Tag Archives: Porto

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.


Remembering Greatness: Deco

In a generation where the best Brazilian born players were almost exclusively top level creative midfielders, Deco is probably the one who got away.

The former Porto, Barcelona and Chelsea man represented Portugal at international level eventually and he made a name for himself on the European stage at club level and also with the national team that he played for strictly through FIFA’s citizenship rules.

A gifted playmaker, Deco had it all and won it all during his time in three of Europe’s best leagues. League titles in three different top European countries, two UEFA Champions League titles as well as several domestic cups.

Deco’s early career was plagued with injuries. After moving from Brazil over to Portugal as a youngster, he was in the Benfica academy and hailed as the eventual successor to the legendary Manuel Rui Costa.

His dribbling and passing range were similar, but he never quite had the mobility or pace of the the winger, and thus was instead used centrally in a midfield role rather than as a forward. After struggling to overcome fitness problems and being released by the Lisbon club, he spent one year at lowly Salguieros before signing for FC Porto.

This transfer was eventually labelled as a “historical mistake” by fans due to the success he had with the Dragões. The player himself blames Graeme Souness for his departure, telling former striker Nuno Gomes in an interview, “Benfica decided, it wasn’t my decision. They didn’t want me. The coach was Graeme Souness at the time. I was young and Benfica needed some players.

Once arriving at FC Porto in 1999, Deco was installed as a regular starter in his second season but it was in his final three seasons where he became a legend at the club.

In 2001/02 he scored a career high 19 goals from midfield as Porto came third, seven points behind champions Sporting CP. The following two years were the most successful of his time in Portugal though and where he gained the name and reputation that would follow him for the rest of his career.

He would win the next two Primeira Liga titles but in 2003/04 was when he really became a star. At 26-years-old, he would score four and register 29 assists in 45 games as Porto won the title but also shocked the world by winning the Champions League.

Ten of those 29 assists came in the 12 Champions League games that season, and he also scored in the final as they defeated Monaco. He would follow manager Jose Mourinho out of the club that summer, but while Mourinho went to Chelsea as ‘the special one’ Deco joined the Catalan side to go up to the next level in a £15m + Ricardo Quaresma deal.

Once again the deal was met with scepticism, with Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho the main man at the club and Barcelona not really tending to play with a natural number ten.

Manager Frank Rijkaard opted to use Deco as the most offensive player in a three-man midfield and it was the Portuguese man’s work rate and willingness to press that shocked worried fans the most. His performances were exceptional as he formed a wonderful partnership with Ronaldinho and striker Samuel Eto’o that powered his side to two La Liga titles and a Champions League during his four years with the side.

He accrued 20 goals and 45 assists in 161 games for the club – numbers that don’t exactly jump out at you. But that’s exactly why he’s in this series; to be remembered for his greatness.

Let us remember that in 2004, the year he won the Champions League final with Porto and made the final of Euro 2004 with Portugal that he finished as the runner-up to Andriy Shevchenko in the Ballon d’Or and ahead of new teammate Ronaldinho in the voting.

Once Pep Guardiola arrived at the Camp Nou and placed a greater emphasis on youth with the promotion of Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets to the first-team, Deco eventually did move to Stamford Bridge.

He joined up with former Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and made an immediate impact, winning the Premier League player of the month at the first attempt. When Scolari was sacked later that season, he lost his place and asked to leave but once Carlo Ancelotti joined – he was able to become a regular once more.

Under Ancelotti he was used as a number ten once again in a diamond formation and also in a three-man midfield once again in a squad full of options. He played a big part in winning the double that season, with 28 appearances in all competitions before returning to Brazil to finish his career with Fluminese.

In an era now where an attacking player’s impact is seemingly only recognised because of their numbers when it comes to goal involvements, Deco is not that man. 74 goals and 150 assists in 482 career club appearances don’t exactly shine through.

Despite that, he is fondly remembered at two European giants for his role in their success during his time at the club and is arguably the best Brazilian-born playmaker to never wear the famous yellow and green.

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.