Posts Tagged ‘Fabio Coentrao’

Dani Osvaldo FC Porto

Sporting and FC Porto received most of the headlines this weekend after resounding victories in match-day seven of the Primeira Liga season. Both clubs share top spot in the table with 17 points each.

After a famous victory against former manager Jose Mourinho and Chelsea during the week, the Dragões trounced Belenenses 4-0 at home on Sunday. After a scoreless first-half, summer signing Jesús Corona put Porto ahead just after the break. Brahimi, Osvaldo and Marcano rounded out the scoring.

Manager Julen Lopetegui credited his club’s mental strength for the victory.

“We deserved to be winning at half-time, but couldn’t score, despite our superiority, as we missed too many shots. We had several situations to score, played well, facing a team with good players, and we were waiting on the perfect timing. The team had mentality, was capable of working and winning,” he said.

The win may have come at a price. Team captain and defensive-stalwart Maicon may be on the sidelines for a few weeks after leaving the match in the first-half with a thigh injury.

Sporting followed up a disappointing 1-1 draw against Beşiktaş in the Europa League, with a convincing 5-1 win against Vitória Guimarães at Alvalade. Islam Slimani scored a hat-trick, with Teo Gutiérrez and Adrien Silva scoring the other two. It may have been Sporting’s most complete performance of the season.

William Carvalho made his first appearance at Alvalade after returning from a leg injury and looked to be in top form.

“Yes, this performance was a good response. We have worked hard, despite the problems,” he said.

“The objective is to play well and win. Now we have to work hard and think about the next match.”

Last year’s champions Benfica had their match against União de Madeira postponed because of thick fog. A new date has not been announced.

Outside the ‘Big Three,’ Rio Ave is the biggest surprise so far. Pedro Martins’ club sit alone in third position. Braga could only manage a scoreless draw against Arouca but still sit comfortably in fourth position. Benfica rounds off the top five, with one game at hand.

Moreirense and Academica currently sit in the relegation zone with three points each. Academica won their first match of the season beating Marítimo 1-0. Moreirense played Tondela to a 1-1 draw and remain the only club without a league victory this season.

The Liga NOS will now go on a two-week hiatus for the international break and the Portuguese Cup. On 25 October, Benfica and Sporting will clash at the Estádio da Luz. FC Porto will also play Braga.

André Carrillo and Sporting heading for a split?

It looks like André Carrillo is on his way out of Sporting. The Peruvian had not dressed for the club for several matches because of on-going contract negotiations.

Last week, the drama turned into a full-fledged saga when the club announced that they had formally suspended the player. They also released a 32-point press release detailing alleged acts of impropriety by Carrillo and his representatives.

The club accused Carrillo and his people of deliberately sabotaging negotiations. Sporting also accused the player and his representatives of trying to force his way out of the club, among other allegations.

Carrillo was signed by the club in 2011 from Alianza Lima. He was one of the very few good signings by Luís Godinho Lopes. Current club president Bruno de Carvalho spoke about Carrillo on the TVI program Prolongamento on Monday.

“Carrillo told me that he no longer wanted to play for Sporting because he was no longer committed to us,” he said.

“We tried to re-sign Carrillo for a year and a half. In football, there are problems that just cannot be resolved.”

Carrillo’s contract expires this summer which means the club will have to sell him during the January transfer window.

Cristiano Ronaldo hits a milestone and surpasses Raul

It seems like every week Cristiano Ronaldo is breaking a new record. This past week, the Portugal captain scored his 500th career goal and also surpassed Real Madrid legend Raul to become the club’s all-time leading scorer.

Ronaldo was put in alone by Isco in the first-half of Real Madrid’s Champions League match against Malmö FF. And he made no mistake. Late in the second half, he flicked Lucas Vázquez’s pass into the goal, as Real won 2-0.

It has been a long, remarkable journey for the boy from Madeira. He scored his first senior goal for Sporting on 7 October, 2002 against Moreirense. Back then, he was just another in a line of supremely-talented wingers coming out of the club’s Alcochete academy.

So much has happened since then. His transfer to Manchester United, Euro 2004, Germany 2006, Moscow 2008, Real Madrid, Euro 2012, Lisbon 2014 and that special night in Stockholm. Not to mention the three Ballon d’Or.

It is hard to believe that he will ever slow down. Although, his game has changed since he turned 30 last year. Ronaldo seems to have lost the ability to score from free-kicks. And he no longer scores from distance as he once did.

But, his decline appears to be a long way off. Although, he appears to be evolving into a one-touch goalscorer, his production is not dropping. And given his well-known commitment to fitness and his desire, Ronaldo should be able to play at a very high level for several more seasons.

Seleção to face Denmark on Thursday in Braga

Portugal will play Denmark in Braga on Thursday. The Seleção sit first in Group I with 15 points. A draw will be enough to qualify for Euro 2016 next summer. They will travel to Serbia after the match.

“It is true that we are close to qualifying, but we still have a lot to do. It will be two difficult matches [against Denmark and Serbia],” Portugal manager Fernando Santos said.

“Denmark is a club of great quality, both collectively and individually. For Denmark, this is a final because it is their last match of the group. We need to approach this match as a final as well.”

Benfica right-back Nelson Semedo received his first senior call-up. João Moutinho, Tiago and Fábio Coentrão were selected after sitting out previous matches because of injuries. Luis Neto and Rafa Silva also return to the squad.

William Carvalho, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Gomes, Pepe, Paulo Oliveira and Vieirinha were left out because of injuries or fitness issues. Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was originally selected but was forced to withdraw after coming down with gastroenteritis. Dinamo Zagreb’s Eduardo was named in his place.

Portugal’s U21 squad will continue their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign this week against Hungary, before facing Greece on Tuesday. Rui Jorge’s squad beat Albania 6-1 in their first qualifying match last month. However, they will have to make do without André Silva who is out with an ankle injury.

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Portugal were eliminated from the World Cup despite a 2-1 win against Ghana in their final group stage match. The victory was not enough to overturn a large goal differential left behind after a 4-0 defeat to Germany earlier in the tournament and the United States advanced to the round of 16 instead.

But the Seleção will not feel like they deserved a better fate. Throughout the tournament, this team looked predictable in attack, unstable at the back-end, and desperately lacking in intensity.

Many questions will be asked of Portugal’s leadership. Paulo Bento and the FPF face a long summer of reflection as they look ahead to qualifying for the 2016 European Championships in France.

Here are just some of the things we learned from Portugal’s early exit.

The Squad Has Aged and Declined Since Euro 2012

Portugal’s World Cup squad was little changed from the one that lost to Spain at the last European Championships two years ago. Bento went with a starting XI in the first match of this tournament that was identical to the one that lined up against Germany at Euro 2012, except Hugo Almeida started in place of the off-form Helder Postiga.

Many key players from the Euro 2012 squad had entered the downside of their careers since then. While Nani, Fábio Coentrão, Postiga and others had poor seasons at club level. Bento did not account for the decline of many of his players. And at the same time, not many players emerged as viable alternatives in the two years between major tournaments.

Paulo Bento’s Conservative Approach Has Backfired

Since his days at Sporting Lisbon, Paulo Bento’s coaching philosophy has been characterized by his conservative approach to squad selections and tactics. There is a good reason for this. Players often benefit from a certain level of consistency that is meant to help build team chemistry. However, this approach reached its zenith at Euro 2012.

The decline was evident during qualifying when the Seleção again struggled to defeat even minnows like Northern Ireland and Israel. No changes were made. Cristiano Ronaldo lifted Portugal to Brazil. But at the World Cup, the team’s weaknesses were badly exposed by the opposition. And the tried and tested system that had worked so well at Euro 2012 was no longer effective.

There Was No Plan B

Portugal electrified Euro 2012 with its entertaining brand of counter-attacking football. But two years after the fact, it was no longer a secret. Their opponents did a good job of defending the counter-attack leaving Portugal with fewer options. The team looked predictable and lacking in creativity.

There were attempts by Paulo Bento to experiment with a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1 formation during qualifying and even in recent friendlies. But, the team never played in either formation long enough to gel. The familiar 4-3-3 formation suits Portugal’s style of play very well, but it has left the team vulnerable at times.

Injuries and Suspensions Left The Team Depleted

Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness issues was one of the most talked-about stories going into the tournament. It is clear now that he was likely feeling some pain in his knee during the group stage matches. But it was the injuries to Portugal’s supporting cast that probably hurt the team’s chances the most.

The loss of Fábio Coentrão to a groin injury in the match against Germany left Portugal light in attack on the flanks, which is vital to the team’s game plan. Injuries to Hugo Almeida, Rui Patricio, Andre Almeida and Helder Postiga followed, leaving Portugal with even fewer options. Pepe’s absence against the United States forced Bento to field a makeshift defense that looked very vulnerable at times.

Portugal Are Still Looking For That Quality Striker

The centre-forward position has been a particular point of weakness for the Seleção in recent tournaments. Helder Postiga has provided some much-needed production in qualifying, easing the goal-scoring burden on Ronaldo. However, the Valencia striker was coming off an injury-plagued season and was obviously off-form.

Hugo Almeida was injured early in the first half against Germany, opening the door for Braga’s Éder. But the 26-year-old struggled badly to find positioning and often lost possession in good areas. Éder was coming off a serious knee injury and he had difficulty against tough opposition defenses. And unfortunately, there does not appear to be anyone else who can come in and make an immediate impact.

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Portugal will not go into Brazil as one of the favorites among most pundits and fans. However, with the world’s best player and a reasonably balanced squad, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the country can win their first tournament at senior level next month.

The mood surrounding the Portuguese squad is one of cautious optimism. The relative success of Euro 2012 did much to dispel the notion that Portugal is in decline as a footballing nation. But still, the Seleção will go into the World Cup with less talent than in 2002 and 2006, but likely more than four years ago.

Several important players like Nani, João Moutinho and Fábio Coentrão had relatively poor seasons. And there are also concerns about the fitness of several players, including Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal can only be considered a dark horse, but one that is capable of making an impact, possibly more than that.

Portugal as a nation, prides itself on exceeding expectations. And it is that motivation that should drive the Seleção in Brazil. Here now are the 5 reasons Portugal can win the World Cup, courtesy of Futebol Factory.

Almost Home-Field Advantage

Portugal will be one of the best supported countries in Brazil. Tickets for a training session on June 12th sold out in less than six minutes this week. The common language and strong historical ties between the two countries will no doubt benefit the Seleção.

Many Portuguese emigrants who settled in Brazil left the country only a few decades ago, maintaining strong connections. And of course there will always be a hint of post-Colonial resentment towards Portugal in its former colony. However, the squad could expect to receive a warm welcome.

Little Pressure

There is a greater sense of optimism in Portugal than in previous tournaments. The squad is playing better, and most supporters believe that they should get stronger in the coming years. And in contrast to its rivals, the squad has little to prove going into the tournament.

Brazil will be playing at home. Anything less than a win would be a major disaster. The Spanish public has become accustomed to no less than complete success. Germany always expects to win. While, Argentina will be playing in their own continent. And recent performances at the World Cup have not been good enough.

Recent Success

Since the 2000 European Championships, Portugal has qualified for every tournament. In that time, they have made four semi-finals (Euro 2000, Euro 2004, Germany 2006, Euro 2012), and failed to make it out of the group stage just once. This is a level of success that is matched by few countries.

The Seleção are drawn into a tough group with Germany, Ghana and the United States. But this is unlikely to phase the team. Portugal was in a similar situation at Euro 2000, South Africa 2010 and Euro 2012. In each case, Portugal advanced into the knockout stage.

Strong Team Mentality

Portugal manager Paulo Bento is often criticized for his conservative approach to tactics and squad selections. However, it does serve a purpose. The core of the group has been together since the Euro 2012 qualification campaign. The Seleção will go into the tournament with a tried and tested system.

Time and time again, the squad has faced adversity. But the character and unity that comes along with a certain level of consistency has helped the squad overcome disappointing results, and bad qualifying campaigns. At Euro 2012, Portugal overcame a loss to Germany in their first match to finish second in the group. And they came within inches of eliminating a far more talented Spanish side in the semi-finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo

He is often sighted as the first reason. There is no player that elevates his country like Cristiano Ronaldo does. But it is the supporting cast that is the key to Portugal’s success. Paulo Bento has certainly succeeded where Carlos Queiroz failed. Ronaldo is not the only threat anymore. He has become the most important element of a system that benefits him and his teammates.

Great players do not win tournaments by themselves. But, they can make the difference in crucial moments. Diego Maradona did not win the 1986 World Cup by himself. It is just part of football folklore. The Argentine great could not have defended every corner, made every pass or scored every goal. Ronaldo cannot do it either, but what he can do is give Portugal every opportunity to win.

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Fábio Coentrão, Real Madrid

A mainstay in the squad since the last World Cup, Fábio Coentrão has been one of Portugal’s most consistent players over that time. This will be the third consecutive tournament for the silver-haired left-back. He was named to the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2012.

Coentrão began playing football as a winger with hometown club Rio Ave. But while at Benfica, manager Jorge Jesus converted him to left-back. Although he has never really lived up to the expectations that came along with his €30 million transfer to Real Madrid in 2011, he has remained a valuable contributor to the club’s success.

This Season: Coentrão battled injuries for most of the first half of the season. He played in only 10 La Liga matches for the club, which includes eight starts. However, he was excellent in the knockout stages of the Champions League, helping Real Madrid win their historic La Décima.

Fun Fact: Fábio Coentrão comes from a family of fishermen and has said repeatedly that he would have likely spent his life working on boats if his football career did not work out. As a youngster, the rest of his family left for France in search of a better life, leaving young Fábio to live with his aunt.

By that time, Coentrão was already tied to Rio Ave and his parents were confident that their son would succeed. It turned out to be an excellent gamble. At Rio Ave, he would become known as the ‘Figo das Caxinas.’ He will go to Brazil with a heavy heart. His father passed away last November. Coentrão dedicated the recent La Décima win to his memory.

João Pereira, Valencia

A attack-minded right-back that is known for his combative behaviour. João Pereira has been an automatic starter since Paulo Bento became manager in 2010. He recently produced an excellent assist on Cristiano Ronaldo’s 48th international goal, which moved the Real Madrid star into first-place on Portugal’s all-time scoring list.

Pereira is a graduate of Benfica’s football academy. He has also played for Gil Vicente, Braga and Sporting Lisbon. In 2012, he moved to La Liga club Valencia where he currently plays. Pereira battled inconsistency and injuries for most of this past season.

This Season: Pereira played in 25 La Liga matches this season with Valencia, starting 23 of those matches. The club finished a very disappointing eighth in the League table. They were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Europa League by eventual winners Sevilla.

Fun Fact: Pereira is one of the few players to have played for city rivals Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. Pereira was originally an attacker with Benfica but was eventually converted to right-back.

André Almeida, Benfica

One of the surprises of the squad. André Almeida is a very reliable defender, who could play on the left and the right sides, as well as in defensive midfield. The 23-year-old received his first international cap in October 2013 in a World Cup qualifier against Israel. Almeida started the match in place of the injured João Pereira.

Almeida was seldom used throughout most of the season. However, after a number of injuries to key players, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus began utilizing him more especially during the club’s Europa League run. He will primarily be counted on to provide defensive support at the back.

This Season: André Almeida played in 10 Primeira Liga matches for Benfica. He helped the club complete the Portuguese treble, winning the League, League Cup and Portuguese Cup championships.

Fun Fact: A native of Lisbon, Almeida has played for all three of the city’s biggest clubs. Originally a Sporting Lisbon youth player, he would join Belenenses in 2007. Benfica would sign him from the second division in 2011.

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

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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

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Benfica have continued to address their need at left-back by signing Brazilian Bruno Cortez to a one-year loan deal. The deal includes an option to sign the 26-year old to a permanent deal at the end of the campaign.

Cortez was unveiled to the public at the Estádio da Luz on Friday. He told Benfica TV that he hopes his first year in Europe could earn him a return to the Brazilian national team ahead of the World Cup in 2014.

“To return will depend on what I am able to do with Benfica. I am on a glorious club, with the help of my teammates I know I could return to the national team,” He said.

“My expectations are high and I am happy to be here. I hope to stay with Benfica forever,” Cortez said about his move to Portugal.

Cortez, who also goes by the Portuguese version of his name Cortês, received one cap with Brazil in 2011 but none since. He has played with Brazilian giants São Paulo since January 2012 after arriving from Botafogo.

The move comes days after Benfica signed Portuguese international Sílvio on loan from La Liga club Atlético Madrid. Benfica have lacked a quality left-back since Fábio Coentrão left for Real Madrid two years ago.

This past season, manager Jorge Jesus played Lorenzo Melgarejo, a converted winger at left-back to mixed results. Towards the end of the season, Jesus moved André Almeida into the position from the right side.

Related Posts

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

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

The Seleção continued their run of impressive form by beating Croatia 1-0 in an international friendly on Monday in Geneva. The win comes just days after Paulo Bento’s club defeated Russia in a crucial World Cup qualifying match.

Paulo Bento fielded a squad that was a mixture of regular starters and bench players. Although Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho and Cristiano Ronaldo started the match. Eduardo received a rare start in goal over Rui Patricio.

The Seleção began the match brightly, creating several good chances in the opening half hour. In the 36th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo took control of the ball just outside the box and struck a good shot past Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašić.

The goal was a well deserved one for Portugal’s captain after inspiring displays in back-to-back matches for the national team. Ronaldo was unlucky not to score another before half-time after a brilliantly executed header bounced off the crossbar and out.

With Ronaldo substituted at half-time, the second half saw a more balanced display from both teams, with good chances being rare on both sides. Croatia was unable to challenge Eduardo in any meaningful way and Portugal held on for the deserving victory.

FC Porto defender Sereno and Sporting Lisbon midfielder Andre Martins would receive their first international caps after coming on as second half substitutes. Portugal will go into the summer break with a renewed sense of confidence after several strong performances.

Paulo Bento looked noticeably pleased with his club’s performance after the final whistle and praised his club’s recent positive form to journalists after the match.

“That makes it three consecutive victories in different contexts: two official matches, with Azerbaijan and Russia, and today in a different context, which could be difficult sometimes especially in the last match of the campaign. But it was a good response from a group that demonstrated coesion and allowed me to use every player over the last two matches.”

“It was also the third straight game that we did not concede a goal. We did not allow many chances, despite there being a few moments in the first half. We faced a good team, but I think the outcome was very well deserved.”

Related Posts:

MATCH REVIEW: Portugal Rebound With A Deserving Win Against Azerbaijan

MATCH REVIEW: Portugal Earn Crucial Victory Over Russia In World Cup Qualifying

PORTUGAL: André Martins In Seleção Squad Ahead Of World Cup Qualifier Against Russia

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

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