I’m looking forward to contributing with my football ( mostly Portuguese ) column for my amigo, Senhor Cabo.
We kick things off with the Portuguese Superliga review. Portuguese football has provided seven finalists in UEFA competitions in the past decade. Its league is ranked 5th in Europe. In World Cups and European Championships Portugal’s National team has reached four semi-finals and one final in the last 13 years. One ( CR7 ) of the top two players in the world and the most successful coach currently in the game hail from the country. Yet still.. Portuguese football remains underrepresented in the reporting of the beautiful game. I’ll aim to partially redress the balance.
The Portuguese 2013/14 Superliga season has ended with Benfica being crowned champions for their 33rd national championship. This past week-end, Benfica completed a clean sweep of domestic trophies , beating Rio Ave 1-0 in the Portuguese Cup Final , while also adding the Portuguese league cup to their honours and becoming the first team to win all three domestic trophies in Portugal. There was however some heartache after losing their eighth successive European final , to Seville ( on penalties ) in the Europa League Final. All in all, an incredible season for Jorge Jesus team.
Sporting CP , led by Leonardo Jardim finished second and seven points behind their Lisbon rivals. Champions League football returns to the Estadio Alvalade for the first time since the 2009/10 season , however Jardim won’t be at the helm. After his 3 million euro release clause was met , Jardim has been appointed manager at Monaco, replacing Claudio Ranieri. Sporting moved quick with his replacement and Marco Silva has signed a four year contract with the Leões. Silva led modest Estoril to 5th and 4th place over past two seasons in the Superliga.
FC Porto have appointed Spaniard ,Julen Lopetegui as the club’s new coach on a three-year deal. Lopetegui , is a former goalkeeper who played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid , and has coached Spain’s U19 , U20 and U21 teams. Portistas will be hoping for a return to their previous years of domination , following a disappointing league campaign ( finishing 3rd ) and a massive 13 points behind Benfica, as well as a poor Champions League and Europa Cup campaign.
Nacional Madeira finished 5th and clinched a Europa league spot , while neighbours Maritimo finished a respectable 6th. Olhanense were relegated , while Moreirense and Penafiel were promoted to the Primeira Liga.
On Saturday ( 24 May ) , we have the small matter of a UEFA Champions League Final which will be hosted in Lisbon at the Estadio Da Luz for the very first time. Portugal will be well represented by Tiago Mendes ( Atletico Madrid ) and the Real Madrid trio of Cristiano Ronaldo , Pepe and Fábio Coentrâo. Here’s hoping for a 100% fit Ronaldo and a fantastic Final.
That’s all for now.. I’ll be chatting about Paulo Bento’s 23 man World Cup squad in the next column. We are only 20 days away from the World Cup :).. Football never sleeps.
Cheers till next time.