Posts Tagged ‘Vitoria de Guimarães’

William and Brahimi

Eight matchdays have now been played in the domestic Portuguese calendar and the time is right for fans and media alike to start making conclusions about what has transpired so far. The first Classico of the season which took place at Alvalade between Sporting CP and FC Porto was no doubt the highlight of this past weekend. The goalless draw re-affirmed what most have been thinking which is that the title will likely rest with one of those clubs at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Benfica’s struggles continued as they drew 1-1 in Madeira against Maritimo. Braga put six past Estoril. And this season’s promoted clubs Aves and Portimonense played one another in a 2-2 draw. Aves let Ricardo Soares go on Monday, replacing him with Lito Vidigal. Now, the clubs will get a chance to rest and re-assess during the international break.

Futebol Factory takes a closer look at what is happening in the Portuguese game with a new segment called Who’s Hot and Who’s Not.

Trending Up

Braga

The ‘Best of the Rest’ have been one of the top stories so far this season. New signings Dyego Sousa, Fransergio and Raul Silva have proven to be more than worth their investment. And Abel seems to be getting more out of players like Hassan and Ricardo Horta. Better still, Bruno Xadas, a player Abel knows well from the B squad, could just be the next big thing to come out of Minho. With a deep and balanced squad, Braga could knock one of the top three off their high horse.

Sporting’s New Signings

The most common criticism of the Lisbon club over the last decade and a half has been their recruiting policy. Last season, their summer signings (Bas Dost aside) were nothing short of disappointing and the club looked out of the title race by November. This season, they appear to be co-favourites and much credit should go to new signings like Bruno Fernandes, Mathieu and Rodrigo Battaglia, who have been among their best players. It might just be enough to finally bring the league title back to Alvalade.

Sérgio Conceição

In a short time, he has done wonders at the Dragão. A loss against Besiktas aside, FC Porto are the most in-form team in Portugal at the moment. Conceição has quickly set out to integrate several players returning from loan spells like Ricardo Pereira, Moussa Marega and Vincent Aboubakar which have all been excellent for him so far. And he seems to be getting more out of centre-back duo Felipe and Marcano, as well as Yacine Brahimi.

Trending Down

Benfica

The international break could not come soon enough at Luz. Benfica followed up an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Basel mid-week with a 1-1 draw against Maritimo on Sunday. The match was an opportunity to gain some ground on Sporting and Porto but they could not get the job done despite going ahead very early. While it is true that Benfica have experienced some early season struggles on a few occasion in recent years and still went on to win four league titles. The truth is that in the past they had the players to do it. It is difficult to see that happening with the current crop.

Aves and Portimonense

Life has been difficult for promoted clubs in recent years mainly because the financial gap between Portugal’s top two divisions has become more of a chasm, with Chaves being a notable exception last season. So far, both Aves and Portimonense have not looked up to task and history has shown that it will likely get tougher for them as the season continues when the top clubs reach full stride.

Vitória de Guimarães

Braga’s resurgence is a direct contrast to their great rivals Vitória who have struggled out of the gate. Fourth-place finishers last season, they currently sit in ninth after eight rounds of action. And they have only one point through two matches in the Europa League so far. Their 1-0 loss to Belenenses on Sunday also left much to be desired. It is still early and panic has not set in for Pedro Martins just yet but it might be time to make some changes.

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Amido-Balde

After weeks of speculation, Scottish club Celtic have finally announced the signing of Portuguese striker Amido Baldé to a four-year contract. The 22-year-old leaves Vitória Guimarães after only one year, scoring nine goals in 27 matches.

In an official press conference in Glasgow on Thursday night, Baldé expressed his excitement at having the opportunity to play for one of Europe’s greatest clubs.

“I have watched a lot of matches from Celtic and seen a lot of players. I want to feel the same way as my new team-mates felt against Barcelona. I want to experience that feeling playing in the Champions League for Celtic.”

“I felt proud when watching that game. It was a fantastic feeling as Barcelona are a big team and that meant Celtic are a very good team and a very good club and that is why I am here. I saw the Celtic supporters and I loved it.”

“They have won a lot of trophies, one of the best clubs in Europe and play in the Champions League – that is why I am here.”

A product of Sporting Lisbon’s famed academy, Baldé endured loan spells at Santa Clara, Badajoz, and finally Cercle Brugge in Belgium before he was released by the club in the summer of 2012. He would eventually sign with Vitória Guimarães, where he would help them win the Portuguese Cup in his only season.

Standing at 1.93m, Baldé is often regarded in the British game as ‘an old-fashioned centre-forward,’ with great physical strength, who could be strong in the air as well.

“My style is quite similar to Emmanuel Adebayor,” he added. “I like to set up goals as well but I am here to score goals.”

“I am a fighter, a believer,” said the striker. “I believe in myself. I have worked hard to be in this position today of wearing a Celtic shirt. I have worked for it and deserve it.”

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TRANSFER WINDOW: Several Premier League Clubs Chase Vitória de Guimarães Striker Amido Baldé

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Alface

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Alface

Benfica have formally announced the signing of manager Jorge Jesus to a new two-year contract with the club. The deal will see Jesus under contract until July 2015.

The news ends weeks of speculation about the future of Jesus, who has been with the club for four seasons. After winning the Portuguese league in his first year with the club in 2009-10, Jesus has seen FC Porto win the last three champions.

This past season, the club gave up a 4 point lead in the domestic league with only three matches to play after drawing with Estoril and losing 2-1 to eventual champions Porto. To make matters worse, Benfica would lose the Europa League final to Chelsea and the Portuguese Cup final to Vitória de Guimarães.

Since arriving from Sporting Braga in 2009, Jesus has succeeded in restoring the credibility of the club in the domestic game and in European championships. However, Benfica have not been able to break FC Porto’s dominance in domestic football in his time.

Portuguese football publication Record estimates that the club has made almost €170million from players sales during Jesus’ time at the club. Luisão, Maxi Pereira and Oscar Cardozo are the only players that remain with the club from before Jesus’ tenure began in 2009.

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OPINION: Jorge Jesus And Others Should Look To A Balanced Approach In Developing Talent

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Amido Baldé could be a member of Scottish Champions Celtic as early as this week, according to Portuguese football website Maisfutebol. Representatives from the club are currently in Portugal meeting with the player’s agent Cátio Baldé, and club president Júlio Mendes to negotiate his transfer.

Reports surfaced last week in the English media that the club was advancing their attempts to sign Baldé, who has drawn the attention of many clubs after an excellent season in Portugal. It is believed Celtic is offering £2.5million for him.

It is believed that Baldé would be a replacement for Gary Hooper who is expected to leave this summer. Baldé told Scottish newspaper The Daily Record that he could make fans quickly forget about Hooper.

“I think I could go on and be the best striker in Scotland – and one of the best in Europe. Celtic will obviously be playing in Europe again next season and that’s a big thing for me,” Baldé told The Daily Record.

“I know they have been watching me for some time – with teams in England and Spain as well – but the important thing to me is that I sign for a team who are playing Champions League football because that is the level I believe I should be playing at.”

Celtic have been interested in Baldé for some time. It is believed that he underwent a trial with the club before he signed with Vitória Guimarães last summer. His performance this year only rekindled their interest in him. Baldé scored 9 goals in 27 league matches with the club, and helped them beat Benfica in the Portuguese Cup final a week ago.

According to Maisfutebol, Vitória Guimarães owns only 35 percent of Baldé’s rights. His manager Cátio Baldé owns 55 percent, while his former club Sporting Lisbon own the remaining 10 percent.

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MATCH REVIEW: Vitória Guimarães Beat Benfica To Win Portuguese Cup

Vitória Guimarães defeated Benfica 2-1 in the finals of the Portuguese Cup on Sunday afternoon, giving the Cidade Berço club its first trophy in history. In contrast, the loss means a season without a trophy for Jorge Jesus’ Benfica club which will only put more pressure on club president Luís Filipe Vieira to make major changes.

Over a two-week period, Benfica conceded the domestic league to rivals FC Porto, lost to Chelsea in the Europa League finals and lost in the finals in the Portuguese Cup. Benfica’s fans hope for a historic treble have quickly turned to tragedy.

The match at Estádio Nacional in Jamor, near Lisbon began well for the favourites when Vitória defender Kanú’s clearance went in off Nicolas Gaitán to give Benfica the advantage at the half-hour mark. Benfica seemed in control at the half but disaster would soon strike.

Late in the second half, Benfica goalkeeper Artur’s poor clearance attempt fell to Vitoria’s Crivellaro in the middle of the pitch who passed it on to Soudani for the tying goal. Just moments later, Vitoria winger Ricardo Pereira did well to dribble past several Benfica defenders and fired a decent shot on goal. Artur misread the ball and it trickled in to give Vitória Guimarães the win.

Man of the Match Ricardo, along with teammate Tiago Rodrigues was playing his final match for the club after completing a transfer to FC Porto several weeks ago. The match did not lack drama after the final whistle either. Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo would confront and shove manager Jorge Jesus before he was restrained by several teammates.

Benfica’s disasterous finish to the season will unfortunately overshadow the terrific accomplishments by manager Rui Vitória and his young Vitória Guimarães squad. The Minho club who are based in the birthplace of Portugal’s first king win their first trophy in its 91 year history.

“We always believed in ourselves. The Benfica goal was unjust, because it went off a shoulder. At the half, we were very calm, I told the squad that we just had to raise our intensity. The young players deserve to be congratulated. We have some great talent. A large number of Portuguese do not know Guimarães but today we showed what it means to win,” manager Rui Vitória told RTP 1 television.

Guimarães striker Amido Baldé, who is another young player linked to a move abroad praised the club’s character. “We are fully deserving of this because of all the hard work we put in this season. We are very happy. We are a hard-working and humble squad.”

It was also a special accomplishment for former Benfica and Wolfsburg defender Alex who despite not playing in the final was a big part of the young club’s success this season. The 33-year-old captained the squad and is credited with mentoring many of its good young players.

“This was a hardworking squad, with a great amount of personal quality as well who were always well prepared for its opponents. What I often said to them was not always what they wanted to hear, but they never backed down from adversity on the pitch. I will always cherish this squad in my heart. It was a great pleasure and privilege to captain Vitória Sport Club in a year that will live on forever,” Alex said after the win.

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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.