Posts Tagged ‘Ivan Cavaleiro’

Carlos Mane Sporting

Portugal’s performance at the FIFA U20 World Cup and UEFA U21 European Championships strengthened the perception that Portuguese football is on the ascendency once again.

Andre Gomes, William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva are just some of the players that have established themselves over the past few seasons. The editors of FutebolFactory.com and PortugalFutbol.net have compiled a list of ten players who they think could make a big breakthrough this season.

José Sá, Maritmo, Goalkeeper

The 22-year-old was excellent this summer at the U21 UEFA European Championships as Portugal’s first-choice backstopper. He conceded only one goal in five match in the tournament before losing to Sweden on penalties in the final.

Sá has only appeared in 11 matches with the senior squad over the last two seasons and has spent most of his time with Maritmo B in the Segunda Liga. Manager Ivo Vieira could turn to Sá if last season’s first-choice Romain Salin falters.

Tobias Figueiredo, Sporting, Centre Back

Long touted as one of Sporting’s finest youth prospects, Tobias Figueiredo began to establish himself in the second-half of last season with the club. From January forward, Tobias managed 12 league starts, which helped him earn a place on the Portuguese squad for the U-21 European Championships.

This season, Tobias faces strong competition at Sporting, now that the club has purchased experienced defenders Naldo and Ewerton. However, he could manage to earn some more playing time under Jorge Jesus, especially in Cup competitions.

João Cancelo, Valencia, Right Back

A product of Benfica’s youth academy, João Cancelo joined Valencia on loan from the Portuguese club last summer. After playing a back-up role in his first season, Valencia purchased Cancelo for €15 million this summer. This season, it remains unclear Cancelo will play a bigger role at the club.

An attacking full-back by trade, Cancelo is just as comfortable going forward and attacking as he is in one-on-one defensive situations. The 21-year-old was also part of Portugal’s U-21 European Championships squad this summer.

Rúben Neves, FC Porto, Defensive Midfielder

It was a dream start to his career for the then 17-year-old last season. He earned a start in Porto’s first match of the season, scoring a goal against Marítimo, becoming the youngest goalscorer in history for the club. He made his first appearance in the Champions league just days later.

However, the emergence of Casemiro and a serious knee injury in December threw his season off course. The 18-year-old has talent in abundance and should have the opportunity to play a bigger role with the club this season.

João Teixeira, Benfica, Midfielder

Last summer, Teixeira was impressive during Benfica’s pre-season, and all signs were pointing towards then-coach Jorge Jesus giving the midfielder a place in the first team. Teixeira was instead relegated to the B team, where he still managed to be one of their top performers.

With Rui Vitoria now in charge at the Luz, it is unclear where Teixeira will fit in the pecking order. Teixeira has been a key figure for Benfica B for over two seasons now, and a promotion to the senior team cannot be far away.

Carlos Mané, Sporting, Winger

The 21-year old has been part of the supporting cast for the club over the last few season. Last year, he managed an impressive nine goals in 41 appearances for Sporting in all competitions. Nani’s departure leaves the door open for Mané to establish himself this season.

Mané comes from a long tradition of skilled wingers that have emerged from the club’s famed academy at Alcochete. He could play on both flanks and has developed a reputation for scoring quality goals. He should flourish in Jorge Jesus’ preferred 4-4-2 formation which will allow him more freedom to drift inside.

Bruma, Real Sociedad (On loan from Galatasaray), Winger

An exciting prospect who burst on to the scene with some electrifying displays for Sporting in 2013. A contract dispute eventually lead to him moving to Turkish club Galatasaray that summer. Two full season’s gone and the talented winger has yet to live up to his immense potential.

A move to La Liga club Real Sociedad could be exactly what he needs. Manager David Moyes developed the reputation for nurturing young talent during his days with Everton. And the Basque club should improve on their 12th place finish from a year ago after some quality signings.

Gonçalo Guedes, Benfica, Winger

Another supremely talented winger. The 18-year-old made his first appearances for Benfica last season but spent most of the campaign with the B squad where he was named the Breakthrough Player of the Season in Portugal’s Segunda Liga.

With Eduardo Salvio facing a long recovery time because of a knee injury, Guedes could see more playing time this season. Benfica’s new manager Rui Vitoria spent some time with the club’s youth academy in the past and could give Guedes and others a chance to flourish.

Ivan Cavaleiro, AS Monaco, Winger

Cavaleiro spent last season on loan at struggling La Liga side Deportivo but still managed more than a few positive moments. He was named to the Team of the Tournament at the U-21 UEFA European Championships and soon after signed with Ligue 1 club AS Monaco.

The club is managed by former Braga and Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim, and boasts several Portuguese internationals which should help Cavaleiro adjust to the new situation. Early signs suggest that Jardim has every intention of making the winger an integral part of his Monaco machine.

Gonçalo Paciência, Académica de Coimbra (On loan from FC Porto), Striker

For some time, the Portuguese National Team has been seriously lacking a quality striker. Since the retirement of Pauleta, Portugal has used several players with Hélder Postiga being the only one to provide any real consistency. Paciência offers the best long-term hope.

He will spent this season on loan at Primeira Liga club Académica, his first full season in top flight. Many Portuguese fans will be watching intently to see how he performs. If he can replicate some of his performances at youth level where he is a prolific goalscorer, Portugal may just resolve their striker conundrum.

This article was a collaboration between Rui Miguel Martins of FutebolFactory.com and Sam Biggers of PortugalFutbol.net.

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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.

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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: SL Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

Photo: SL Benfica/Isabel Cutileiro

There was once again no shortage of intriguing headlines in Portugal this season. For the first time in several years, the League title was a three-horse race for most of the season producing plenty of drama along the way.

Benfica came out on top in the end, winning their 33th Portuguese title. While city rivals Sporting Lisbon firmly re-established themselves as serious contenders after years of financial mismanagement and poor performances.

However, this season was not without its disappointments. FC Porto and Benfica both failed to emerge from the group stage of the Champions League. And Benfica’s inability to win a European competition continued when they lost to Sevilla in the Europa League final.

But despite their modest resources, Portuguese clubs continue to produce elite talent at a level not seen in any other European League of its size. The emergence of William Carvalho, and other young players further added to the perception that Portuguese football is as healthy as ever.

Here now are the top eight storylines from Portugal this season.

Benfica Overcome The Memory Of Last Season’s Collapse

The memory of Benfica’s 2012-13 season is one that Benfica supporters will work hard to forget. The club rebounded in the best possible way by having one of their best seasons in recent memory. Although the loss to Sevilla in the Europa League final was difficult to accept for some fans.

After a relatively poor start to the season, Jorge Jesus’ club were almost perfect from November onwards. The club also appears to have some excellent young players in Lazar Marković, Ivan Cavaleiro and Jan Oblak that could keep the team competitive for years to come.

Revival At Sporting Lisbon

Despite once again falling short of the League title, Sporting Lisbon appears to have put financial ruin and poor performances behind them for good. Os Leões have regained the respect of their fans after some tumultuous years and optimism is high.

How did they do it? By going back to what made the club great in the first place. Not able to spend big like Benfica and FC Porto, manager Leonardo Jardim embraced the club’s famous academy and the results improved. The club went from having three managers last season, to a runner-up position this season. And they are looking forward to Champions League football in 2014-15.

FC Porto Struggles

On a negative note, FC Porto had one of their worst seasons in the Pinto da Costa era. A new manager, too many new players, dysfunction and a lack of squad depth all played a part in a third place finish for the Dragões.

It was unfamiliar territory for the club. Consistency and success is what we have come to expect from Porto over the last two decades. But it would be foolish to assume that Porto’s position as Portugal’s dominate club is coming to an end. The last time they failed to win the Portuguese League in 2009-10, Porto bounced back with a treble winning season.

Marco Silva’s Estoril

The most pleasant surprise this season was Estoril Praia who finished in fourth position. The suburban Lisbon club returned to top flight only two years ago. They managed to match the best finish in their history this season.

Much of the praise must go to their young manager Marco Silva who clearly has a good eye for talent. The club lost several good players last season after finishing a better than expected fifth. This season Gonçalo Santos, Sebá, Evandro and others established themselves as quality players.

Champions League Failures

In fairness, both Benfica and Porto were drawn in to two very difficult groups for this season’s Champions League. However, in past seasons both clubs would find a way to advance to the round of 16. This year, they started poorly and were unable to recover.

Benfica finished tied with Greek club Olympiacos in points with 10, a total that would get most clubs into the round of 16. However, Benfica was unable to beat Olympiacos over two encounters. Porto managed only one win and four goals in six matches.

The Curse of Béla Guttmann Continues

After leading Benfica to their second European Cup victory in 1962, Hungarian manager Béla Guttmann asked for a pay raise and was denied. After resigning, he famously declared ‘Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion.’ The club has lost eight consecutive European finals since.

The latest came in the final of the Europa League against La Liga club Sevilla. Benfica came into the match as slight favourites but were missing a few key players due to suspensions. Despite getting the majority of chances, Benfica were unable to score and eventually lost to Sevilla on penalties.

Portugal’s Emerging Generation

It is no secret that the Primeira Liga is a breeding ground for many promising youngsters looking to develop their talent. But it was an exceptionally good year for emerging home grown talent. The accolades and praise for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho are too numerous to name here.

However, Vitória Setúbal winger Ricardo Horta, Vitória Guimarães defender Paulo Oliveira, Nacional defender Miguel Rodrigues and Braga midfielder Rafa Silva are just some of the best revelations from this past season. Not to mention on-loan striker Bebé who scored an impressive 11 goals for Paços de Ferreira.

Ricardo Quaresma’s Return

Ricardo Quaresma is probably the most polarizing player Portugal has produced in a long while, if ever. He inspires delight and dislike in equal measure. But there is no doubt that his return to FC Porto in January was good for the competition.

The winger dazzled fans with his exceptional skill, once again inspiring many to wonder what could have been. Quaresma was particularly impressive in the Europa League matches against Napoli. He was unable to turn the tide for FC Porto as the Dragões finished a disappointing third. However, he did provide spectacle and thrills along the way.

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 5 Reasons Benfica Won The Portuguese League Title This Season

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

Scout Report – William Carvalho

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

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.

youth-starting-xi5

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

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Scout Report – William Carvalho

bernardo_silva_4

19-year-old Bernardo Silva has been quietly putting together some excellent performances for club and country so far this year.

The attacking midfielder is currently playing with Benfica’s B squad in Portugal’s second division and has begun to establish himself as one of the country’s brightest young stars.

A classic playmaker or number 10, Silva has been a central figure in the most potent offense in Portugal’s second tier this season. Benfica B have scored 43 goals in 21 matches so far.

Silva, playing against mostly experienced professionals, has contributed three goals and five assists for the club. He is exactly the type of player that Portugal have seriously lacked since the days of Rui Costa and Deco.

He is part of an exciting generation of Benfica youth players. Silva, along with winger Ivan Cavaleiro, full-back João Cancelo, and midfielder Andre Gomes are widely seen as exceptional talents destined to play for Portugal.

Under manager Jorge Jesus, the club has preferred to purchase inexpensive imports from mainly South America, but it remains unlikely that they will continue to ignore exceptional players like Bernardo Silva much longer.

Silva has also put in some excellent performances with the U19 and U21 squads so far this year. He was a major part of Portugal’s run to the semi-finals of the U19 European Championships in Lithuania this summer. They lost to Serbia on penalties.

He has also begun to make an impact at the U21 level. In a recent match against Israel, Silva entered at half-time with Portugal trailing 2-1. He proceeded to dribble past no less than five Israeli defenders before passing the ball to FC Porto’s Ricardo Pereira for the tying goal.

Silva would go on to score two goals as Portugal held on to defeat Israel 4-3. The Selecção remain perfect after four matches in qualification for the 2015 European Championships in the Czech Republic.

Portugal has failed to qualify for that tournament three consecutive times but it looks like that streak of futility will end this time around. With players like Silva, Pereira, Cavaleiro, Bruma, Marcos Lopes and others, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the country’s youth system right now.

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Ivan-Cavaleiro

The early season performances of Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro have begun to draw the attention of many people.

The Portuguese winger scored a hat-trick against Academico Viseu this past weekend in the second division where the club’s B squad plays. He is currently the league’s leading scorer with seven goals in ten matches.

The 19-year old, who is currently on international duty with Portugal’s U-21 squad has reportedly been scouted by Manchester United. This sort of attention is overwhelming for any player, let alone a youngster who is still waiting to play his first competitive match with the senior squad.

But Cavaleiro insists that he is focused on developing his game and eventually hopes to play first-team football with Benfica before moving on.

“My job is to earn an opportunity for the first team and this depends on the coach,” Cavaleiro told Portuguese radio station Antena 1. “There are very good forwards at Benfica and it is not easy to get into the first team.”

“For me it’s a huge honour to represent Benfica because it’s the club of my heart. I want to continue here and succeed in the first team.”

The young winger scored 12 goals in 38 matches for Benfica B last season, playing against professionals in Portugal’s second division. Standing at a modest 1,75m, Cavaleiro is most comfortable on the right side but has also seen action on the left and as a centre-forward.

He has also regularly played against players a few years older than him at the international level and done very well. Benfica’s senior side is currently loaded with more experienced wingers, making it difficult for Cavaleiro to take the next step in his career.

Cavaleiro’s former manager at Benfica B Norton de Matos believes that he already has the quality to play with the senior squad.

“Benfica have a strategy to support the growth of players like Ivan Cavaleiro. He has what it takes to get to the main squad. It would be an excellent reward for the great start to the season he is having,” Matos told Antena 1.

“If integrated with the players that Benfica currently have, and properly supported, Ivan has the quality to be a great success.”

andr-g1

Portugal will field an impressive squad for this year’s Toulon Tournament which will begin at the end of May. The tournament is an annual event in southern France and will act as a preparation for next month’s U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

Portugal is drawn in the more difficult group B alongside Belgium, Nigeria, Mexico and Brazil. Mexico is the defending champions of the Toulon Tournament which Portugal did not qualify for last year. Edgar Borges’ club will begin the tournament on May 31st against Belgium in Nîmes. Borges has previously coached Portugal’s U-17 and U-19 squads.

A surprising Portuguese club coached by Ilídio Vale reached the finals of the previous U-20 World Cup in 2011 losing to Brazil. Current Chelsea midfielder Oscar scored all three goals in the final to help defeat Portugal 3-2 in extra time.

The Portuguese squad included Nelson Oliveira, Nuno Reis, Roderick Miranda, Cédric Soares, and Amido Baldé. Brazil did not qualify this year for the World Cup in Turkey. This time around, expectations are much higher for the squad.

Benfica’s André Gomes, Sporting players Tiago Ilori, Betinho and Ricardo Esgaio, Porto’s recent signing Ricardo Pereira, as well as Barcelona’s Agostinho Cá and Edgar Ié were just some of the players added to the squad on Friday.

Notable omissions include Sporting 18-year-old winger Bruma and Manchester City’s Marcos Lopes. The squad for the U-20 World Cup will be announced at a later date.

FULL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: André Pereira (Vitória Guimarães), José Sá (Marítimo) e Rafael Veloso (Belenenses).

Defenders: Edgar Ié (Barcelona), Kiko (Vitória Setúbal), Frederico Venâncio (Vitória Setúbal), Michael (Sporting), Tiago Ilori (Sporting), Tiago Ferreira (FC Porto) e Tomás Dabó (Sporting Braga).

Midfielders: André Gomes (Benfica), Tó Zé (FC Porto), João Mário (Sporting), Agostinho Cá (FC Barcelona), Alves (Belenenses) e Tiago Silva (Belenenses).

Forwards: Aladje (FC Aprilia), Betinho (Sporting), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica), Piqueti (Sporting Braga), Ricardo Pereira (Vitória Guimarães) e Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting).

Manager: Edgar Borges

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