scored a brilliant goal against BSC Young Boys in their third-round Champions league playoff, helping them advance.

And on Sunday, Portuguese right-back Cédric Soares had a dream debut for Southampton against Newcastle United. In the first half, he delivered a perfect cross to Graziano Pellè to put his club ahead. The match would end in a 2-2 draw.

Adrien Silva/Sporting

Adrien Silva/Sporting

Portugal’s group stage exit at this summer’s World Cup further highlighted the need to inject some youthful vigor into the squad. But it was their Euro 2016 qualifying stage defeat to minnows Albania that has proven to be a watershed moment.

The loss precipitated the removal of Paulo Bento as manager. But the squad has looked disjointed, unmotivated and generally lacking in new ideas for some time now. Newly-appointed Fernando Santos will be entrusted with the task of getting this talented group of individuals winning again.

A Selecção is still blessed with a reliable core of veterans in Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho and Nani. And for the first time in several years, the country is producing a plethora of promising youngsters that are just beginning to emerge as viable options.

The problem is that many of these young players are not ready to make the big leap into international football. This is at least partly due to the fact that several Portuguese clubs have neglected academy players in recent years. But there are several promising Portuguese young players that could step in and make an immediate impact during this qualifying campaign.

Rúben Vezo, Centre Back, Valencia FC

The 20-year-old defender first came to prominence last season with Primeira Liga club Vitória Setúbal. After less than a dozen matches with the club, Vezo was signed by Spanish giants Valencia. After moving over to La Liga in January, Vezo only made a few appearances. But this season, Vezo is getting a chance to start under Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo and has done well so far.

Centre-back will be a particular area of concern for Fernando Santos. Of the four that Paulo Bento took to Brazil, only Zenit’s Luis Neto was under the age of 30. But Portugal does have many promising youngsters in the position. Liverpool’s Tiago Ilori should receive more playing time while on loan at Bordeaux. Nacional’s Miguel Rodrigues and Sporting’s Paulo Oliveira are promising as well. But it is Ruben Vezo who appears to be the most ready to step in.

Cédric Soares, Right-Back, Sporing Lisbon

A member of the Portugal squad that lost in the U-20 World Cup finals to Brazil in 2011. Since then, the Sporting product has had a successful loan spell at Academica. And he has established himself as a regular starter at right-back for Sporting. Cedric has received one selection for A Selecção but is yet to receive a cap. A rib injury likely prevented him from being selected for the Albania match. Instead, Paulo Bento went with Valencia’s Joao Pereira, who has fallen out of favour at Valencia.

It is reasonable to think that Cedric will begin to see regular selection soon. Pereira barely played in the pre-season and appears unlikely to break into the Valencia line-up anytime soon. Benfica’s Silvio is still recovering from a broken leg. While Andre Almeida is reliable, but does not provide the offensive prowess that Cedric does. He appears to be the natural choice right now.

William Carvalho, Defensive Midfielder, Sporting Lisbon

Paulo Bento’s decision to go with Miguel Veloso in the holding midfield position at the World Cup was emblematic of everything that was wrong with A Selecção in Brazil. Bento finally handed Carvalho a start in the final group match against Ghana. Carvalho was named the Best Revelation in the Primeira Liga last season. And some felt that he was unfairly passed over for Player of the Year.

Carvalho was linked with a move to several big Premier League clubs this summer, but remains at Sporting Lisbon for now. He is often compared with former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira. And their styles are not dissimilar. Although not blessed with much pace, Carvalho relies on positioning and an impressive ability to read the game. He is good in the air and has also showed an ability to deliver good long balls.

Adrien Silva, Central Midfielder, Sporting Lisbon

The Sporting Lisbon midfielder has been selected twice for Portugal but never received a cap under Paulo Bento. The French-born Silva has been one of Sporting’s most consistent performers over the last few seasons. At 25-years-old, he is the oldest player on this list. However, he also happens to be the most ready to step in and make a difference with A Selecção .

Silva may not have the offensive up-side of other young Portuguese midfielders like Marcos Lopes, Andre Gomes and Bernardo Silva. However, what he can offer is experience and a better overall game. The Sporting midfielder has been playing consistently for several years now. He appears set to inherit Raul Meireles’ position at the heart of Portugal’s midfield. A box-to-box midfielder, he is primarily known for his tackling ability and energy.

Bruma, Winger, Galatasaray

The former Sporting Lisbon winger did not have the best first season in Turkey. He struggled to find playing time with then Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini. He would eventually suffer a serious knee injury in January that would rule him out for months. But Bruma has had a positive start to this season, and finally appears set for his breakout campaign.

Bruma will find it difficult to earn a starting position with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani holding down Portugal’s two spots on the wing. But he could be used as a substitute, particularly in the later stages of the game. Bruma has demonstrated at youth level that he has excellent finishing ability. With Portugal’s striker situation far from being resolved, Bruma could provide some much needed goals.

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 10 Portuguese Players Who Could Break Out This Season

PLAYER PROFILE: Sporting Lisbon’s Adrien Silva Is Finally Living Up To His Potential

William Carvalho Could Start In Brazil

William Carvalho Could Start In Brazil

The World Cup is still just over three months away and already many analysts and fans are trying to predict who Paulo Bento will bring to Brazil this summer.

The Seleção manager is expected to make his official announcement on May 19th, just before the squad re-convenes in Cascais for training. Portugal’s 5-1 defeat of Cameroon on March 5th in Leiria only raised expectations ahead of world football’s greatest event.

For most of Portugal’s recent World Cup qualifying campaign Paulo Bento relied on a group of experienced veterans that have been with the squad since he took over in 2010.

The Portugal manager has been criticized for being too conservative with his selections, while not recognizing the age and decline of several of his key players.

But in recent matches, Bento has showed signs that he may be ready to bend, calling up FC Porto midfielder Josué, Benfica defender Andre Almeida, Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho, among others.

Against Cameroon, Bento surprised everyone by starting Sporting Braga’s Rafa Silva and Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro up-front with Cristano Ronaldo. This added to the perception that Paulo Bento is ready to embrace Portugal’s emerging generation of talent.

Here now is a list of 15 young players that could be on Portugal’s World Cup squad in Brazil.

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

The 23-year-old goalkeeper has been in excellent form this season for the French club. A serious back injury threatened to derail his World Cup dream in November, however, he has since recovered and resumed his position as Lyon’s number one goalkeeper.

Lopes received his first international call-up in September but is yet to receive a cap. However, he was selected for the recent friendly against Cameroon. Lopes is likely to face competition from FC Sevilla’s Beto and Sporting Braga’s Eduardo for one of the two positions behind Rui Patricio.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Olympique Lyonnais Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes Hopes To Realize World Cup ‘Dream’

André Almeida, Benfica, Right-Back/Defensive Midfielder

A very dependable and versatile player, who has seen his playing time at Benfica dramatically reduced this season. The 23-year-old is most comfortable on the right side, but could also play left-back and in midfield. Although, he is limited on the offensive side of the ball.

Almeida played very well for Portugal in two World Cup qualifiers in October in place of the injured João Pereira. However, he was not selected against Cameroon. Portugal are very deep at the full-back positions and it seems unlikely that Almeida will be going to Brazil.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s André Almeida Breaks Through

Cédric Soares, Sporting Lisbon, Right-Back

An offensively gifted full-back that has been a major part of Sporting Lisbon’s success this season. The 22-year-old is widely considered as a future star for the Selecção. He received his only international call-up in October 2013 but did not play.

Soares’ situation is the same as André Almeida. Despite João Pereira’s poor season, he is still widely expected to start in Brazil. Miguel Lopes, Antunes and Sílvio are all more experienced alternatives. But the Sporting right-back is one for the future.

Related Post: PLAYER PROFILE: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

Tiago Ilori, Liverpool (On Loan at Granada), Central Defender

The 21-year-old moved to Liverpool this summer after some excellent displays at the end of last season with Sporting Lisbon. He did not see any action with the English club in the first half of that season and was sent on loan to La Liga club Granada.

Portugal does not have a lot of depth at the centre of defence. Pepe and Bruno Alves are both over the age of 30. Ilori is a top-level prospect and if he could manage to put together some consistent performances for Granada, Paulo Bento could decide to bring him to Brazil.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Central Defender Tiago Ilori

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon, Defensive Midfielder

William Carvalho’s place on the squad is an almost certainty. If he stay healthy, it is only a question of whether he will start in Brazil or not. The 21-year-old has been a revelation for Sporting Lisbon this season and has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer.

Carvalho received his first cap in the deciding leg of a World Cup qualifying play-off against Sweden in November. The youngster was brought on to help preserve the lead. He received his first start against Cameroon and earned rave reviews with his performance. Whether it is a direct result of Carvalho or not, Portugal looked more organized and stable defensively than they had throughout qualifying.

Related Post: Scout Report – William Carvalho

Josué, FC Porto, Attacking Midfielder

A talented midfielder, who has also been used as a winger at times this season with Porto. Josué is a modern playmaker who has great vision, passing ability and a strong sense of the game. However, he has a history of disciplinary issues, including a suspension for spitting earlier this season.

He received his first cap with Portugal against Israel in October. He started his first match with the Selecção just days later against Luxembourg and played very well. Since then, Josué has been regularly selected for the squad. He has received four cap with Portugal so far.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Paços de Ferreira’s Playmaker Josué

Adrien Silva, Sporting Lisbon, Central Midfielder

Adrien Silva is an interesting case. As Sporting Lisbon’s manager, Paulo Bento gave Adrien Silva his senior debut in 2007. Since then, the French-born Silva has been on loan twice. He has been integral to Sporting’s success this season and was recently named his club’s Player of the Year for 2013.

Adrien was selected in September 2013 as an injury replacement for Ruben Micael but did not receive a cap. Portugal’s depth in midfield means that he is unlikely to be selected for Brazil. His name has been around so long that many forget that he is only 24-years-old. His time may not have arrived, yet.

Related Post: PLAYER PROFILE: Sporting Lisbon’s Adrien Silva Is Finally Living Up To His Potential

André Martins, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

Sporting Lisbon’s midfield ‘brain,’ André Martins has been behind many of the club’s scoring chances this season. Martins is probably the closest thing that Portugal has to a ‘pure’ playmaker. He possesses strong offensive instincts, combined with excellent passing and an ability to control the match.

The 24-year-old has received two caps with Portugal but has not been selected since August 2013. Like several players on the list, Martins will likely be a victim of Portugal’s depth in midfield. But with Raul Meireles and Ruben Amorim aging, it is realistic to think that Martins’ days with the Selecção are not too far away.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Promising Midfielder André Martins

André Gomes, Benfica, Central Midfielder

Another supremely talented midfielder, 20-year-old André Gomes has not seen very much first-team action with Benfica this season. Although he has continued to play regularly and produce for Benfica B in the second division. Gomes will need to work his way back into Jorge Jesus’ line-up to have any chance of going to Brazil.

He received his only call-up to the Selecção for an international friendly with Ecuador in February 2013 but did not see any action. The young midfielder was a hot commodity during the January transfer window before his rights were sold to a third-party investment fund. He is certainly one to watch for the future.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica Midfielder André Gomes Is Being Pursued By Europe’s Top Clubs

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

The 20-year-old was signed by Braga from second division Feirense last summer. Expected to play a limited role, Rafa played himself into a regular starting position this season. He has speed, vision, as well as excellent dribbling and passing ability.

Paulo Bento played Rafa and Ivan Cavaleiro alongside Cristiano Ronaldo against Cameroon on March 5th. He would play the entire first half, making two very good attempts on goal. However, he aggravated a thigh injury during the match and is expected to be out for six weeks. He should be back playing well before the squad is chosen on May 19th.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Braga Midfielder Rafa Silva Is A Potential Future Star

Ivan Cavaleiro, Benfica, Winger

The young winger began this season with Benfica B in the second division. His performances earned him some first-team action. However, since the New Year Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has not used him very much. Eduardo Salvio’s return from injury, combined with Benfica’s title aspirations could mean that Cavaleiro will not play very much before the World Cup.

Cavaleiro had a nervous first-half against Cameroon, but did manage a beautiful back-heel assist to Fábio Coentrão for Portugal’s third goal in the 5-1 win. The Selecção has several of their regular wingers injured, including Nani and Zenit St.Petersburg’s Danny. Paulo Bento could be tempted to take Cavaleiro to Brazil.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro Is Hoping To Break Into The Senior Squad

Bruma, Galatasaray, Winger

The extremely promising Bruma arrived on the scene a year ago with Sporting Lisbon. After a contract dispute this summer, the youngster left for Turkey. He won the Silver Shoe at the 2013 U-20 World Cup, scoring five goals in four matches. He had a positive start to the season with Galatasaray before suffering a serious knee injury in early January.

In October, Bruma was call-up by Paulo Bento as a replacement for the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal’s final World Cup qualifying match against Luxembourg. However, he was not selected for the Sweden matches in November. Bruma is expected to be out a while longer and faces a race against time just to be ready for Brazil.

Related Post: PLAYER PROFILE: European Giants Chase Sporting Lisbon’s Bruma

Carlos Mané, Sporting Lisbon, Winger

A speedy, skilled winger who has worked his way into more playing time with Leonardo Jardim’s squad in recent weeks. The 19-year-old has earned accolades for scoring some excellent goals this season as well. He has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United this summer.

Mané has yet to receive a call-up to the Selecção but it would be foolish rule it out. Paulo Bento’s change of heart regarding young players on the squad could mean that there is room for Mané. He suffered a thigh injury in a recent match for the U-21 squad which is not expected to keep him out for long. If he continues to play regularly for Sporting, Mané could just earn a spot.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Carlos Mané Scores Brilliant Goal Against Marítimo

Nélson Oliveira, Benfica (On Loan at Stade Rennais), Striker

A Wild Card at the striker position for Portugal. Oliveira first came to prominence at the 2011 U20 World Cup for Portugal. Currently on loan in Ligue 1, he started the year positively but has not scored since November 2nd. He was selected for Euro 2012 but has not been part of the squad for the last several matches.

Paulo Bento has demonstrated a lot of faith in the 22-year-old in the past. He is currently battling a thigh injury which could keep him out weeks. There is still time for Oliveira to demonstrate that he is ready to produce on the international level. But he needs to start scoring again.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Benfica Striker Nélson Oliveira Officially Joins Rennes On One-Year Loan Deal

Fábio Coentrão Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Cropped/Ludovic Péron

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Cropped/Ludovic Péron

Portugal has always had a great deal of depth at the full back positions. Ahead of the World Cup next year, Paulo Bento has several hard choices to make.

Fábio Coentrão and João Pereira have commanded the flanks for most of Paulo Bento’s time as Portugal manager, with their bursts of speed and sound offensive instincts.

However, early season injuries, combined with a loss of playing time at their respective clubs have many people doubting whether both will be ready for Brazil.

Futebol Factory looks at the full back position for Portugal.

Tickets Booked: Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), João Pereira (Valencia)

On The Bubble: André Almeida (Benfica), Vitorino Antunes (Málaga), Cédric Soares (Sporting Lisbon), Sílvio (Benfica), Miguel Lopes (Olympique Lyonnais)

For most of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Fábio Coentrão and João Pereira have occupied the full back positions with Portugal, with the exception of injuries or suspensions. However, both have been battling injuries and inconsistency so far this season which has caused them to miss action.

Real Madrid’s Coentrão is currently sidelined with a thigh injury. Also, despite being one of Portugal’s best performers over the last several years he has not always been first-choice with Real Madrid. José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti have at times favoured Brazilian Marcelo at left-back.

The 25-year-old has struggled to replicate the form he had with Benfica, perhaps due to the more defensive-minded managers at Real Madrid. Although, recent reports have him signing an extension with the club which could mean more playing time.

Valencia’s João Pereira is also trying to regain his form after suffering a thigh injury last month. Also, the 29-year-old’s performances for the Selecção have not been great over the last year. He will need to improve because there are several good alternatives at right-back.

Benfica’s André Almeida filled in for Pereira in two World Cup qualifiers against Israel and Luxembourg last month and played very well. However, he regularly splits playing time with defensively challenged Maxi Pereira at Benfica which is a concern.

Málaga’s Vitorino Antunes has played very well in place of Coentrão in recent matches and it appears likely that a place in the squad is his to lose.

Sílvio, who is currently on loan with Benfica from Atlético Madrid, is known for his excellent crosses and is good defensively, but is often injured. He recently missed several weeks with a serious knee injury but is back playing. He could play on both the left and the right.

Miguel Lopes has received some caps under Paulo Bento although not since the early stages of 2014 World Cup qualifying. He is currently on loan with Ligue 1 club Lyon from Sporting Lisbon. Like Silvio, he has also battled injury problems throughout his career. But he is back playing again.

And Sporting Lisbon’s Cédric Soares is an offensively gifted right back who has been selected in the past. Although he is yet to receive his first cap for Portugal.

Related Posts:

THE GOALKEEPERS: Who Will Represent Portugal At The World Cup In Brazil?

THE CENTRE BACKS: Who Will Represent Portugal At The World Cup In Brazil?

FEATURE: 10 Portuguese Players Who Need To Improve Before The World Cup

FEATURE: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s André Almeida Breaks Through

TRANSFER WINDOW: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

PLAYER PROFILE: Vitorino Antunes Receives Portugal Call-Up

TRANSFER WINDOW: Sílvio Not Named To Atlético de Madrid Squad And Is Expected To Join Benfica

Portugal-National-team-euro-HD-wallpaper-2012

A Seleção will need to defeat Sweden in a decisive playoff in order to book their tickets to next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Paulo Bento’s squad will face Sweden in the first-leg at the Estádio da Luz on November 15th, followed by the return leg at the Friends Arena in Solna, Stockholm four days later.

Manager Paulo Bento continued the trend from recent matches by selecting new players to the squad. Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho was selected for the first time after some terrific displays this season that have earned him attention from major European clubs.

19-year old winger Bruma has also earned a position on the squad. He was previously called up as an injury replacement in Portugal’s last qualifying match against Luxembourg.

Other notable call-ups include youngsters André Almeida and Josué. João Pereira and Fábio Coentrão have been battling injuries but were selected. Braga goalkeeper returned to the squad after an injury to Lyon’s Anthony Lopes.

Missing out this time around are Sporting’s Cédric Soares and André Martins, Nélson Oliveira, Pizzi, Licá and Ruben Amorim. Zenit’s Danny limped off the field in a Champions League match against FC Porto this week and was not selected.

Full Squad

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

Defenders: André Almeida (Benfica), Antunes (Malaga), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), João Pereira (Valencia), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Neto (Zenit) Ricardo Costa (Valencia)

Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), João Moutinho (Monaco), Josué (FC Porto), Raúl Meireles (Fenerbahçe), Ruben Micael (Braga)

Forwards: Bruma (Galatasaray), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Hélder Postiga (Valencia), Éder (Braga), Varela (FC Porto), Nani (Manchester United)

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 5 Players That Could Help Portugal Beat Sweden And Reach Brazil 2014

FEATURE: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

PLAYER PROFILE: Manchester United Are Interested In Signing William Carvalho

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Emerging Star Midfielder William Carvalho

Cristiano+Ronaldo+Northern+Ireland+v+Portugal+5kI6kIiWmBkl

Portugal will go into its final two World Cup 2014 qualifying matches with a slight chance to top their group and earn automatic qualification.

A Seleção will need to win both matches against Israel and Luxembourg and hope group F leaders Russia drop points in their final two games. But it seems likely that Paulo Bento’s side is heading two a two-leg playoff to qualify for Brazil 2014.

Beto named a 25-man squad this time around because regular starters Fábio Coentrão and Hélder Postiga are suspended for the October 11th match against Israel in Lisbon. Portugal’s regular right-back Valencia’s João Pereira has suffered a hamstring injury and was not selected.

This time around Bento has gone with a younger squad than usual, selecting Sporting Lisbon right-back Cédric Soares and Benfica defender André Almeida for the first time. Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was also selected over Portugal’s former number one Eduardo.

FC Porto’s Josué and Sporting Lisbon’s Andre Martins were selected again in midfield. Up front, Sporting Braga striker Éder has made his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury and could start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani against Israel.

Missing out this time around are Pizzi, Licá and Ruben Amorim. Wolfsburg winger Vieirinha suffered a major knee injury and is out for 6 months.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Sevilla), Rui Patrício (Sporting)

Defenders: Cédric Soares (Sporting), André Almeida (Benfica), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Luis Neto (Zenit), Antunes (Málaga), Pepe (Real Madrid), Fábio Coentrão

Midfielders: Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe), João Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Rúben Micael (Braga), André Martins (Sporting), Josué (FC Porto)

Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hélder Postiga (Valencia), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Éder (Braga), Nélson Oliveira (Rennes), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto), Danny (Zenit)

Related Posts:

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Promising Midfielder André Martins

SCOUTING REPORT: Paços de Ferreira’s Playmaker Josué

TRANSFER WINDOW: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s André Almeida Breaks Through

FEATURE: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Julija Nowikowa

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Julija Nowikowa

João Moutinho, Midfielder
Possible Destinations: Tottenham, PSG, Chelsea, AS Monaco
Transfer Markt.com Value: 26 Million Euros

Moutinho has been the engine of the Porto attack since joining the club in 2010. Now that it looks like Porto will win yet another national title, it seems ever more likely that Moutinho will move on to a bigger stage. It is just a matter of where. A potential move to Tottenham fell through in the last hours of the summer transfer window last year but since then several other clubs have been linked with the midfielder and the price has only gone up.

Recent reports indicate that PSG have made a serious attempt to sign the Portuguese international. AS Monaco and Chelsea and their plutocratic owners could just drive up the price for Moutinho as well. But White Hart Lane has always looked like the most logical choice for him. He would be reunited with former manager Andre Villas-Boas and many believe that his first choice is to play in the Premier League. But if Tottenham misses out on Champions League qualification, will that change matters?

Related Article: Four Possible Destinations For Porto’s João Moutinho

Nani, Right Winger
Possible Destinations: Real Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Zenit St. Petersberg, AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma, PSG
Transfer Markt.com Value: 27 Million Euros

Nani has been part of a long drawn out saga this year at Old Trafford. He was again noticeably missing from Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell match against Swansea on Sunday. At 26 years old, Nani has simply not fulfilled the potential many people expected of him when he arrived in 2007. Ferguson has recently stated that he believes that Nani will stay, but many feel that a fresh start could be good for his career.

The latest reports have him going to Serie A champions Juventus at a reduced price of £13 million. PSG reportedly had a recent bid rejected. Nani’s situation seems to depend on how much Manchester United is willing to accept for their underachieving winger. There is no denying Nani’s skill and if he does in fact choose to leave, there is no shortage of possible suitors.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: PSG Reportedly In Negotiations To Land Nani

Fábio Coentrão, Left Back
Possible Destinations: Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Juventus
Transfer Markt.com Value: 18 Million Euros

It was always going to be difficult to live up to his €30 million transfer to Real Madrid. Fans of Portugal and Benfica are very familiar with Coentrão terrific skill going forward at left-back. In his time at Real Madrid however, manager Jose Mourinho has decided instead to use him in a defensive role, which he has performed well. But Coentrão might not be part of Florentino Pérez plans going forward despite being one of the club’s best performers in the second half of the campaign.

Juventus has reportedly shown interest in the Portuguese international. It has also been speculated that Coentrão could be used as part of a transfer deal that will see Gareth Bale join Real Madrid. Chelsea and Arsenal are also said to be interested in Coentrão.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Chelsea and Manchester City Reportedly Interested in Fabio Coentrão

Rui Patricio, Goalkeeper
Possible Destinations: Arsenal
Transfer Markt.com Value: 20 Million Euros

One of the few bright spots for Sporting Lisbon this season. At 25 years of age, Patricio is already a seasoned professional and one of the best overall goalkeepers in the world. Sporting’s financial troubles are well documented, and it might be the best time to offload their greatest asset. Media reports indicate that Sporting value Patricio as much as 20 Million Euros but it is very unlikely that any club will pay that much for a goalkeeper.

Arsenal have reportedly had their previous bid rejected. Regardless, Arsene Wenger is looking for a replacement for Wojciech Szczęsny who has fallen out of favour. With Ferguson gone, Manchester City and Chelsea underachieving, the new Fair Play rules coming into effect, Arsenal for the first time in years could just mount a serious title challenge in the years going forward. But to do that they need to spend money on top quality players, like Rui Patricio.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Arsenal in Pursuit Of Rui Patricio

Manuel Fernandes, Central Midfielder
Possible Destinations: Tottenham, Norwich, West Ham
Transfer Markt.com Value: 14 Million Euros

The former Benfica prodigy moved to Turkey in 2011 after some disappointing spells at Portsmouth, Everton, and Valencia. Since then, he has been one of the best players in the Turkish League, reigniting hopes that Fernandes could finally fulfill the potential that many people predicted from him.

His current club Beşiktaş is currently going through financial difficulties and could be ready to let Fernandes go. His likeliest destination is the Premier League where West Ham, Norwich and others appear to be in pursuit of the 27-year-old. Fernandes has only one year left on his contract and he is expected to leave for at least 10 million Euros, a price that is not out of range for many Premier League clubs thanks to the new television deal.

Cédric Soares, Right Back
Possible Destinations: Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Borussia Monchengladbach, Norwich, Everton
Transfer Markt.com Value: 3 Million Euros

21-year-old Cédric Soares has established himself as one of the most promising young players at the right-back position. He played a major role in Portugal reaching the final of the 2011 U20 World Cup Tournament in Colombia. After playing regularly last season at Académica, he was given his chance with Sporting this year and has made the most of his playing time.

Born in Gelsenkirchen to Portuguese immigrant parents, Soares made it clear in a March 2013 interview with Goal.com that he would welcome a move to the Bundesliga. And there has been no shortage of interest from Germany, including giants Schalke who are based in Gelsenkirchen and Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund. Premier League clubs Norwich and Everton are also said to be interested.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

Amido Baldé, Forward
Possible Destinations: Newcastle, Everton, Wigan, Marseille, Seville, Espanyol, Mallorca, Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, Chievo
Transfer Markt.com Value: 1,5 Million Euros

22-year-old Amido Baldé has been a major part of Vitória Guimarães’ surprising campaign this season. He was most recently named as the best young player in the Portuguese League for the month of April. Released by Sporting one year ago and signed by Vitória Guimarães, Baldé is likely to move abroad this summer for several million Euros.

His size at 1.93m, of course makes him very attractive to Premier League clubs who often stress the aerial game with their young centre-forwards. Newcastle have reportedly opened negotiations with his current club. But interest in Baldé is coming from La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A, mainly from middle of the table clubs. Baldé’s rise over the last year has been surely one of the great stories of the Portuguese League season.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Several Premier League Clubs Chase Vitória de Guimarães Striker Amido Baldé

Related Posts:

TRANSFER WINDOW: Portuguese Players Who Could Be On The Move in January 2013

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Benfica defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-0 on goals by Eduardo Salvio and Lima to take another major step towards winning the domestic title this season. Jorge Jesus’ club overcame a resurgent Sporting side to remain four points ahead of rivals FC Porto in the Liga ZON-Sagras.

Benfica fielded a regular first-choice squad with Oscar Cardozo and Lima in the striker roles in front of a sell-out crowd at the Estádio da Luz. Jesualdo Ferreira’s Sporting side were hoping to build on some positive performances but they were without the services of right-back Cédric Soares.

Ferreira continued to put his faith in youth by placing Tiago Ilori, Andre Martins, Bruma and Eric Dier in the starting line-up. Ilori was solid in central defence, while the three-man midfield of Rinaudo, Martins and Dier gave Benfica trouble all night.

Sporting began the match well, with early chances by Bruma and Wolfswinkel. Benfica struggled to find their rhythm, as Sporting consistently looked dangerous going forward.

But it would be the home side that would break through. Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo delivered a cross-field pass to Nicolas Gaitán on the left side, who then quickly crossed it to an on-coming Eduardo Salvio for the opening goal of the match.

Sporting responded well but were unable to tie the match before half-time despite being the better side in the opening frame. In the second half, Sporting continued to press for an equalizer. In the 75th minute, Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan, in a brilliant display of skill alluded two defenders, before passing it to Salvio who delivered a brilliant volley to Lima for the second goal of the match.

The match was not without controversy, as is usually the case when Portugal’s Big Three play one another. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was brought down by Ezequiel Garay in the box midway through the first half when the score was still 0-0. Replays show that Garay did make contact with Wolfswinkel, who still managed a shot on goal.

Sporting manager Jesualdo Ferreira, as well as several players complained after the match about the officiating of Joao Capelo. “I am not saying that the official influenced the result, but in my opinion they were not impartial,” Ferreira said after the match.

“It is not easy for a manager to say that his club was better than the one that was victorious, but this is truly what happened. Benfica is a better club, they have more experience, they are higher in the standings than Sporting, but today we were better,” Ferreira said.

“We controled the most dangerous supply lines of Benfica, we took control of the match, we pressed high up the pitch and we caused the defence problems with our quick attacking. At the minimum, I think we were penalized by the result.”

“With only two shots, they created two dangerous opportunities and capitalized on them. In those situations, we were not good enough and they won as a result.”

On one final note, Sporting’s Eric Dier left the match in the second half with an injury. After being evaluated on Monday, it was determined that he suffered a contusion of the left rib cage instead of a fracture. Dier will receive treatment and be out indefinitely.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Catherine Kõrtsmik

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Catherine Kõrtsmik

Paulo Bento’s Portugal side is facing another tough road to qualification. Bento has been criticized by many in the Portuguese media by relying too heavily on the same starting XI that came within inches of eliminating Spain in last summer’s European Championships.

With certain Seleção players ageing and losing effectiveness, the road to World Cup has proven to be more difficult than many people predicted. Therefore, I have compiled a list of young Portuguese players that could help the Seleção qualify for Brazil 2014.

Luis Neto, Zenit St.Petersburg, Central Defender

With Bruno Alves and Pepe both on the wrong side of 30, Bento is surely looking for alternatives to Portugal’s ageing central defense. 24-year-old Luis Neto has enjoyed a quick rise to stardom this season and could help solve Portugal’s defensive problems.

Neto impressed with Varzim and Nacional before signing with Serie A club at the beginning of this campaign. With Siena facing relegation, Neto was sold to Zenit in Russia for an undisclosed fee. He played in Portugal’s recent friendly against Ecuador, alongside Zenit teammate Bruno Alves.

Cédric Soares, Sporting Lisbon, Right-Back

Talented, offensively-gifted full-back who has been in excellent form recently for Sporting Lisbon. The 21-year-old has been a regular on Portugal’s junior squads and many people see him as a future option at right-back.

Portugal’s current right-back João Pereira has been under fire recently, and perhaps Bento is ready to look at other options. Cédric would certainly provide the Seleção with an offensive threat down the right side, thought he has to work on his defensive game.

Related Post: TRANSFER WINDOW: Cédric Soares Targeted By Several Clubs in England And Germany

André Almeida, Benfica, Right Back and Defensive Midfielder

Technically gifted and reliable, Almeida has been one of the best young players in the Portuguese league this year. Normally a defensive midfielder, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has used Almeida primarily at right-back where he has performed admirably.

The 22-year-old could provide relief to João Pereira at right-back and Miguel Veloso at defensive midfield. Almeida may not have the offensive upside of Cédric, but he has shown that he could balance his offensive skills with his defensive responsibilities on a more consistent basis.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s André Almeida Breaks Through

André Martins, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

A terrific young talent, 23-year-old André Martins has worked his way back into Sporting’s line-up under manager Jesualdo Ferreira. Martins could inject some much needed creativity to the Portuguese attack which has at times been wasteful and disjointed.

Portugal have lacked a quality playmaker or number 10 since the days of Rui Costa and Deco, Martins certainly looks like he could fulfill that role with the Seleção. Paulo Bento for a few years now has relied on the midfield trio of Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles and João Moutinho. They were terrific at Euro 2012, but have recently struggled to break down opposing defenses.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Promising Midfielder André Martins

André Gomes, Benfica, Central Midfielder

Benfica’s André Gomes has been singled out by many as a future star for the Seleção. Despite being only 19 years of age, Gomes has already played regularly with the senior club. Though, his opportunities have become more limited in the second half of the campaign.

There is no denying that Gomes has the skill to play on the national team one day. Raul Meireles’ effectiveness has dipped since moving to Turkey and Gomes could be an excellent option in midfield now and for the long term.

Related Post: SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s Promising Youngster André Gomes

Pizzi, Deportivo La Coruña, Winger

Highly regarded winger who has had a breakout year with La Liga club Deportivo La Coruña, on loan from Atletico Madrid. Pizzi is one of those footballers who can do just about anything. He could dribble past defenders, deliver near impossible passes, score from free-kicks and has the ability to read the game very well.

Pizzi has been called up to the squad on several occasions, and received his first cap for the Seleção in a recent friendly against Gabon. Portugal has a wealth of talent on the wings, but Pizzi could certainly be an impact substitute for Portugal. Bento has been reluctant to use the 23-year-old so far.

Nélson Oliveira, Deportivo La Coruña, Striker

Nelson Oliveira has been anointed by many as the solution to Portugal’s long standing problem at centre-forward. The 21-year-old has had a disappointing season in Spain, and has not been called up for the squad in recent matches. He has scored only two goals in 22 matches for Deportivo this year.

With Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo on the wings, Portugal should really be scoring more goals. The problem is that the Seleção has lacked a world-class striker since Pauleta retired in 2006. Hélder Postiga and Hugo Almeida are just simply not good enough. Sporting Braga’s Éder looked the part before he went down with a serious knee injury. If Oliveira could earn his place back on the squad, he has all the tools needed to fulfill that responsibility.

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 2

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 3