Tag Archives: Liga NOS

Remembering Greatness: Ricardo Carvalho

Between the early 00’s and mid 2010’s the manager who running football was none other than Jose Mourinho.

Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid all hosted the Portuguese gaffer, and at three of those clubs he made sure that he had the great Ricardo Carvalho with him marshalling the defence for him.

From a period of having flowing locks to essentially going bald, Carvalho was a standout defender wherever he went and always shone, yet he never seemed to get the full credit that he really deserved.

Coming through the FC Porto academy, Carvalho was well known for his excellent tackling and dominant aerial ability. Positionally he was always flawless and he always had leadership qualities that shone through in a team full of quality footballers.

After breaking through into the Porto first-team, he found himself third choice behind the legendary duo of Jorge Andrade and captain Jorge Costa. It wasn’t long until he took the place of the skipper though and formed a tremendous partnership at the heart of the defence as Porto came second in the league.

He lost his place when Mourinho first came to Porto, with Costa earning his place back after Andrade left for Deportivo and partnering Pedro Emmanuel. He soon earned his place back once more though and as Porto went on to win the UEFA Cup by beating Celtic 3-2 after extra-time. His performances were so good that he even earned the individual honours of Porto player of the year and Portuguese League Footballer of the year.

The following year was when Carvalho became a true household name. A regular starter now under Mourinho, he led Porto to a second consecutive Primeira Liga title but also to a stunning win in the UEFA Champions League tournament. During that season he featured in every game during the competition, including the 3-0 final win over Monaco.

His performances were enough to secure him a place in the team of the tournament and earn him a call up to the Portuguese national team for Euro 2004. Once again he was deemed first choice there too as the Seleccao made it to the final, only to be beaten in the final by Greece on home turf.

Carvalho started all six of Portugal’s games, reuniting with Andrade in defence, and he made it into the UEFA team of the tournament, while also finishing ninth in the Ballon d’Or voting for 2004 and being the only defender to finish in the top ten.

He earned himself a big money move to Chelsea that summer, following Mourinho to his next destination. It was there where he formed his most famous partnership alongside Mr. Chelsea, John Terry. Together they were the mainstays in a defence that conceded just 15 goals across the entire league campaign as they won the title, a record that still stands to this day.

The following season they conceded just 22 times as they lifted the title a second time the following year, with Carvalho once again a star. He went on to feature 210 times for the Blues, winning three Premier League titles and two League Cups during his six seasons before opting for a move to Real Madrid – who were managed by Mourinho.

Once again he stepped into the team as a level headed, dominant defender and formed a great partnership alongside Portuguese national team colleague Pepe. In his first season with the club he was indispensable as Madrid won the Copa Del Rey, featuring 48 times across all competitions. In his second year he was first-choice until picking up an injury that kept him out of action.

During that spell Sergio Ramos moved to centre-back, where he would go on to become one of the best ever, and Carvalho lost his place at Madrid from that point onwards. Los Blancos won La Liga in record-breaking fashion that year, before he eventually moved on to Monaco to see out his career.

But during his time in France, he is more remembered for making a return to the national team to win Euro 2016. He started all three group games before being dropped for the knockout stages and his experience and leadership were credited largely within the squad, as the country won their first ever major international honour, beating host nation France in the final in extra time.

A phenomenal defender in his prime he was the perfect foil for his partners. Intelligent and dripping with technique and finesse, Carvalho was also always strong enough physically to never be bullied. He had pace to win foot races, a picture perfect slide tackle and a will to win.

Without a doubt one of the best defenders of his generation, Carvalho will go down as one of his nations best ever and a legend at two different clubs. Remember his greatness.

FC Porto vs Chelsea – Champions League quarter-final predictions

The UEFA Champions League is back with some absolutely mouth watering ties as we enter the quarter-final stage of the competition.

The biggest opportunity for an upset comes in this fixture as the champions of Portugal FC Porto take on 2012 European champions Chelsea in the last eight of the competition, with the Premier League side heavy favourites to make it through to the next round.

Porto pulled off a huge upset in the last 16 when they took on Juventus, defeating them 2-1 at the Dragao Stadium in the first leg before securing a stunning away goal in extra-time at the Allianz Stadium to eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and co from the competition with a 4-4 aggregate win thanks to the away goals rule. Chelsea on the other hand were solid and pulled off an upset of their own in some ways, beating Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid both home and away without conceding a goal for a 3-0 aggregate win.

Both teams have had interesting campaigns domestically too, despite their successes in Europe.

Porto currently sit in second place in the Primeira Liga, seven points behind league leaders Sporting CP having played a game more than their rivals. Chelsea on the other hand find themselves outside of the top four following a humiliating 5-2 defeat to West Brom at the weekend, the first time they’ve tasted defeat under Tuchel since he joined in January.

The result at Stamford Bridge seemed to undo a lot of Tuchel’s good work at the club since his arrival. The team had conceded only twice before then and only once by an opposition player with Takumi Minamino standing alone in that regard.

Despite taking the lead, when Chelsea went down to 10 men Tuchel seemed to show a stubbornness defensively by refusing to change his system away from five at the back throughout the entire game. It’s also worth noting that Chelsea have hardly been peppering their opposition with goals either, with the Blues failing to score more than two in any game under the German coach.

Porto will take great encouragement from that, with their tremendous defensive record this season the cornerstone to their success. They were able to hold Juventus off for much of the first leg before a fine wonder goal from Federico Chiesa, while in the second leg most of the Serie A side’s chances came from crosses into the box with Alvaro Morata scuffing them.

Olivier Giroud could be the most useful option in the sense, but Tuchel seems to favour using his German counterparts in Kai Havertz and Timo Werner in the most attacking role on the pitch.

Being possession heavy as they are, Porto will be happy to sit back and invite the pressure from Chelsea and look to hit them on the counter attack with influential playmaker Sergio Oliveira likely to have a big say if they are to be successful.

For Chelsea, Mason Mount continues to be their best and most influential player this season and his performances tend to have a big say on the Blues’ performances. He was rested for the West Brom game at the weekend and only came on at half-time, with the side already 2-1 down and playing with only ten men.

His energy, drive and use of the ball are his best attributes and if he can become more polished in the final third then he could really elevate his game to become a top attacking midfielder. For now though, he is the man who is in charge of getting the ball from midfield to the most attacking players who can make things happen.

Porto will need to shut him down to stop Chelsea and with the likelihood of Tuchel continuing to play with a three-at-the-back system, they will need to be clinical once again with any chances they get.

Overall, Chelsea’s quality should shine through. Juventus had been horrendous all season and while they were still favourites it wasn’t the biggest surprise when they struggled. It would be a shock if Chelsea were unable to eventually break Porto down considering Juventus scored four over the two games and extra-time, while defensively they have been solid for the most part under Tuchel taking last weekend’s game off the table.

I think both games will end up being quite tight affairs with minimal chances, but the Blues’ added quality in the attacking third and fact they’re so dominant in possession should see them be successful.


PREDICTION

FC Porto 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 2-1 FC Porto
(Chelsea to progress 3-1 on aggregate)

Champions League last 16 predictions – FC Porto vs Juventus

The Champions League is back and the last 16 has thrown up some absolutely beautiful ties to see who can progress into the quarter finals.

On Wednesday we’ll see Portuguese champions FC Porto take on Italian champions Juventus, with the main story of both their campaigns so far being domestic under-performance.

Porto currently sit in second place in the Primera Liga, ten points behind the leaders Sporting CP. After winning two of the last three titles, ‘Dragoes’ have struggled to get up and running and their performances have been largely disappointing for fans.

Juventus on the other hand were on a collision course for their tenth successive Serie A title, but a poor season so far under new manager Andrea Pirlo sees them currently in fourth place in the table eight points behind league leaders Inter Milan.

Star man Cristiano Ronaldo returns to his homeland in good form, having scored three goals in his last four games and as a former Sporting man he will want to make an impact at a former rivals home ground. It’s easy to assume he will make said impact too, considering this is his tournament above any other.

Porto have their own star man from the Portugal national team that spent a large chunk of his career at Real Madrid, with veteran defender Pepe plying his trade back in blue and white stripes these days.

The two will go head to head directly with Ronaldo normally played through the middle as a central striker, and it’s likely the 36-year-old attacker will get the upper hand simply because his team is much better.

FBL-EUR-NATIONS-SWE-POR : News Photo

Juventus will control the tempo of the game and the possession in the midfield, while defensively they should still be good enough to keep a struggling Porto side relatively quiet.

If Pirlo opts for a 4-4-2 formation, it will likely be a closer game with Porto opting for the same formation. If the young coach is smart, he’ll go with the 3-5-2 formation that the club have used for so many years before and. With that, they’ll be able to outnumber Porto all over the pitch and still maintain a strong attacking threat too as well as having the better individuals in the side.

All in all, despite Juventus’ troubles this season they should still have more than enough about them to dispatch of Porto in relatively comfortable fashion. Expect big performances from Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Mattijs De Ligt as the Old Lady move into the last eight.

PREDICTION:

FC Porto 1-2 Juventus
Juventus 3-0 FC Porto
(Juventus progress 5-1 on aggregate)

Champions League Round of 16 Draw – First Thoughts

The Champions League round of 16 draw has taken place and it has thrown up eight intriguing fixtures for the next round of the competition.

Following the conclusion of the group stages last week, the 16 teams consisting of three from the Premier League, three from Serie A, four from La Liga, four from the Bundesliga and one each from Ligue 1 and Portugal’s Liga NOS.

With eight fixtures made that will undoubtedly bring intrigue, drama and quality football, lets take a look at the draw and make some quick predictions.

Image

The best game of the draw is undoubtedly the current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid coming up against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side.

Diego Simeone’s side have been in great form this season domestically, although in Europe they only managed to seal qualification on the final match day. Defensively we already know what to expect from Los Rojiblancos, but going forward they’ve been more adventurous this season. Joao Felix has been in great form and with Luis Suarez up front now, his quality is still evident even though physically he isn’t what he once was.

Chelsea have a deep squad but have struggled against the better sides so far this season when it comes to scoring goals. Defensively they have been much better though so a tight affair is likely to ensue.

In a more attacking game elsewhere in the draw, Neymar returns to the Camp Nou as PSG will take on Barcelona.

The Parisians came out on top in the ‘group of death’, toppling RB Leipzig and Manchester United and will take on Barcelona, who lost top spot thanks to a final matchday mauling from Juventus at home.

Both teams have struggled this season, but Barcelona more so. Lionel Messi has failed to hit his usual standards after his summer transfer saga and it has hit the Catalan side hard. They’ve struggled to score goals at their usual rate, while defensively they are more open than ever before in recent memory.

Manchester City will take on Gladbach, who qualified ahead of Inter Milan, while Liverpool will take on RB Leipzig who defeated Manchester United on the final match day to qualify ahead of them.

Keep an eye out for our previews and predictions for each individual game soon and then again closer to game day in February when we form and injuries are more known.

Is Ruben Dias The Answer To Manchester City Centre Back Issue?

After Vincent Kompany left the club back in the summer of 2019, Manchester City were always short in central defence. Not just in numbers, but in quality.

The Belgian left after a 10 year spell in Manchester, meaning Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Eric Garcia were the only recognised centre-backs at the club. Rather than replace him Pep Guardiola opted to use Fernandinho in defence which was fine when Laporte played, but when he didn’t (which was often) they looked shaky.

This summer City have prioritised a central defender with real quality, with Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli the number one target for the club. Nathan Ake was brought in to shore up numbers too, but Koulibaly remained the man that was most often linked to bolstering the back line.

After months of negotiations, the deal has failed to move forward and City have reportedly move on to other targets with just 9 days left of the transfer window. Jules Kounde of Sevilla was subject to a €55million bid last week, but Sevilla rejected the offer and pointed towards his €80million release clause. Koulibaly’s price has been reported to be around €70million with add-ons included, so it’s highly unlikely City go that high for the young Frenchman when their number one choice is cheaper.

This has seemingly brought them to Portugal’s big defensive hope of the new generation in Ruben Dias.

According to Fabrizio Romano Manchester City have entered talks with Benfica over a potential move for Dias, with Nicolas Otamendi likely to go in the opposite direction to help lower the fee. But is Dias the answer?

For me, not just yet. Dias is a very good defender and has shown that he is better than the Portuguese league with his performances for the national team. He is comfortable on the ball, relatively quick, strong in a one-on-one situation and competitive in the air. But he doesn’t stand out in any of those fields as exceptional to me.

As an option alongside Laporte, Dias would fit in seamlessly and he’s definitely an upgrade on Stones, Ake and Otamendi but City’s issue is when Laporte isn’t there. Koulibaly is used to being that cornerstone of a defence so he’d have no issue taking on the mantle if he was signed, while Kounde did well as the leader of the Sevilla defence despite being only 21 years old. Dias is the leader of the Benfica defence right now but it says something that Porto pipped them to the title last season and his best performances have undoubtedly come for the national team alongside Pepe.

The reported fee of €55-60million plus Otamendi seems quite extortionate in the current market but Guardiola must be keen to either bolster the defence no matter what, or this is a ploy to put pressure on Napoli.

I don’t think it’s the latter and Dias’ reputation is high. He has talent and at only 23 years old he will only improve. Personally, I think he needs a step between where he is now and Man City, so he can bed himself into the league and improve more before the big price tag adds the extra pressure on him. A club like Leicester would be ideal for him, where they will compete against everyone in the division and play with the same principles as the best teams in the league.

Overall, that step looks unlikely to come now with a deal reportedly close and I’m excited to see Ruben Dias in the Premier League.

Alex Telles: All You Need To Know About The Manchester United ‘Target’

After missing out on Sergio Reguilon to Tottenham, Manchester United have reportedly set their eyes on a new left-back target in Alex Telles of Porto.

After agreeing terms with Reguilon but refusing to accept any form of buy-back clause in the deal to bring him from Real Madrid to Old Trafford, Tottenham swooped in and sealed the signing of the young Spaniard. This forced Manchester United to look elsewhere and according to three very reliable sources, Alex Telles is the man.

David Ornstein, Mohamed Bouhafsi and Fabrizio Romano all report that Manchester United are in talks to agree a fee with FC Porto over a deal for the left-back, with the player already agreeing terms on a five-year contract at Old Trafford.

But who is Alex Telles and what will he bring to Old Trafford (or more likely PSG the way this summer has gone)?

Firstly, he’s a huge threat going forward. Very comfortable on the ball, Telles has the ability to link well with the midfield but also to play his way out of trouble from the back if necessary. When in attacking scenarios, Telles loves to overlap his winger and has a wand of a left foot with excellent delivery. He’s also a good set-piece taker, as penalties and free-kicks helped him to 12 goals and 13 assists for Porto last season as they marched to the Liga NOS title.

Defensively, he is competent. He is prone to the odd brain fart, but nothing more than Luke Shaw currently provides. Positionally he can be a bit iffy and he can sometimes take a while to get back into position after an attack breaks down, but physically he is strong and not scared to put a foot in.

With Telles entering the final year of his contract and Porto having financial difficulties, it’s expected that a fee of just €20 million would be enough to convince the Portuguese champions to part ways with arguably their best player. That said, there are some reports that Manchester United are unwilling to pay that and will look to negotiate the fee down.

Personally, I feel not paying the price is going to cost Manchester United once again. At €20 million, Telles represents great value and a player who improves the team immediately. With PSG in the market for a left-back following Juan Bernat’s cruciate ligament injury, if United don’t act quickly you can be sure that PSG will step in and pay the asking price without question to get the deal done quickly. It’s very possible (and my belief) that this news has been leaked by Porto in order to trigger a bidding war between clubs and they’re just using Manchester United’s name in the press. If genuine though, United at least seem to have the right idea about which positions need strengthening and the profile they’re looking at is encouraging.

That alone isn’t enough though. Manchester United need to pull the trigger and actually conclude these signings. It’s pointless agreeing terms with a player when you won’t pay the fee to get the deal over the line.

Benfica’s Champions League Curse Continues

In the uncertain times of today, dominated by the Coronavirus pandemic, few are the football clubs willing to spend as freely as other transfer windows have allowed.

Curiously, irrespective of the risks and needs to safeguard against turns in the financial tide, one team appears to be spending like never before.

Hiring a top-20-earning manager, being linked with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen and ex-Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani before spending a whopping €80 million in transfer fees on top of that, it’ll come as a surprise to many that Benfica, from cash-strapped Portugal, are the ones flaunting such fierce financial firepower.

Free-spending isn’t entirely foreign for the Estádio da Luz outfit, who’ve completed four of their five most expensive deals ever just in the last 12 months, but the manner is as aggressive as ever after a lacklustre 2019/20 season.

SL Benfica v Rennes FC - Pre Season Friendly : News Photo

Fresh in the memory is Bruno Lage’s demise in charge of the Eagles, last season, winning just five of his last 15 games at the club before resigning to the tune of bitter rivals FC Porto charging to the league title.

Lage didn’t pick up all of the blame, however, having previously sealed the title in 2018/19 after two-time champion Rui Vitória, now at Al-Nassr, succumbed to the same fate mid-season.

The board’s harshest critics were quick to point towards the club’s inability to cast in the correct personnel, struggling firstly to cater for the aging Jonas and, later, replacing João Félix effectively.

A season prior to Vitória’s sacking, Benfica also missed the chance to win five league titles in a row, a record held by Porto, who were, against the odds, able to wrap up the 2017/18 league title for themselves on a shoestring budget.

Head-to-head in the last three season, the Dragons are 2-1 up in titles, which weighs heavy on Luís Filipe Vieira’s reputation as club president, with elections looming over the club next month.

The club’s European success, or lack thereof, has been an even bigger source of disappointment, falling at the group stages in each of their last three Champions League campaigns which included 2017/18’s rock-bottom finish, accumulating no points at all in Manchester United’s group.

In addition to having his name muddied by numerous allegations into corruption, after 17 years in charge of the club, Vieira is, without a doubt, going through his least boastful spell in the red half of Lisbon. This brings us to his new, more aggressive approach ahead of the new season, as well as October’s pending election, in which Vieira really has gone for the jugular.

The first port of call has been Jorge Jesus – a name very familiar to the club for the best and worst reasons. A three-time league champion in six years, the Eagles played some of their best football under the 66-year-old, but his tenure at the club ended on a real sour note, trading the red of Benfica for the green of cross-city rivals Sporting in the summer of 2015.

Then came the signings of Everton Cebolinha from Grêmio, adding to the capture of Corinthians’ Pedrinho, Vertonghen’s free transfer, a successful move for Germany Under-21 international Gian-Luca Waldschmidt and record-transfer Darwin Nuñez, arriving from Spanish second tier side Almeria.

Image

With a bill north of €80 million and moves for Flamengo pair Gerson and Bruno Henrique, as well as Olympiakos centre-half Rubén Semedo still tabbed up, the message coming from Benfica was clear. This wasn’t a club simply after domestic success, but one seeking redemption on a European stage, befitting of the money invested in both players and manager.

But as the Red & Whites stretched their finances to the limit, they seemed to have overlooked one very pertinent fact about Champions League football – they were yet to qualify.

In Tuesday’s one-legged play-off, PAOK Salonika handed Benfica the most brutal reminder of that, knocking them out in a 2-1 victory sealed by their ex-player, Andrija Zivkovic, who was allowed to head for Greece on a free transfer just this month.

With it, the Serbian winger, a handsome earner during his time in Lisbon, wiped €40 million from Benfica’s coffers, upon eventual qualification for the centrepiece of European club football – a staggering 35% of the club’s annual revenue. By contrast, should the Eagles qualify for the Europa League and win the tournament, they’d only earn up to €26 million.

The elimination arrives with immediate consequences as the club battles to avoid the trail left by Sporting and Porto and landing themselves in hot water with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

Benfica may well need to sell a player or two for sizeable fees which, with super-agent Jorge Mendes in the contacts book, may not seem like such an impossible task, but it doesn’t bode well for a squad Jesus, reportedly, still believes to be incomplete, nor will it sit well with the fans hopeful of seeing some of the club’s brightest prospects out on the pitch, rather than on the transfer market.

The Eagles have been here before with Jesus, as well as Mendes, letting go of the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and João Cancelo, all curiously for €15 million to AS Monaco and Valencia, both well-connected to the portuguese agent. Today, Florentino Luis and Ferro may well be the next to walk the plank.

Financial troubles will do Vieira no wonders too going into an election. Not only is the prospect of no European football a blow to fans, eager to see their star-studded team in action at the very top, but the recklessness of it, laid bare by Tuesday’s elimination, is sure to erase some form of trust in the top man from sections of the support.

That may not be enough to dethrone the current incumbent just yet, still a favourite going into the elections, but the worries over an ambitious project, that seems to be over before its even begun, shall persist.

Danilo Pereira Puts Premier League Sides On Alert

FC Porto captain has put Premier League sides on red alert after he admitted he wants to move to England.

The Portugal international featured for Porto as they claimed a second Liga NOS title in three years, with the defensive midfielder playing 25 times. Now at 28 years old, Danilo has admitted that he’s looking at new challenges and England is top of his priority list.

Speaking to Yahoo Sports, he said:

Of course I like to be here in Porto, to be here in my country, but I want to be in a better league like the Premier League. I always dreamed about playing in that league. I also played in Serie A but I think the Premier League is a huge league and one day I want to play there, to improve to be a better player. I think it’s the best league in the world.

Danilo was part of Portugal’s squad that won Euro 2016 and the UEFA Nations League in 2019. He is often rotated with William Carvalho in the national team, who has also been linked with a Premier League move this summer.

At 28 years old, he is in the prime of his career and the peak of his powers. He has been linked with a move to Arsenal recently and in the interview didn’t hold back on his thoughts about those rumours.

Arteta is a really good coach who started as the second coach, so he has a little experience and Arsenal play very good football and I think he is doing a very well there.

The style I think I can fit there [at Arsenal], the way [Arteta] plays also thinking on the ball, the team always has to play together – I think it is a good way to play.

With Arsenal currently adopting a 3-4-3 system with Xhaka and Ceballos in the centre of midfield, Danilo could struggle to get into the side. However Arteta has spoken previously about his preference for a 4-3-3, in which case Danilo could slot seamlessly into the DM position. With Lucas Torreira out of favour and reportedly looking to leave in the summer, Arsenal would be short in midfield and Porto wouldn’t demand a huge fee for their skipper.

He is very comfortable on the ball and while not the most mobile, he is positionally excellent and reads the game very well. He is big and strong with a physical side to his game and not afraid to stick a foot in. He’d be a welcome addition to the Emirates Stadium.

With an 8th place finish the highest the Gunners can achieve this season, they need to be smart in the transfer market this summer and could do a lot worse than look at a Champions League-calibre defensive midfielder.