Posts Tagged ‘Left Back’

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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

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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

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Raphaël Guerreiro In Action For FC Lorient

Raphaël Guerreiro In Action For FC Lorient

Portugal U-21 international Raphaël Guerreiro is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising left-backs in the French League.

The 20-year-old has played in every minute of FC Lorient’s League games this season, as of February 25th. He has been instrumental in the club holding down a comfortable position in Ligue 1.

Guerreiro made his senior debut last season with Caen in Ligue 2 and was named to the league’s Team of the Year, as a 19-year-old. He reportedly turned down a chance to sign with bigger clubs this summer in favour of more playing time at Lorient.

Born in France to a Portuguese father and a French mother, Guerreiro told French football publication So Foot in a December 2013 interview that playing for Portugal at the World Cup would be the greatest honour.

Although, he admitted that he has a lot of work to do before he could be considered for the Selecção. Portugal has depth on the left side, with Fábio Coentrão widely expected to start in Brazil.

In a September 2013 interview with the French edition of Eurosport he said that he has always felt a closer connection to his father’s homeland. Before joining Caen, Guerreiro would often go on vacation in the Algarve.

Like his father, he is a supporter of Benfica. But Guerreiro’s greatest ambition at club level is to play with Portugal’s greatest star Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

Relatively unknown in Portugal before last season, Guerreiro was called to the U-21 squad for the first time in March 2013. U-21 manager Rui Jorge has regularly selected him for the squad this season as they hope to qualify for the 2015 European Championships in the Czech Republic.

He spent part of his early training at Clairefontaine, an iconic training academy near Paris that has helped develop many of France’s greatest players. At only 20 years of age, Guerreiro has already demonstrated that he could play at a high level and do well. Many people are predicting a very bright future for the youngster.

In January 2014, he was named as one of the ten best young players in Ligue 1 from the first half of the season by French football publication Le 10 Sport.

Guerreiro is known for his speed and agility, which allows him to be an offensive threat on the left side. He is known for his ability to pass and deliver crosses into the box. Also, he does not neglect his defensive responsibilities.

According to the online Football statistics website Squawka, Guerreiro has completed 78 percent of his passes this season. He has also won 65 percent of his battles, which includes a 54 percent success rate in tackles. He has received only one yellow card all season in Ligue 1.

“He has all the qualities to succeed. He possesses above-average technical ability, intelligence and he always concentrates on the game. He is a humble young man who loves football,” Lorient manager Christian Gourcuff said.

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

FEATURE: The Top Breakthrough Performers So Far This Season

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

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

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

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

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

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

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

STARTING XI:

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

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

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

Paulo Oliveira, Vitória Guimarães, Centre Back

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

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

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Central Defender

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

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

Luis Martins, Gil Vicente, Left-Back

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

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

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

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

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

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon, Defensive Midfielder

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

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

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Central Midfielder

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

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

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

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

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

Diogo Viana, Gil Vicente, Winger

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

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

Fredy, Belenenses, Winger

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

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

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

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

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

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SUBSTITUTES:

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

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Valencia Confirm Deal For Central Defender Rúben Vezo

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

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

Scout Report – William Carvalho

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.

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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

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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.

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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

Portuguese international Sílvio was not named to the Atlético de Madrid’s squad that will train at Los Ángeles de San Rafael this week, fueling speculation that a move to Benfica is imminent.

The 25-year-old full-back has been linked with a move to the Estádio da Luz in recent weeks, likely on a loan deal. Jorge Jesus’ club has been in need of a left-back since the departure of Fábio Coentrão two years ago.

Former Portuguese international midfielder Tiago Mendes was part of the squad that will train under manager Diego Simeone. Winger Pizzi was also included in the squad despite being linked with Sporting Lisbon this summer.

Silvio moved to the La Liga club in 2011 after an impressive season at Sporting Braga. Injuries have hampered his development in the Spanish capital since then. He did play well in a short loan spell with Deportivo La Coruña this past season.

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Sílvio Joins Deportivo La Coruña On Loan

joaozinho6

Sporting Braga have officially announced the signing of left-back Joãozinho from Beira-Mar. The 23-year-old played the second half of last season on loan at Sporting Lisbon. In 27 total league matches, he scored one goal and pitched in another 4 assists for both Beira-Mar and Sporting Lisbon.

He is likely to compete with Florent Hanin for the starting position on the left side. Elderson, who was the club’s starting left-back last season is expected to leave this summer.

“For me, it is a great honour to represent a club with the history of Sporting Braga. I do not have any doubt that this is a step forward in my career and I will do all I can to honour this sweater,” Joãozinho said Friday at the news conference.

Joãozinho will once again play under Jesualdo Ferreira who managed Sporting Lisbon at the second half of last season. “Professor Jesualdo has really helped my career and it will be once again a great honour to continue to evolve under one of the best Portuguese managers.”

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Sporting Lisbon Interested in Beira-Mar’s Left-Back Joãozinho

jefferson2-e1354923022922

Sporting have signed left-back Jefferson from Estoril to a contract that will see the Brazilian stay with the club until 2017. The 24-year-old was unveiled to the media on Wednesday night by club president Bruno de Carvalho. It was the Lisbon club’s first acquisition of the summer transfer period.

Jefferson was one of the best performers this year for Estoril, who surprised everyone by finishing an impressive fifth in the Portuguese League. In all competitions, Jefferson scored 5 goals and pitched in 2 assists in 28 total matches.

“I am very happy to be able to play for one of the biggest clubs in Portugal. I chose Sporting because I know the scale of the challenge that the players will face: to place the club back to the high level it should always be at. In all the clubs I have played on, I have always given all I can,” Jefferson told media.

Club president Carvalho spoke about how Jefferson represents a new vision that he hopes will emerge at Alvalade next season. “We will have a club that is more ambitious, with vigor and desire and this is exactly what he represents. Our objective is to have our fans satisfied with the club again.”

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SPORTING LISBON: Leonardo Jardim Appointed New Manager At Alvalade On A Two-Year Deal

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Jan SOLO

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Jan SOLO

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opening goal of the match, as Real Madrid easily defeated Turkish-side Galatasaray in Champions League action on Wednesday. Fábio Coentrão also started the match for Los Blancos and Pepe came on as a late substitute in the Real Madrid victory.

In the 9th minute, Mesut Ozil found Cristiano Ronaldo alone on the fast break. The Portuguese star chipped it over Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera for the opening goal. Ronaldo would come close again off a free-kick before the end of the first-half.

Karim Benzema would score for Real Madrid in the 29th minute, while Gonzalo Higuaín followed with a third goal in the second half to give the Spanish giants a decisive 3-0 win. The second leg of the quarter-final match-up will be played April 9th in Istanbul.

After the match Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho acknowledged that his club was in an ideal situation going into the second leg but added that it was important not to underestimate their opponents.

“I have enough experience to understand that we have a very good result, but that it is not over. I will try everything in my power to convince my players of that, and that we have go there seriously.”

“Of course, if we score one goal, they have to score five. But I think we have to go there with the same mentality.”

In other Champions League action on Wednesday, Málaga and Borussia Dortmund played to a 0-0 draw. Portuguese left-back vitorino Antunes played the full match for the Spanish side, while former Portugal international Duda came on as a late substitute. The second leg will be played in Germany next Tuesday.

FUTEBOL - antunes no treino da Seleccao AA de Futebol Na Praia D¿el

Left-back Vitorino Antunes joined the Selecção at their training facility in Óbidos on Tuesday. Paulo Bento had originally left him out of the Portugal squad for two upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifying matches announced last week.

Antunes’ call-up was considered by some to be long overdue. Antunes has been in terrific form this season with Portuguese club Paços de Ferreira and on-loan with La Liga club Málaga. He was a late selection to the squad, and his place will not impact any other player’s position in the squad.

The 25-year-old already has 3 caps to his credit, having first been called up in 2007. But after being signed to Italian giants AS Roma, he did not received much playing time and his career began to stagnate.

Upon arriving with his teammates in Óbidos, Antunes talked about what representing Portugal means to him. “I have worked very hard to be called up. The news was very welcome at home by my family and especially by me. I am always very proud to represent Portugal,” he said.

He was also asked whether he thought he deserved to be selected earlier. “Should I been called sooner? I cannot make that sort of evaluation. I just need to do my work, give my all with my club and in the opportunities that arise. The manager thought it was the right time to call me,” Antunes added.

It has certainly been a long journey for him. Antunes began playing for his local club Freamunde in the third level of Portuguese football. In 2006, he was signed by near-by Paços de Ferreira where he began to make a name for himself at the professional level.

While at Paços, Antunes helped the club finish 6th in 2006-07 and qualify for European competition for the first time in the provincial club’s history. He played in the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and received his first call-up to the Portuguese national team that year.

It looked like Antunes would be Portugal’s left-back of the future. Many clubs took notice, but Antunes was signed by Serie A giants AS Roma on loan for the 2007-08 campaign. Despite playing sparingly that year under then manager Luciano Spalletti, the club exercised an option to sign him to a permanent deal.

The following season, he was sent on loan to newly promoted Lecce. This was followed by another loan to Portuguese-side Leixões, followed by Livorno and Panionios in Greece.

In June 2012, Antunes was finally released by Roma. His old club Paços de Ferreira eventually re-signed him to a new three-year deal. Antunes quickly took advantage of his new opportunity, earning a starting position at left-back with Paulo Fonseca’s club.

Antunes was one of the best performers in the first half of the Portuguese Championship, starting 14 matches and scoring 3 goals for the surprising Paços de Ferreira side who currently stand in fourth position.

His performances earned him a loan deal to La Liga’s Málaga who were looking to replace Nacho Monreal, now at Arsenal. Antunes has been manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first-choice left-back from the start. Most recently, Antunes helped the Spanish side eliminate Porto in the Champions League.