Posts Tagged ‘central defender’

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

João Moutinho, AS Monaco

The motor of Portugal’s offence. João Moutinho is an excellent box-to-box midfielder who has been behind many of the team’s attacks over the last several years. This will be Moutinho’s third major tournament at senior level with Portugal, as well as his first World Cup.

The 27-year-old had an underwhelming season in Ligue 1, which included being named as one of the League’s ‘Flops’ by the influential French magazine L’Équipe. However, this certainly has not affected his performances for the Seleção. He delivered brilliant assists on two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals during Portugal’s 3-2 play-off win against Sweden in Stockholm.

This Season: João Moutinho played in 31 Ligue 1 matches with As Monaco this season, scoring once and producing seven assists. The club finished second in the League table this season, behind only Paris Saint-Germain.

Fun Fact: After leaving Sporting Lisbon for league rivals FC Porto in 2010, then Sporting president José Eduardo Bettencourt referred to him as a ‘rotten apple.’ Moutinho shattered that perception while with the Dragões winning three Liga Primeira titles, and the Europa League over three seasons. He is also the only member of the squad to be born in the Algarve.

Miguel Veloso, Dynamo Kyiv

28-year-old Miguel Veloso has primarily played the defensive role in a midfield triangle under Paulo Bento. He has performed the role well, but appears likely to lose his position in the starting XI to emerging talent William Carvalho who is better suited for the role.

Veloso is a graduate of Sporting Lisbon’s distinguished academy. Since leaving Portugal in 2010, he has played with Serie A club Genoa and is currently with Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv. This will be Veloso’s fourth major tournament with Portugal. He could also play at left-back.

This Season: Miguel Veloso appeared in 20 League matches for Dynamo Kyiv, helping the club finish fourth in the Ukrainian League.

Fun Fact: His father, António was a talented defender who appeared in 40 matches for Portugal. He was part of the squad that reached the semi-finals of Euro 1984. António Veloso won seven Liga Primeira titles with Benfica as well.

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon

The Angolan-born defensive midfielder is widely expected to be one of Portugal’s key figures at the World Cup. The 22-year-old is part of an exciting emerging generation that should keep the Seleção competitive for the next decade. He made his international debut in the decisive 2nd leg of Portugal’s World Cup qualifying play-off against Sweden.

Carvalho put together some impressive performances in recent friendlies against Cameroon and Greece. Another graduate of Sporting’s football academy, Carvalho had a successful 18-month loan spell at Cercle Brugge before establishing himself with the Lisbon club this past season.

This Season: William Carvalho was excellent this year for Sporting Lisbon, playing in 29 League matches for the club. The club finished second in the League table and qualified for the Champions League for next season.

Fun Fact: Carvalho was raised in Mira Sintra, just outside of Lisbon. As a 13-year-old, he reportedly turned down an invitation to join Portugal’s biggest club Benfica in favour of rivals Sporting Lisbon.

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga

The 21-year-old’s selection came as a surprise to some people. Rafa Silva had just finished his first season in the Liga Primeira when the squad was announced. But there is no denying his potential. Supremely skilled, industrious and blessed with excellent vision, Rafa will be counted on to produce creativity off the bench.

Nominally an attacking midfielder, Rafa was also used on the wing on several occasions this season with Sporting Braga. He made his international debut in a March 5th friendly against Cameroon, playing the entire first-half before withdrawing at half-time due to injury. Rafa is the youngest player on the squad.

This Season: Rafa Silva was a revelation this season with Braga, scoring eight goals in all competitions for the club. A thigh injury in March did not prevent him from being chosen for the World Cup.

Fun Fact: Rafa’s selection to the squad completes what has been an incredible rise for the youngster. He played for modest clubs Atlético Povoense and Alverca, before signing with Feirense in 2011. Rafa played in Portugal’s second division prior to this past season.

Raul Meireles, Fenerbahçe

A seasoned veteran who is often referred to as Portugal’s ‘pitbull.’ He rarely loses possession and has been an effective player on both sides of the game. Meireles has played in 73 international matches for Portugal which places him tied for second-most with Manchester United winger Nani on the current World Cup squad. This will be his fourth major tournament with Portugal.

Meireles has had a very distinguished career having won titles in Portugal, England and Turkey. That includes winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2011-12. He was also voted as PFA Fans’ Player of the Year when he was with Liverpool in 2010-11. Meireles will likely play alongside João Moutinho in Brazil.

This Season: Meireles missed several matches in the first half of the season due to a thigh injury. However, he still managed to play in 20 League matches for Turkish side Fenerbahçe. Along with international teammate Bruno Alves, Meireles helped the club win the Turkish League this season.

Fun Fact: Raul Meireles’ appearance often makes more headlines than his performances on the field. He has numerous tattoos, which includes images of his wife and daughter. Currently, he is sporting a long beard and a Mohawk haircut.

Rúben Amorim, Benfica

The 29-year-old is a very reliable box-to-box midfielder, who could also play at right-back. Amorim has been effective when called upon with Portugal. Although not always first-choice at club level, Amorim has managed to earn a position on the squad after a good season with Benfica.

Amorim was a youth player for Benfica, before signing with Belenenses in 2003. He earned a transfer back to Benfica in 2008 after some impressive seasons. He was loaned to Sporting Braga in 2012-13, before returning to the Lisbon club this past season.

This Season: Rúben Amorim battled injuries this season, as he has done throughout much of his career. But he still managed to play in 17 Liga Primeira matches. And he was a valuable contributor to Benfica’s treble winning season.

Fun Fact: Amorim was a last-minute replacement for Nani four years ago, when the Manchester United winger picked up a clavicle injury and was unable to play in South Africa. Both will be on the squad this time around.

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Portugal continues to produce talent at a rate not seen for some time. This year, there were a high number of Portuguese youngsters flourishing in Europe’s top leagues as well.

Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Lorient left-back Raphaël Guerreiro established themselves as two of Ligue 1’s most exciting young players. While Udinese midfielder Bruno Fernandes is a budding star in Serie A, a league that has not been kind to Portuguese talent in recent seasons.

And as always, the Primeira Liga continued to be fertile ground for promising young home grown talent. The clubs outside the traditional ‘Big Three’ in particular have in recent seasons put their faith in developing players from their academy, perhaps adjusting to new economic realities.

Of those selected to be on the list, four have received a call-up to the National Team. While Braga midfielder Rafa Silva and Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho, will both be representing the Seleção at the World Cup this summer.

Here now is a list of the top Portuguese revelations from this past season.

STARTING XI:

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

23-year-old Anthony Lopes won the starting position at French club Olympique Lyonnais in training camp last summer and has been solid since. His season almost came to an abrupt end when he suffered a serious back injury in early November. He returned only five weeks later and has remained first-choice.

Lopes was on Paulo Bento’s provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup before being left out in favour of more established veterans. But his future remains very bright. He helped lead Olympique Lyonnais to a fifth place finish in a increasingly competitive Ligue 1, conceding only 34 goals in 32 League appearances for the French club. That includes 13 clean sheets.

Paulo Oliveira, Vitória Guimarães, Centre Back

An immensely promising talent from Vitória Guimarães’ academy. The young centre back demonstrated this season that he has the athleticism and football IQ needed to be a top level defender. Sporting Lisbon recently signed him to a five-year contract where he is expected to compete for a starting position next season.

He is already very accomplished despite only being 22-years-old. He won the Portuguese Cup last season with Vitória Guimarães. This season, Oliveira played in the Europa League before the club was eliminated in the group stage. With Bruno Alves and Pepe both over 30, Oliveira could be an option for the Seleção soon if he continues to progress as a player.

Miguel Rodrigues, Nacional, Centre Back

Another very promising defender. Rodrigues started 29 matches this season and was the focal point of a solid Nacional defense. Rodrigues was a major reason the Madeira club finished a better than expected fifth in the League table. The club conceded only 33 goals in 30 League matches this season overall.

Although he has only playd one full season in the Primeira Liga, many people are expecting a lot from him in the future. Together with Paulo Oliveira and Tiago Ilori, Rodrigues is part of a group of highly promising Portuguese central defenders that could conceivably reach the heights of the Seleção .

Raphaël Guerreiro, FC Lorient, Left-Back

An offensively gifted full-back who has enjoyed a very good breakthrough season with Ligue 1 club FC Lorient. Like Anthony Lopes, Guerreiro was born and began playing football in France. However, he has chosen to represent the country of his father internationally. The 20-year-old has already played for Portugal’s Under-21 squad.

This season, Guerreiro has shown excellent attacking instincts and has become known for delivering good crosses into the box. His style is very well-suited for the Portuguese game and according to some sources Paulo Bento is said to be monitoring his progress. However, he still needs to improve his defensive play.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

Portuguese observers should already be well aware of this 22-year-old full-back from his time at Paços Ferreira. In his first season at La Liga club Sevilla, Figueiras started 19 League matches for the club and helped them win the Europa League. He has proved to be a strong offensive threat down the right-side and could even play further up the pitch.

Figueiras still needs to improve the defensive side of his game. He still commits far too many fouls. In La Liga this season, Figueiras picked up nine yellow cards and one red card in 22 total appearances. And he served a four-match ban for verbally abusing a referee. However, this is not an uncommon problem with many young attacking full-backs.

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon, Defensive Midfielder

William Carvalho leads a very strong group of midfielders on the list. The Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder was one of the outstanding performers this season in the Portuguese league. And big things are expected of him next month at the World Cup where he is likely to anchor the Portuguese midfield.

Carvalho is most often compared to former French international Patrick Vieira. The 22-year-old has great positioning, makes goods decisions with the ball and could also contribute offensively. He received his first international cap in the decisive World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. And he put in an excellent performance in a recent friendly against Cameroon.

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

21-year-old Rafael Ferreira Silva has enjoyed an impressive rise over the last 12 months. He was signed from second division side Feirense last summer and was recently selected to Portugal’s World Cup squad. He will be looked upon to provide some creativity from the bench.

Silva has demonstrated this season that he has the skill level and vision to be an elite player. However, like many gifted young players he needs to learn how to play as part of a system. Braga had a difficult season, having fired veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira. But under the right direction, Rafa could just become the playmaker Portugal has sought since the retirement of Deco four years ago.

Bruno Fernandes, Udinese, Attacking Midfielder

19-year-old Bruno Fernandes is former Boavista youth player who spend the 2012-13 season in Serie B with Novara. After helping the club to promotion, Fernandes was signed by Udinese last summer. He began this past season in the club’s reserve squad before earning a position in the starting line-up.

Fernandes would end the season as one of Udinese’s most important players, playing behind striker Antonio Di Natale. The young midfielder scored four goals and notched another six assists in 24 League matches for the Italian club, helping them remain in Serie A.

Carlos Mané, Sporting Lisbon, Winger

The young Sporting Lisbon winger could just emerge as one of Portugal’s great players. The 20-year-old was primarily used in Cup matches in the first half of the season. He scored a spectacular goal from just beyond the box in a League Cup match against Marítimo in January. In the second half, Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim began using him more often in League matches.

His talent is so evident that Manchester United is said to be very interested in signing him, despite the fact that he has yet to play an entire season in top flight. With Diego Capel and André Carrillo likely to leave this summer, Mané could be an automatic starter with Sporting Lisbon next season.

Ricardo Horta, Vitória Setúbal, Winger

A very promising attacker who was relatively unknown until this season. Horta was a Benfica youth player before signing with Vitória Setúbal in 2011. The club surprised everyone by finishing a better than expected seventh in the League total. Horta started hitting top gear in February after the arrival of João Mário on loan from Sporting Lisbon.

He would score six of his seven goals this season from February onwards. Horta has been selected for Portugal’s U19 and U20 squads as well. Sporting Lisbon are said to be interested in signing the youngster but Setúbal may not be willing to give him up so soon.

Bebé, Manchester United (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Striker

One of the great individual stories from this season in Portugal. Written off by so many in the media, the 23-year-old scored 12 goals in 27 appearances for Paços de Ferreira. That includes 11 goals in his final 16 matches. He also scored the opening goal in Paços de Ferreira’s 3-1 play-off win against Desportivo das Aves that assured that the club would remain in the Primeira Liga.

Bebé demonstrated that precocious talent that was not immediately evident while at Old Trafford and in previous loan spells. He scored an excellent volley against Braga in January which seemed to have given him a renewed sense of confidence. In a March League match against Arouca, he back-heeled a pass to himself before scoring. And now a move to one of Portugal’s biggest club’s seems likely.

SUBSTITUTES:

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Central Defender

Luis Martins, Gil Vicente, Left-Back

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Central Midfielder

Danilo Pereira, Marítimo, Central Defender/Defensive Midfielder

João Mário, Sporting Lisbon (On Loan at Vitória Setúbal), Central Midfielder

Fredy, Belenenses, Winger

Ivan Cavaleiro, Benfica, Winger

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 15 Young Players Who Could Play For Portugal At The World Cup

FEATURE: The Top Breakthrough Performers So Far This Season

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

SCOUTING REPORT: FC Lorient Left-Back Raphaël Guerreiro Is Enjoying A Breakout Season In Ligue 1

Scout Report – William Carvalho

SCOUTING REPORT: Udinese Midfielder Bruno Fernandes Could Be The Playmaker Portugal Needs

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

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

PLAYER PROFILE: Is Manchester United ‘Flop’ Bebé The Real Deal Afterall?

PLAYER PROFILE: Former Benfica Defender Miguel Vitor Loving Life In Greece

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

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Portugal is quietly developing the best young talent pool since the Golden Generation of the 1990s. Futebol Factory has compiled a list of some of the best breakthrough performers from the first half of the season.

The Portuguese league continues to produce some exciting young talent. Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho, in particular has stood out this season. The Angolan-born defensive midfielder has attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and other top clubs with his impressive displays.

At the same time, several promising players are heading abroad and succeeding in other top leagues as well. Former Benfica defender Miguel Vitor has adjusted very well in the Greek league with PAOK. While, Nelson Oliveira has made good strides on loan this season at French club Stade Rennais.

Ligue 1, in particular is well represented on the list. Along with Oliveira, Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Lorient defender Raphaël Guerreiro have also played well.

Right-back Diogo Figueiras has earned a starting position in La Liga with FC Sevilla, playing alongside a strong Portuguese contingent in the Andaluz club. Rúben Vezo’s strong start to the season with Vitória Setúbal has earned him a January transfer to Valencia.

Here now is a list of the top Portuguese revelations from the first half of the season laid out in a 4-3-3 formation.

STARTING XI:

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

The 23-year-old goalkeeper earned a starting position with Lyon this summer with his impressive displays in the pre-season. The French-born Lopes has good technique and is known for making exceptional saves. He received his first call-up to the Selecção in September.

His strong start to the season was put in serious jeopardy when he suffered a fractured vertebrae in November in a Ligue 1 match against Guingamp. Lopes was expected to be out long-term but returned less than two months after the injury. He is expected to battle with Braga’s Eduardo as Portugal’s third-choice goalkeeper behind Beto and Rui Patricio.

Paulo Oliveira, Vitória Guimarães, Centre Back

One of the several bright young stars that have come out of Vitória Guimarães in recent years. A local boy, who is a product of the club’s academy, the 21-year-old centre back has been solid for Rui Vitoria’s club.

Oliveira is steadily building up a good resume. He has played in the Europa League this season. And he has been a regular for Portugal at the U21 level as well. Most recently, Oliveira was named the best young player in the Portuguese first division for the month of December.

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Central Defender

One of the best stories from the first half of the season. The 24-year-old Vitor endured loan spells at Desportivo das Aves and Leicester City, in between time sitting on the bench for Benfica. He spent 2012-13 in the club’s reserve squad in the second division.

Benfica finally gave him his unconditional release this past summer. He signed with Greek club PAOK and has thrived. Vitor has scored five goals for the club already this season. Portugal is not particularly deep at central defender. A strong second half could be enough to draw Paulo Bento’s attention.

Luis Martins, Gil Vicente, Left-Back

Like Miguel Vitor, left-back Luis Martins was never really given a fair chance at Benfica. He transferred to Gil Vicente in January 2013 where he has since flourished. This season, he has started all 14 matches for the club and scored two goals.

Martins played in the Portugal squad that reached the final of the 2011 U20 World Cup. This season, he has played himself into the U21 squad as well, which is undergoing qualifying for the European Championships in 2015. At only 21 years of age, Martins will surely be a player to watch in the future.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

The 23-year-old right-back has been impressive with FC Sevilla this early season. He was bought from Paços Ferreira in the summer to back up Coke, but has since replaced the Spaniard as first-choice. Figueiras is a skilled right-back who has the ability to beat defenders one-on-one.

However, he still commits too many fouls and needs to learn how to balance his offensive skills with his defensive responsibilities. This season has not gone without a blemish, he is currently serving a four-match suspension for verbally abusing a referee.

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon, Defensive Midfielder

The 21-year-old has enjoyed an unbelievable ascent over the last six months. Carvalho’s performances in the pre-season with Sporting earned him a place in the starting XI. Since then he has impressed everyone with his simple, but highly effective displays.

Carvalho was voted the best player in the Portuguese league in October, November and December. He is drawing interests from several big European clubs. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, Carvalho is at this moment, a prime candidate to be in Portugal’s squad for the World Cup.

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Central Midfielder

The 20-year-old midfielder has been behind many of Belenenses’ attacks this season. Silva is an offensively minded midfielder who has good vision and is a good passer of the ball. He is another former Benfica youth player who left for Lisbon rivals Belenenses in 2009.

Last season, while playing in the second division, he impressed club manager Mitchell van der Gaag in pre-season and earned himself a regular starting position. He helped the team to promotion last season and has continued to grow as a player.

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder was bought from second division Feirense last summer and has impressed with his skill and vision. Expected to be used as a substitute this season, Silva has played himself in to Jesualdo Ferreira’s squad. He has also been used as a winger at times.

Silva’s has enjoyed a remarkable rise in Portuguese football over the last few years. He played with little known Atlético Povoense before signing with Alverca as a youth player. Silva would make the most of his playing time in the lower divisions and earned a transfer to Feirense in 2011. This year he has been selected for Portugal’s U20 and U21 squads.

Diogo Viana, Gil Vicente, Winger

A former Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto youth player, Diogo Viana is finally getting his chance to play full-time in the Portuguese top flight this season. And he has not failed to disappoint. Viana has been the main offensive threat for a surprising Gil Vicente club this season.

According to a report in the Daily Mirror in November, Premier League clubs Everton and Swansea City are interesting in signing the Portuguese winger. He recently signed an extension with the club that expires in 2016. The deal includes a release clause of €5 million.

Fredy, Belenenses, Winger

The 23-year-old was a major part of Belenenses gaining promotion back to the top division. The Angolan-born winger, who has played for Portugal’s junior squads, has been in excellent form once again this season.

He was recently rewarded with a contract extension that will see him tied to the club until 2016. The deal includes a €4 million release clause. According to O Jogo, several clubs are interested in signing the talented winger.

Nelson Oliveira, Benfica (On Loan at Rennes), Striker

The Portuguese international has followed up a disappointing loan spell in La Liga last year with a much better season with Rennes. The 22-year-old has already scored seven goals so far with the French club after getting only four all of last season with Deportivo.

The young striker still has to improve his decision-making and ability to link up with his teammates. However, he is still making a strong case to be in Portugal’s World Cup squad. Rennes has expressed interest in signing him to a permanent deal.

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SUBSTITUTES:

Miguel Rodrigues, Nacional, Centre Back
Rúben Vezo, Vitória Setúbal (Transferred To Valencia), Central Defender
Raphaël Guerreiro, FC Lorient, Left-Back
Filipe Ferreira, Belenenses, Left-Back
Danilo Pereira, Marítimo, Central Defender/Defensive Midfielder
Sérgio Oliveira, FC Porto (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Central Midfielder
Ivan Cavaleiro, Benfica, Winger
Paulinho, Gil Vicente, Winger
Marco Matias, Vitória Guimarães, Striker

Related Posts:

TRANSFER WINDOW: Valencia Confirm Deal For Central Defender Rúben Vezo

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

PLAYER PROFILE: Former Benfica Defender Miguel Vitor Loving Life In Greece

Scout Report – William Carvalho

Pepe Will Lead Portugal's Defence  Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Roger Gorączniak

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Roger Gorączniak

Over the next few weeks Futebol Factory will be analyzing Portugal at each position. At centre back, Portugal boasts a very experienced group of players.

Pepe and Bruno Alves have carried the load for the Selecção for the last few years and are widely expected to do the same in Brazil.

Paulo Bento will bring four centre backs to the World Cup. Luis Neto and Ricardo Costa appear to be front-runners to grab the two back-up positions, but with more than half the season to go there is plenty of time for others to mount a challenge.

Tickets Booked: Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Pepe (Real Madrid), Luis Neto (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Ricardo Costa (Valencia)

On The Bubble: Daniel Carriço (Sevilla FC), José Fonte (Southampton), Henrique Sereno (Kayserispor), Miguel Vítor (PAOK), Rolando (Inter Milan), Tiago Ilori (Liverpool)

Brazilian-born Pepe will lead the Portuguese back line in Brazil. The 30-year old missed the beginning of the last World Cup with a serious knee injury. One of Portugal’s best performers at Euro 2012, he famously traveled to the shrine-town of Fátima after the tournament to pray. After a poor 2012-12 season, he has been in good form so far this year.

Pepe will likely be partnered with Bruno Alves, who also has Brazilian heritage on his father’s side. The 31-year old is a tough tackler, a free-kick specialist, and is dominate in the air. He is currently playing with Fenerbahçe in Turkey with fellow Portuguese international Raul Meireles.

Manager Paulo Bento has been very consistent with his selections at centre-back. Valencia captain Ricardo Costa and Zenit’s Luis Neto have both performed admirably when called upon.

But that does not rule out the possibility of another player being selected for the squad. Injuries and a decline in form could open the door for someone else.

Rolando, who is on loan at Inter Milan from FC Porto, has received caps during Bento’s time as Portuguese manager. So has Kayserispor’s Henrique Sereno.

After that there are some intriguing players that could play themselves onto the squad. Southampton’s José Fonte has been in excellent form this season for the club and some feel that Bento has unfairly overlooked him.

Former Benfica player Miguel Vítor has also impressed with Greek club PAOK this season. Former Sporting Captain Daniel Carriço is finally healthy and if he manages to put together some consistent performances with Sevilla, Bento could be tempted to select him.

Liverpool youngster Tiago Ilori remains a possibility, but he would need to start playing regular football before he could be considered.

Related Posts:

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

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

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

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

TRANSFER WINDOW: Portuguese Defender Bruno Alves Officially Joins Fenerbahçe

PLAYER PROFILE: Former Benfica Defender Miguel Vitor Loving Life In Greece

TRANSFER WINDOW: Former Sporting Idol Daniel Carriço Moves To Sevilla On Loan

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Central Defender Tiago Ilori

TRANSFER WINDOW: Portuguese Defender Rolando Loaned To Inter Milan

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19-year old central defender Rúben Vezo will join La Liga giants Valencia in January, the Spanish club confirmed on Monday.

The Portuguese defender was in Spain on Monday to finalize the terms of a four-year deal that takes effect on January 1st, 2014 when the winter transfer window officially opens.

The transfer fee is believed to be around €1,5 million according to some sources although that was not confirmed by either club. Vezo’s current club Vitória Setúbal will receive 25 percent of a future sale of the player according to a news release on the Valencia club website.

The Setúbal-born Vezo is a product of the club’s youth academy. This is his first professional season with the senior side and he has not failed to impress, starting in eight league matches for the club. His performances have earned him a call-up to Portugal’s U19 squad.

Vezo was previously linked with a move to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon according to national radio station Antena 1 but will be honing his craft at the Mestalla instead. He is believed to be a replacement for Adil Rami who is expected to join AC Milan on loan in January.

Vezo will be the fourth Portuguese national on the Spanish team, joining Hélder Postiga, João Pereira and Ricardo Costa.

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Portuguese defender Miguel Vitor could not have imagined a better start to life in Greece. Unceremoniously released by Benfica in the summer, the 24-year old signed with Greek club PAOK and has quickly won over fans.

Vitor has scored four goals in his first eight matches in the Greek Super League, while PAOK currently sit comfortably in second position behind Olympiakos.

Vitor followed up a two goal performance last weekend in a league game against Asteras Tripolis with another goal in the Europa League against Maccabi Haifa midweek. The goal came in the 35th minute when the Greek club was already down 2-0. Vitor headed in a long free-kick to cut the lead in half.

The goal helped PAOK come back and win the match 3-2. The win means they are currently in first place in group L, with seven points in three matches.

Vitor has scored five goals in all competitions already this season. In an interview with Portuguese football website Maisfutebol this week, the central defender reflected on his immediate success in Greece.

“Both collectively and individually, everything is going perfectly,” he told Maisfutebol.

Vitor has won great admiration from the PAOK faithful for his early season heroics.

“The Greek fans are very passionate. Things have turned out well for the club and myself so far. They have given us a lot of affection. It is a good feeling.”

A Benfica youth player, Miguel Vitor graduated to the senior club in 2008-09. He made 16 league appearances under former manager Quique Sánchez Flores in his first season.

But Jorge Jesus took over at the Estádio da Luz the following season. He favoured Luisão and David Luiz in the centre of defence. Vitor made only two appearances in 2009-10 as Benfica would go on to win the league and the Portuguese Cup.

In 2010-11, Vitor was loaned to Leicester City in the English Championship. Former Portugal international and Benfica player Paulo Sousa was the manager of the club at the time. Vitor would impress, recovering from an early season injury to play in 15 league matches, scoring three goals.

Upon returning to Benfica, Vitor was relegated to a bench role in the next two seasons. Last year, he divided time between the senior club and Benfica B in the second division. Vitor’s summer departure came as no surprise to anyone.

In the interview with Maisfutebol, Vitor said that he left Benfica with regret but is now firmly focussed on rebuilding his career in a new country.

“Of course I wish things could have worked out better but I wouldn’t say I was hurt by it. I don’t really think about it anymore,” he said.

“Over several years it became obvious that there wasn’t any room for me. With the current manager, I understood that it would be very difficult to get an opportunity,” he added.

Vitor is the latest Portuguese national to make a big name for himself at PAOK. Fernando Santos managed the club for three seasons before leaving to coach the Greek national team in 2010. Former Portugal winger and current manager of Académica Sérgio Conceição also played for PAOK for two seasons.

But most notably, Vieirinha played for PAOK for three seasons, being named the team’s player of the year twice. His impressive performances earned him a transfer to Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg and eventually a call-up to the Portuguese national team.

The comparisons between Vieirinha and Miguel Vitor are almost unavoidable. Both were highly touted youth players. Vieirinha never really got a chance with FC Porto, while Vitor was never really given an opportunity at Benfica. Both headed off to Greece. Could Miguel Vitor’s career take a similar path?

A regular on Portugal’s U19 and U21 squads, Vitor said that a call-up to the senior squad would be a dream come true.

“It is a dream that I have, but I know that I have not played much in the last three seasons. To get there, I have to play one or two seasons at a high level before I could expect to be selected,” he said.

“I hope Portugal qualify for the World Cup but I think it will be difficult for me to get there. The squad is well established. But it is a possibility, I have to continue to work hard in order to get there.”

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

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The Seleção will need to be at their best in order to beat Sweden and qualify for Brazil.

Paulo Bento’s club has not been in top form during this qualifying stage, finishing second in their group behind Russia. It no longer looks like the same squad that came within inches of dethroning Spain at last year’s European Championship.

Manager Bento has been widely criticized for what people say has been an overly ‘conservative’ approach, relying too much on the same players to win. Certain players have aged and seen their quality decline. At the same time, Portugal has looked disinterested and lacking in creativity, particularly in midfield.

Bento has shown in the past that he knows how to tinker with his line-up, dropping Eduardo and Ricardo Carvalho during Euro 2012 qualifying for example. He would need to do the same if Portugal is to qualify and do well in Brazil.

Futebol Factory has comprised a list of 5 current Seleção players that could have a meaningful impact in the crucial World Cup play-off against Sweden.

André Almeida, SL Benfica, Right-Back

The 23-year old filled in at right-back for the injured João Pereira in Portugal’s final two qualifying matches and performed very well. If Pereira’s hamstring injury persists, Bento could easily turn to Almeida again.

Almeida has shown already with club and country that he is a solid player defensively although the offensive side of his game leaves something to be desired. He could also play at left-back and even in defensive midfield if called upon. Almeida is a very reliable player and barring a lack of playing time at Benfica, he has a bright future with the Seleção .

Luis Neto, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, Centre Back

The 25-year old Neto has received five caps with Portugal already, which includes four starts. With Pepe and Bruno Alves both over 30, Neto appears to be the likely candidate to help lead Portugal’s back line. He has filled in nicely when called upon so far.

Neto, who is currently playing in Russia with Zenit, drew interest from Tottenham and Inter Milan this summer. Bruno Alves has been a workhorse for Portugal in the past but it appears likely that Neto will soon replace him as first-choice.

Josué, FC Porto, Attacking Midfielder

In his time as Portugal manager, Paulo Bento has relied on a three-man midfield for creativity. In recent matches, it has struggled to break down opposing defenses even against weaker teams like Northern Ireland, Israel and Luxembourg. Enter, FC Porto playmaker Josué Pesqueira, a Deco look-a-like who even wears the same number 20 for Portugal.

Josué played in Portugal’s lacklustre 3-0 win against Luxembourg to finish World Cup qualifying. After a quiet first-half he demonstrated more of his skill as the match went on. Alongside Monaco’s Joao Moutinho, Josué could help the midfield link up better with the wingers, i.e. Ronaldo and Nani.

André Martins, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

Another candidate to solve Portugal’s midfield deficiencies. The 23-year old Martins has been in good form this year for a resurgent Sporting Lisbon and has been selected by Bento since the end of last season.

Portugal’s offence has long relied on the flanks to create scoring opportunities. This is the same type of system that Sporting Lisbon is currently using under manager Leonardo Jardim. Martins has the vision to be an excellent player one day and could make a serious challenge for Raul Meireles’ position in the starting XI.

Éder, Sporting Braga, Striker

The Sporting Braga forward is still working on his fitness after returning from a 6-month layoff due to a knee injury. The 25-year old has received 6 caps with Portugal, including one start but is yet to score. Since the retirement of former PSG striker Pauleta, Portugal has been in search of a world class striker.

Hélder Postiga has done well in the role but the Valencia striker’s overall game is lacking. Nelson Oliveira has potential but he still has a lot to learn. That leaves Éder as the great hope of Portuguese football. He could create goals, as well as score them. Good in the air and lightning quick, everything is falling into place for Éder right now.

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

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

This is the third and final article of a feature series exclusive to Futebol Factory that profiles the most promising Portuguese youngsters. Later this week, this website will be publishing an overview of all 21 players named in our series.

Here now are the last seven Portuguese young players that could have break out seasons this year.

José Sá, Maritimo, Goalkeeper

The 20-year old made a big name for him self this summer at the U20 World Cup. He certainly raised his profile in Maritimo’s opening match this season against Benfica, back stopping the Madeira-based club to a 2-1 win. The former Benfica youth player looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

With Maritimo’s former number one goalkeeper Romain Salin departing to Rio Ave, manager Pedro Martins has no proven goalkeeper. This could be his year to establish himself as a starting goalkeeper and perhaps an option for the Seleção.

Nuno Reis, Sporting Lisbon, Centre Back

A promising player whose future looks uncertain at the moment. Reis formed an excellent partnership at the centre of defence with Rio Ave’s Roderick Miranda at the 2011 U20 World Cup where Portugal finished second. He played with Olhanense last season.

The 22-year old does not appear to be part of Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim’s immediate plans. Currently playing with Sporting B squad in the second division, a loan deal seems likely.

Ricardo Ferreira, Olhanense, Centre Back

Born to Portuguese parents in Canada, Ricardo Ferreira is a former FC Porto youth player. In 2011, he was signed by Serie A giants AC Milan but never played a professional match for them. Last year, he was loaned to Serie B squad Empoli where he found playing time difficult to come by.

Ferreira was released this past summer by the Italian club and signed with Olhanense. He should find more playing time with Abel Xavier club, but unless the former Portuguese international proves to be a better manager than most people expect, the Algarve-club should be battling hard to stay in the top division.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

The 22-year old was signed by La Liga club Sevilla this summer after an impressive season at Paços Ferreira. The club’s sporting director Monchi has praised his speed and technical ability, although it looks like he will have to play second-fiddle to Coke for now.

Figueiras lists former Sevilla right-back Dani Alves as a personal role model. He told journalists at his official unveiling in July, “Daniel Alves (Now with FC Barcelona) is an inspiration to me because he is the best full-back in the world. I am an ambitious player and I hope that I could one day reach his level. I am an offensive-minded full-back.”

Flávio Ferreira, Malaga, Centre Back/Defensive Midfielder

Signed by Malaga in the summer from Académica, where he primarily played at centre back last season. The 21-year old could also pay in defensive midfield. As of late August, Ferreira was battling a back injury that was to be evaluated from week to week.

With Malaga losing several quality players and their manager this summer, Ferreira could be given an opportunity to shine this year at the Estadio La Rosaleda. He should feel very welcome in Andalusia this season with Portuguese players Duda, Eliseu and Vitorino Antunes on the squad.

Ricardo Alves, Belenenses, Midfielder

Newly-promoted clubs are always likely to have exciting young talented. 20-year old Ricardo Alves played himself into Belenenses’ starting XI last season when promotion was all but assured. His performances were enough to earn him a spot of Portugal’s U20 World Cup squad where he played three matches.

This season in the top division, the suburban Lisbon club are still without a proven goal scorer and will likely rely on its creativity in midfield to win matches. Alves will be counted on to produce this season.

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Midfielder

Another promising midfielder at Belenenses. Silva played regularly last season in the second division, scoring four goals in 31 matches for the club. Silva, along with Ricardo Alves could provide the basis for a strong Belenenses midfield this year.

The 20-year old is more attack-minded than Alves and will need to be good this season if Mitchell van der Gaag’s club is to prevent relegation. They got off to a poor start in match day one with a 3-0 defeat at home to Rio Ave.

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

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Futebol Factory is profiling some of Portugal’s most promising young talent in three feature articles ahead of the new football season.

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

A quality goalkeeper that has played for Portugal at the U21 level. French-born Lopes played the last 5 Ligue 1 matches last season for the French club and has already figured prominently in Europa League qualifying matches so far this month. He also impressed in Lyon’s 4-0 defeat of Nice in the first match of the Ligue 1 season.

The French-club is currently without a proven stopper and could be tempted to go with Lopes. They have also shown some great faith in him by signing Lopes to a contract extension that will see him stay with the club until 2016. Rui Patrício is the uncontested Portuguese number one but it never hurts to have a quality alternative.

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Centre Back

Unceremoniously released by Benfica this off season, the central defender was quickly signed by Greek giants PAOK. Vitor has played alongside former Benfica player Kostas Katsouranis in PAOK’s Europa League qualifying matches against Metalist Kharkiv.

A very prominant figure with Portugal’s U21 squads, the 24-year old is expected to finally get his chance to play everyday in Greece. A chance he was never really given in Portugal. He joins a club that has been good to Portuguese talent in the past, including Sérgio Conceição and Vieirinha.

Ricardo Esgaio, Sporting Lisbon, Winger/Right-Back

An exciting player who is a big part of Sporting’s amazing pool of young talent. The 20-year old recently signed a long-term extension with the club that will see him under contract until 2018. He also played in the U20 World Cup.

Supremely talented and versatile, Esgaio scored 17 goals in 27 matches for Sporting B squad in the second division last year. However, this might not yet be the year that Esgaio makes the big leap to the senior side. Sporting has depth on the wings, and Leonardo Jardim might decide that it is better for him to continue to develop in the second division or possibly on loan.

Sérgio Oliveira, FC Porto (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Midfielder

Sérgio Oliveira has been in the spotlight since he was the youngest player ever to play for FC Porto’s senior side at the age of 17. He has found opportunities at the Cidade Invicta very limited since then, being loaned out to several clubs in recent years.

He played last season with Porto’s B squad in the second division, scoring 5 goals in 29 matches. Still only 21 years of age, Oliveira should receive playing time at Paços de Ferreira. A natural central midfielder, Oliveira is a free-kick specialist.

João Mário, Sporting Lisbon, Midfielder

Recently signed to a long-term extension, João Mário is one of the most talked about young players in Portugal today. The central midfielder captained Portugal’s U20 squad at this summer’s World Cup. For many it has always been a matter of when, not if.

Sporting’s new manager Leonardo Jardim has shown a willingness to ‘test’ young players in the past with Braga. However, João Mário might find it hard to play regularly this season because of the club’s investments in Adrien Silva, Andre Martins, Andre Santos and Zakaria Labyad.

Filipe Chaby, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

Another supremely promising midfielder from Sporting’s famed academy. The 19-year old missed most of last season with a serious knee injury however, he has played very well this summer in exhibition matches for the senior squad.

Recently signed to a long-term extension, Chaby will be hard-pressed to earn a position on Leonardo Jardim’s starting XI given the club’s depth in young midfielders. However, Chaby is certainly a player to watch going forward.

Aladje, Sassuolo, Striker

Born in Guinea-Bissau and currently playing in Italy, Aladje has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last two months. A surprise addition to Portugal’s squad for the U20 Toulon Tournament, Aladje wrestled the starting striker position away from Betinho. He would score 3 goals in 4 matches at the U20 World Cup and was even profiled in an article on the FIFA website.

Until now he has only played football in Italy’s lower division but this appears likely to change after he moved to Serie B graduates Sassuolo this summer. Aladje is part of a promising generation of young Portuguese strikers that could finally deliver the country a major trophy.

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

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Benfica fans will not get a chance to see one of Portugal’s best young talents play at the Estádio da Luz this season after all.

Winger Pizzi has been loaned to Barcelona-based club RCD Espanyol after completing a transfer to Benfica from La Liga’s Atlético Madrid. Brazilian central defender Sidnei will also be loaned to Espanyol this season.

According to the football website O Jogo, Espanyol is reported to have paid Benfica €1,5million for their one year of service.

The two players were officially unveiled to the Espanyol faithful on Tuesday at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat. The club’s sporting director Òscar Perarnau said at the news conference that, ‘Pizzi was a primary objective for the attack.’

Perarnau also revealed that the club was interested in the Portuguese winger when he was still under contract with Atlético Madrid.

Pizzi said that his primary objective was to have a successful season ahead of the 2014 World Cup. “I am going to try to improve on what I did at Deportivo, as well as help Espanyol reach its objectives.”

Pizzi has received one cap for Portugal so far, playing in a November 2012 friendly against Gabon. He established himself as one of the best young players in La Liga last season, scoring 8 goals and adding another 7 assists in 35 matches with now-relegated Deportivo La Coruña.

23-year old Sidnei has struggled to find playing time with Benfica over the last few years. He played most of last season with Benfica’s B squad in the second tier Liga de Honra.

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