Tag Archives: Ricardo Carvalho

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.

My Perfect Footballer #4 – Portugal edition

With a population as little as ten million, it is fair to say Portugal has done pretty well for themselves as a footballing powerhouse. Never ones to be taken lightly in international competition, their respect is a direct result of the constant stream of talent that, to this day, shows no sign of drying up.

From the stardust sprinkled by Eusebio and Paulo Futre, right through to the golden years of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and the unprecedented Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s not short of generational talent.

Which begs the question, if we were to call on the representation of one player to a single attribute, what would the perfect Portuguese player look like?


Brain
Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United’s man of the moment took a unique route to the top, taking in the Italian way of playing the game before his 2016 move back game with Sporting.

A true sponge, tactically, his rich knowledge of the game shows in the way he commands his team on the pitch, with or without the captain’s armband and, despite his many technical qualities, it’s his mentality that promises to take him and his teammates right to the very top. A true footballing brain on his shoulders.

Heading Ability
Cristiano Ronaldo

There’s no doubting the magnitude of the phenom we have in our hands here, fit to top almost every category available in this piece. Since few will be able dispute the overwhelming superiority Cristiano Ronaldo holds over others in the air, this category is his to don.

A lethal finisher with his head, even at a very young age, his favourable height, cunning anticipation and outrageous leap make him a force to be reckoned with inside the box. Truly superhuman.

Physique
André Silva

Undoubtedly in lofty company, here, the ex-FC Porto and A.C. Milan striker falls short of the talent and consistency possessed by many throughout this list, which is a shame given the threat he poses.

Somewhat likened to Ronaldo, physically, André Silva’s tall, strong and elegant frame equips him to be in the mould of a true modern-day athlete – the complete striker. All that’s really missing for the young frontman is a little more consistency before he starts looking like the fearsome prospect that once took him to the San Siro.

Hands
Rui Patrício

Two names spring to mind where goalkeeping’s concerned – that of UEFA Champions League winner Vitor Baía, a mainstay in the Portugal national team in his day, and Rui Patricio, central to his nation’s Euro 2016 success in France, against the hosts.

With a blunder or two in his game, Baía loses out here to Rui Patricio, who’s matured brilliantly over the years and offers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Portugal with the adequate security required to compete.

Tackling
Ricardo Carvalho

Barely in the six foot region, there’s plenty to admire about Ricardo Carvalho’s game in a world dominated by bulkier, far more imposing centre-backs and strikers alike.

Excelling at the very highest level with FC Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid, Carvalho’s positioning, anticipation and composure often saw him outsmart his competitors in the tackle, adding greater comfort to the backline wherever he went.

Agility
João Moutinho

Great things were expected of João Moutinho when he first broke through at Sporting in 2004 and, meanwhile, it’s fair to say he hasn’t quite lived up to the promise set out, the midfielder’s career isn’t one to frown at either.

Still competing in the Premier League at the age of 34, his small stature aids his agility that, throughout the years, has seen the creative quantity mature into a combative source, relentlessly zipping across the midfields.

Passing
Manuel Rui Costa

Another in a class of his own, capable of taking a handful of categories for himself, Rui Costa, formerly referred to as ‘the Maestro,’ comes in to claim what his nickname implies – orchestrating play.

The ex-Fiorentina and A.C. Milan star had the innate ability to play at his own pace, capable of short bursts through the midfield with the ball glued at his feet, and when he was not practically passing the ball into the net, such was his accuracy, Rui Costa was feeding his star-studded forward lines with the utmost precision expected of a number ten.

First Touch
Deco

One many would consider a rare breed, Deco wasn’t quick, nor strong, but he’d always outwit his opposition with otherworldly vision and guile, best seen in his FC Porto years.

An immaculate first touch set up the Brazilian-born Portugal international for success, enabling him to find the time and space his slight body and creative attributes required. Deco was so good, in fact, there were times he didn’t even need to touch the ball, feigning cutely and giving his opponents the illusion he could control things with his mind.

Speed
Nani

Although he may not be as quick as a certain Portuguese Old Trafford favourite, Nani, with admirers of his own during his time in the north-west, wasn’t far behind when it came to turning on the jets.

Direct, tricky and equally objective, the former Manchester United number 17 was a real threat off the flanks in his pomp, owing much of that to his unforgiving acceleration.

Dribbling
Paulo Futre

Dubbed as Europe’s response to Diego Maradona, the long-haired Atlético Madrid legend was unstoppable in full flow, toying with any defender who dared to believe he may be dispossessed.

Blessed with control, veiled pace and a protective tenacity that kept his detractors at bay, the Maradona comparisons were always very evident for a winger who simply refused to be tackled.

Skills
Ricardo Quaresma

Nobody embodies street football, where imagination, joy and exhilaration is king, quite like Ricardo Quaresma. Despite never delivering the career his abundant talent deserved, the former Porto and Besiktas star never lost sight of what made him a firm favourite in everyone’s hearts – his commitment to leave all in awe with wizardry.

The constant showboating, the trademarked ‘Trivela’ – Quaresma is your one and only stop for mind-boggling trickery on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Crossing
Luís Figo

Luís Figo was many things, from an elite dribbler, to a complete visionary in the final third. One of his more underrated qualities was his ability to cause danger from the flanks, via his delivery. Not his most outstanding quality, undoubtedly, but brilliantly consistent.

Right Foot
Eusebio

The perfect Portuguese player would be complete without the great Eusebio, conveying an enormity that is, even in the presence of Ronaldo and co., fondly remembered today.

We’ll leave the striker in his natural habitat, here, borrowing his venomous and ferocious right foot that often left goalkeepers powerless.

Left Foot
Bernardo Silva

The story’s still being written for 25-year-old Bernardo Silva and his thus far glittering career, honing his skills in both France and, most recently, England.

As so often is the case, Bernardo slaloms past his opponents as if a string’s attaching his left foot to the ball, lacing his close control with end product, be it in search of a team mate in the final third, or picking out the top corner. As far as left foots go, his is certainly one of the very best going.


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Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea vs Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid

One of the greatest managers in the history of the sport, Jose Mourinho has managed some of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

He also managed two of the best teams we’ve seen, during two separate eras and for two different reasons.

When Mourinho joined Chelsea as ‘The Special One’, he built one of the greatest defensive teams ever seen. During the 2004/05 season, the Blues conceded just 15 goals in the entire Premier League campaign as they strolled to a first title in 50 years before making it consecutive titles the following season too.

After leaving Chelsea and winning a treble with Inter Milan, Mourinho ended up at the Bernabeu as the manager of Real Madrid. There he would lock horns against Pep Guardiola and arguably the greatest club side ever in Barcelona and eventually break their stranglehold on the La Liga title.

His Madrid side were a goalscoring demon, scoring a record 121 goals during the league campaign as they recorded 100 points to win the title for the first time since 2008.

But who would win if the two sides met each other? Lets break it down.


Mourinho always loved building his teams from the back and that usually starts with the goalkeeper.

At Chelsea, he made the decision early on to replace long-time number one Carlo Cudicini with young Petr Cech. The signing from Rennes was completed before Jose arrived, but it was the Portuguese manager’s choice to put him in and keep him as the first choice. He won the Golden Glove award for keeping a record 21 clean sheets in his first season and conceded just 37 goals in two seasons combined, including a record low of 15 in the first.

For Real Madrid, the decision was much simpler. Club legend Iker Casillas was the number one pick at the club since he was a teenager and was still near the top of his game when Mourinho came in and he kept that position until Jose’s final season.

Chelsea's English defender John Terry (R : News Photo

In defence, Mourinho’s Chelsea back four is legendary among Premier League circles. Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho followed him from Porto and went straight into the side, while John Terry was already captain. William Gallas was a centre-back by nature, but filled in at left-back for Mourinho in place of Wayne Bridge as Mourinho opted for more physicality.

At Madrid, the defence selected itself. Alvaro Arbeloa had joined from Liverpool before Mourinho was hired, but he was the first choice right-back when they won the league because of a long-term injury to Mourinho’s trusted enforcer Carvalho who was also now at Madrid. This meant Sergio Ramos moved to centre-back alongside Pepe while Marcelo was still the first choice left-back ahead of Fabio Coentrao.

In midfield, Mourinho has almost always opted for physicality over intricacy and those patterns continue in these two sides.

At Chelsea, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele were guaranteed starters in the first campaign while Michael Essien joined in the second season from Lyon. He replaced another Portuguese player in the side, as Tiago dropped out to accommodate the Ghanaian’s inclusion. He offered mobility, power, great passing and tenacity as well as an added goal threat for Mourinho, who looked to get even more from Frank Lampard.

Madrid’s midfield was more creative than Chelsea’s but still physical enough to withstand the battles it needed to get into. Xabi Alonso was the dictator from deep who was also able to break up play and defend, while Sami Khedira was the box-to-box option who marauded around the pitch chasing the ball to win it back but also to add extra threat in the opposition box on occasion.

The big difference was between Ozil and Lampard, with the German in the team to create while the England man was in the side to finish moves off. He finished as Chelsea’s top goalscorer in both of Mourinho’s first two seasons in England, scoring 19 and 20 goals respectively, while Ozil created 28 goals on his own in all competitions in 2011/12.

In attack, Chelsea were consistently clinical. Didier Drogba established himself as Mourinho’s first-choice centre forward, with the Ivory Coast international a physical presence with excellent link up play. He scored 30 goals in the two seasons combined under Jose, but it was ability to link with the wide men that made him invaluable.

In the first campaign Arjen Robben and Damien Duff played on opposite wings and terrorised defences, although the Dutchman was ravaged by injury problems during his time in London. In the second campaign, Robben continued at a similar rate but Joe Cole stepped up and essentially took over from Duff as his partner on the other side. Together they had pace, skill, a fantastic passing range and an eye for goal that carried Mourinho’s side to back-to-back championships.

In Madrid, the attack was much stronger in depth. Players like former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain were restricted to roles as a substitute mainly because of the form of Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo.

Di Maria scored seven goals and assisted 17, while Benzema scored 32 and assisted 19 during the campaign. Those numbers paled in comparison to Ronaldo though, who scored an incredible 60 goals to go with 15 assists in all competitions as Mourinho was able to topple Guardiola and Messi at the top of La Liga.

It would be a true contest of attack against defence if the two sides met and it is harder and harder to look past Real Madrid as the winners of any potential contest.

The quality of the attack is arguably the best we’ve seen in recent years barring Barcelona’s incredible ‘MSN’ trio and as good as Chelsea’s defence was, they never really came under significant threat in the Premier League. They never quite dominated in Europe, reaching a semi-final and then the last 16 so Madrid would obviously fancy their chances.

Defensively Madrid weren’t awful themselves, conceding only 32 goals in their league campaign and they also reached the Champions League semi-finals.

It would be a fantastic game, where we’d see the best of Mourinho’s two philosophies of football. ‘Park the bus’ vs ‘give it to Ronaldo’. Ronaldo wins for me.