Posts Tagged ‘Right Winger’

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

Portugal’s great hope. Cristiano Ronaldo will go into the tournament as the reigning World Footballer of the Year, as well as the consensus best player in the World. The Portuguese captain is at the height of his individual ability, although there are concerns about his fitness.

Once widely criticized for his perceived lack of productivity with the national team, Ronaldo is now Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer. He proved that he could lead his country deep in a major tournament at Euro 2012. However, the 29-year-old needs to win the World Cup to establish himself as one of the greatest players in history.

This Season: It was another excellent season for the global superstar. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in La Liga, winning the Pichichi award as the league’s top scorer. He also set a new single season record for Champions League goals with 17, helping Real Madrid win La Décima.

Fun Fact: Cristiano Ronaldo was recently named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People. His profile was written by none other than Pelé who compares the Real Madrid forward to former Portuguese international Eusébio. He writes that the two have ‘the same elegance and creativity.’

Nani, Manchester United

The Manchester United winger is almost as vital to Portugal’s success as Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani is coming off an injury-plagued season. A healthy and productive Nani would be a major boost to Portugal’s chances. He has formed a good partnership with Ronaldo in the past.

This will be Nani’s third major tournament with Portugal. He was forced to withdraw from the 2010 World Cup because of a shoulder injury. Nani had a good Euro 2012, which included being named the Man of the Match in Portugal’s 3-2 group stage win against Denmark.

This Season: Nani struggled through groin and hamstring injuries this season. He played in only 11 League matches for Manchester United.

Fun Fact: Nani is trained in Capoeira, a kind of Brazilian martial arts dance. He has been known to celebrate a goal by doing the ‘Leap of death’ move.

Vieirinha, Wolfsburg

The 28-year-old was an excellent player for Portugal’s youth squads but only received his first senior selection in March 2013. Vieirinha has put together some excellent performances for the Seleção in limited action.

Vieirinha suffered a serious knee injury last September and was thought to be ruled out for the World Cup. He returned in time to play in Wolfsburg’s final Bundesliga matches. A product of FC Porto’s academy, Vieirinha moved to Greek club PAOK in 2008. He was signed by Wolfsburg in 2012 after several stellar seasons.

This Season: Vieirinha appeared in 11 Bundesliga matches for Wolfsburg. The German club finished a solid fifth in the league table.

Fun Fact: Vieirinha was named the Player of the Tournament at the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, which Portugal won by beating rivals Spain in the final. He was also named PAOK’s Player of the Season twice, as well as the Greek Super League’s Best Foreign Player in 2011.

Silvestre Varela, FC Porto

The 29-year-old has been primarily used as an impact substitute during his time with the Seleção. He scored a memorable goal against Denmark to give Portugal a 3-2 win in the group stage of Euro 2012. He currently has 22 caps for Portugal.

Silvestre Varela is a graduate of Sporting Lisbon’s youth academy. But after spending several seasons on loan, he moved to Estrela Amadora. FC Porto signed him in 2009 and he has been a productive player for the club ever since. He has won the Primeira Liga on three occasions, the Portuguese Cup twice, and the Europa League in 2010-11.

This Season: Silvestre Varela played in 25 League matches for FC Porto, scoring five goals and adding another five assists. But the Dragões had a very disappointing season by their standards, finishing third in the league table.

Fun Fact: Silvestre Varela appeared to be a lock for South Africa 2010 after an impressive first season with Porto. However, he broke his left fibula in training ruling him out for the entire tournament.

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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.”

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Vitória de Guimarães winger Ricardo and central midfielder Tiago Rodrigues will join FC Porto next season. The President of Vitória de Guimarães Júlio Mendes confirmed to media on Wednesday that the two players will sign permanent deals with FC Porto that will last until 2018.

The deal could not be made official until June. Mendes added that there are still some financial issues to work out, including the transfer fee that will be paid to Vitória de Guimarães. However, all indications suggest that Ricardo and Rodrigues will be Portistas this summer.

Both players have played a big part in Vitória de Guimarães’ successful campaign so far. This week they defeated Belenenses to advance to the final of the Taça de Portugal or Portuguese Cup, the country’s biggest domestic cup competition.

Born Ricardo Domingos Barbosa Pereira in Lisbon, Ricardo has played as a right winger for manager Rui Vitória. At 19 years of age, he has already established himself as a very promising prospect. Ricardo has scored 5 goals in 32 games in all competitions this season. He previously belonged to the Sporting Lisbon and Naval youth system before signing with Vitória in 2011-12.

21-year-old Tiago Rodrigues also played with Escola Diogo Cão, before being signed by Sporting Lisbon and eventually Vitória de Guimarães. After being loaned to Amarante last season, Rodrigues began this campaign with Vitória’s B squad in the second tier Liga De Honra.

Rodrigues’ impressive performances with the squad caught the attention of senior club manager Rui Vitória. Rodrigues began playing regularly in the Portuguese top flight in January and has not looked back. He has scored three goals and notched another 5 assists in 18 matches with the senior club. Rodrigues is known for being very strong on set pieces as well.