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Thursday, 10 January 2013 09:14

Benfica, Braga, Porto and Rio Ave progress in Portuguese League Cup

Taça da Liga semi-finals defined

kardec-20130110.jpgThe second group stage of the Portuguese League Cup concluded yesterday. A second-string Benfica had to work hard to beat Académica 3-2 and book their place in the semi-finals. The Eagles will meet Braga who made light work of overcoming Beira-Mar at the AXA. The other semi-final will be between FC Porto and Rio Ave, who made it to the last four thanks to single-goal victories over Vitória Setúbal and Marítimo respectively.
Group A
A João Moutinho penalty on the stroke of half time was enough for the Dragons to ease past Vitória Setúbal. The other game in the group was also decided by a penalty. Claudemir’s 54th-minute spot kick was enough to earn Nacional victory over Estoril.

FC Porto 3 2 1 0 5 2 7
V. Setúbal 3 1 1 1 3 2 4
Nacional 3 1 0 2 2 5 3
Estoril 3 0 2 1 2 3 2
Group B
Braga continued their fine run of results (five wins and a draw in their last six games) with a predictably straightforward home triumph over Beira-Mar. Goals from Carlão, Rúben Amorim and Hugo Viana sent the Arsenalistas into the semi-finals. Braga’s Minho neighbours Vitória Guimarães overcame Naval at home but had to settle for the runners-up spot in the section. A goal in each half from the in-form Ricardo and Rafael Crivellaro gave the hosts the three points.

Braga 3 2 1 0 5 1 7
V. Guimarães 3 1 2 0 4 2 5
Beira-Mar 3 0 2 1 2 5 2
Naval 3 0 1 2 1 4 1
Group C
Manchester United loanee Bebé was the hero for Rio Ave in their trip to Madeira to take on Marítimo. The Portugal U21 striker scored with a fine strike from the edge of the box 15 minutes from time to propel the Vila do Conde team into the semi-finals. Rio Ave make the last four at the expense of Paços de Ferreira. Paulo Fonseca’s side were two minutes from getting the draw they needed at the Alvalade, but a late Ricky van Wolfswinkel goal gave Jesualdo Ferreira victory in his first match in charge of Sporting.

Rio Ave 3 2 0 1 6 3 6
P. Ferreira 3 2 0 1 5 3 6
Sporting 3 1 1 1 3 5 4
Marítimo 3 0 1 2 2 5 1

Group D
With just five days before the Clássico at the Estádio da Luz between Benfica and FC Porto, Eagles boss Jorge Jesus made 10 changes from the starting line-up in relation to Sunday's win at Estoril, as they faced Académica in Lisbon. Lima put Benfica ahead on 40 minutes, but goals from Makelele and Carlos Saleiro either side of half time gave Académica the lead. Up stepped forgotten man at the Luz, Alan Kardec. The big Brazilian headed in the equaliser then set up Lima for the winner. In the other match in Group D Olhanense and Moreirense played out a 0-0 draw.
Benfica 3 2 1 0 6 4 7
Moreirense 3 0 3 0 3 3 3
Académica 3 0 2 1 4 5 2
Olhanense 3 0 2 1 1 2 2

Semi-final line-up:

Braga v Benfica
FC Porto v Rio Ave

Matches to be played on 27 February 2013
Comments (15)
Ballon d'Or
15 Saturday, 12 January 2013 21:23
Anyone who disagrees that Messi didn't deserve to win it is blind. Messi is the greatest goalscorer the man consistently finds the net and helps his team win games and by majority of the time by large numbers. The only year I disagreed of him winning the Ballon d'Or was when Sneijder was snubbed a nomination. There is a reason why he continues to win this award, he has no competition in my opinion.
Some thoughts
14 Saturday, 12 January 2013 15:44
A news show here in the US, 60 minutes, had a nice piece about Barca. It started in praising the academy and how they have become great due to growing their own. It then goes on about the greatness of Messi.
Let me just say that it was all great. Nothing wrong of the piece at all. I actually loved to see how Barca provides not only great futebol training but education as well. Yes, it's a futebol factory but many get an opportunity to grow beyond that.
As for Messi, I thought he deserved the award this for last year. What he accomplished, was incredible. By the way, Barca has also done well even though no silverware came. Messi finally performing for Argentina also helped his cause.

That being said, the narrative always seems to support whatever Messi does. When CR7 scores more, Messi is king due to silverware and team accomplishment. When Messi scores, his talent rises above all.
In my opinion, CR7 should have won the previous Ballon D'or. I also think that Real lost a great opportunity to win the CL last season, which would have locked the trophy for CR7.

In getting back to Barca, you guys have already mentioned all the transfer money paid. The only guy I didn't see listed was Cesc, and Sanchez.
Without names, here's some starting numbers.
Transfer costs + or - (in British pounds):
'12/'13 (not counting January): - 28,600,000
'11/'12: -11,484,000
'10/'11: -17,424,000
'09/'10: -77,880,000
'08/'09: -35,692,800
'07/'08: -47,690,000
Startling numbers, especially when you add that Barca has the highest payroll in the world. The "little team" that could monicker doesn't really apply to Barca, yet that's the perception.

As for FIFA's team, when are we going to realize its a business and a joke. Take a look at the IFHHS rankings, and how they still had Sporting as the top team in Portugal for 2012. Not sure how they manage their rankings, but going back 5 years isn't enough for that conclusion.

Sorry the article hijacking.
Re: Chris
13 Saturday, 12 January 2013 13:25
I do think La Liga Espanola is definitely the strongest league in Europe at the moment. By "strongest" I mean quality on the pitch across numerous teams, not neccesarily competitiveness. You are right that it's primarily a two-team league in the sense that only Barca and Real are the serious title challengers...but many other clubs are super strong when it comes to European play.

Examples: last season Athletic Bilbao totally thumped Man United in the EL...beat them home and away, and in the end the aggregate score was kind to United, it should've been more convincing. Look at Bilbao this season, and they're hovering above the relegation zone. Now do you think a team like, say Aston Villa, could convincingly beat Real Madrid home and away?

Atletico Madrid don't really challenge for the Liga title, yet have won two of the last 3 EL titles...and absolutely blew away Chelsea in the Super Cup in august. Malaga, in their first season in the CL, won their group, including winning at the San Siro etc etc. To me in terms of real quality (not in terms of talk, global coverage and PR)...La Liga is way ahead of the Premiership.

When you're talking "competitiveness"...the Bundesliga to me is way ahead of the rest. Sure Bayern are the top dogs, but it really is a league where any team can beat any other in any given match, and there isn't a huge gulf in quality between most of the teams...and it is not a rare sight to see Bayern or Dortmund get convincingly beaten by a team in the bottom 3.
Yes Andre
12 Friday, 11 January 2013 17:17
Thanks, I totally forgot about Villa. I don't dislike Barca, but I don't like them either. I really cannot stand the myopic view of casual soccer fans and of the sanctioning bodies (FIFA & UEFA) in recognizing the quality of only 1-2 teams at a time.

Is Spain the best league?? I don't know. I would say not. In terms of entertainment, thrills, suspense and the prospect of big teams losing points and competition, I think that England and Germany provide much more. Outside of RM and Barca, we see Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico that are contending teams, but when we look at other teams.... and well m'eh. There is a big drop off in talent. Arguably, teams on top in Spain lose points more because of poor form rather than being properly challenged.

With respect to Barca individually, it is a brilliantly run club, the accomplishments are world class, but I tire of their false "sweetheart" within the media. We saw this week what a classless zealot Pep Guardiola can be, when Ronaldo wanted to shake his hand. We see many instances of dirty play from Messi, Busquets, Pique and others, yet Mourinho's boys are the bullies.

I think the Ronaldo vs Messi debate was fun for a while but it's become so tiring and gotten so out of hand now that it really waters down the legitimacy of the sport.

All that being said, this is why I love this site so much. It's such a great blend of true soccer fans. Guys like Mdot, Orlando, Andre, Val, Voice of Reason, NJ, Jon, and others plus Tom, Ben and co, really make it an awesome place to communicate. Real soccer fans. People who know how to pronounce words like "Olhanense", and "Guimaraes" instead of just "United", "Ferguson", or "Abramavich". Most importantly, people who yell "GOL!!!!!" at their tv, instead of "Goal!" or "Scores!".

Cheers to everyone at Portugoal.
Stats done lie
11 Friday, 11 January 2013 16:44
Yes it is frustrating to read nonsense like that. Here are some facts;

Falcao at Porto

- League Winners 2010/11
- Europe League Winners 2010/11
- Falcao broke Klinsman’s record of 15 goals in Europa with 17
- Won the Portuguese Super Cup, 2010 and 2011
- Won the Taca de Portugal 2010, 2011
- 34 goals 43 app in 2010
- 38 goals in 42 app in 2011

Falcao at Atletico

- Qualified for champions league
- 36 goals in 50 app

Makes sense he gets 1st team with Atletico right??? I won’t even go into Ibrahimovich’s stats or titles, it would take up this entire page!!

Shame on FIFA/UEFA, shame on the human goiter Sepp Blatter and the bigot Platini.

Unfortunately Barca are the modern "LA Raiders" team to like, for no reason other than they win.

Chris time to lay the smack down on your nephew!!! :)
10 Friday, 11 January 2013 15:23
Well La Liga Espanola is by some way the strongest league in Europe, but that still doesn't merit the whole team being comprised of only of La Liga players...Sergio Ramos? Give me a break he's totally over-rated, Garay for example is far better than Ramos in my opinion (but yeah of course Garay plays in Portugal!).

Also Chris you're spot on about this notion that Barca are not big spenders, of course they are...everyone who thinks it's entirely about the youth system with them is totally mistaken...you forgot David Villa on your list, who was at least another 30 million!

I've even heard people say things like "this youth system at Barca which has always been the tradition of the club"...always been? No chance, anyone who says that has a short memory, or isn't old enough to remember the 90s. In the 90s it was Barca who were the Galacticos...not Real! They had Stoichkov, Laudrup, Koeman, Romario, Hagi...then Figo, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Kluivert and virtually all the other Ajax stars of the time, etc etc.. I really believe their current youth policy is great, and others clubs should follow suit, but it certainly hasn't always been this way...
@ Val.... You are psychic!
9 Friday, 11 January 2013 14:30
That FIFA shambles is absolutely DISGUSTING!!

Not only all La Liga players, but every player aside from Falcao are either from Real Madrid or Barcelona. I actually think this is a good thing because it exposes how corrupt and what a joke FIFA and UEFA really are.

As you said, Falcao was the man at Porto, but suddenly he is recognized now in Spain. Also, Pique largely sucked, Alves and Marcelo were average and Alonso was also far from the best in his position. And CASILLAS???? REALLY???

I really don't see how they passed up guys like Neuer, Kompany, even some Superliga players like Hulk, Moutinho or Cardozo. But it doesn't matter what these players do because they don't play in Spain. Disgusting.

The day Sepp "pinched" Bladder and Michelle Pfeifer Platini step down from their respective posts will be the day that soccer gets better. Messi getting the Ballon d'Or again is ridiculous. Ronaldo has played for 3 different teams and always been successful, yet never gets credit. Messi is world class no doubt, but it's all been at one club that has had an outstanding cast of players.

Oh, and I read an article the other day about how Barcelona "does it right" by bringing guys up from the youth ranks. What a bunch of garbage. Yes, Messi came up that way, but let's look at the other stars they've had in the last 10 years:

Ronaldinho- PSG $30 million

Dani Alves- Sevilla $28 million

Pique- Manchester Utd $6 million (came from youth academy but sold to United very early on. Barca had to buy him back)

Mark van Bommel- PSV Eindhoven Free transfer.

Deco- FC Porto $15 million + Quaresma

Eto'o- Mallorca $24 million

Abidal- Lyon $15 million

Ibrahimovic- Inter Milan $69 million

Maxwell- Inter $5 million

Keita- Sevilla $14 million

There are more, but I'll stop here. Of course, the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and Puyol are legends, and all came from the youth academy, but to deny the fact that Barca is a big money spender is undeniable. And now we hear that they are negotiating a ludicrous fee for Neymar.... Let's be honest people.

Some of the casual "all I know about soccer is Spain and Barcelona" soccer fans have blinders and know nothing about the sport. Clearly, these people are who Sepp "pinched" Bladder and company want to appeal to. Sad.
LOL you guys crack me up!
8 Friday, 11 January 2013 13:27
@ Chris, lol!!!

@ Jon, yes Pirlo-esque BUT fifa thinks Alonso is better than Pirlo at his position (not even on Pirlo's worst day is Alonso in his class) in fact FIFA 1'st team was made up of only Spanish league players, funny isnt it???

Apparently Falcao sucked while in Portugal but now that he is in SPAIN, well he is 1st choice ahead of Zlatan and RVP....

Fifa also placed Sergio "red card" Ramos ahead of Chiellini and Vidic.....anyhow that is a rant for another day, my friends, go check out the joke FIFA 1st team (all from la liga).
7 Friday, 11 January 2013 09:21
Haha hilarious man! Yeah you're absolutely right, it seems any guy on the street has just about as much chance of being called up by Bento, as some certain players are. How long has Manuel Fernandes been ignored now, despite us seeming to lack dynamism in the middle of the park...Eliseu has been in magnificent form this season, but doesn't get a look in...and he can play either left back or on the wing, and scores goals too!

I agree Bento has some real positives, and nobody can deny how well he motivated the team at the Euros...also I think his decisions about Bosingwa and Carvalho proved in time to be spot on. However we all agree his stubborness is his stumbling block, he almost makes JJ look submissive lol!

A tendency to select the same group always, and to stick with 4-3-3 against any opposition at all. I agree with Orlando Mac, against teams that we are going to dominate anyway, or who will park the bus, we have to play 4-4-2, or at least a 4-2-3-1 with a proper attacking midfielder suppourting the forward. Anyway I agree, players like Andre Gomes, Neto, Eder and Eliseu should all be given serious playing time against Ecuador, as we really need more options to become available to get a little more variety in the squad.
Good points, Chris
6 Thursday, 10 January 2013 23:12
Paulo Bento deserves praise for his exploits at the Euro's, but since then, he has become painfully stubborn with his tactics. His relentless obsession with the predictable 4-3-3 is clearly holding us back. He has also continued to make some questionable descisions regarding player selection. He continues to call up the likes of Beto, Hugo Almeida, Ruben Micael, Ruben Amorim, and Ricardo Costa.

For our upcoming friendly, I would like to see these players receive a call-up: Danny, Mario Felgueiras, Luis Neto, Manuel Fernandes, Andre Gomes, Pizzi, and Eliseu.

Most importantly, I'd love to see him start Danny alongside Eder in a 4-4-2/4-2-3-1. Imagine a front four consisting of Eder, Ronaldo, Danny, and Nani/Varela!!!
@ MDot
5 Thursday, 10 January 2013 19:42
Thanks bud.

I agree, and I will elaborate on another point. I think Bento has settled into a role of being too comfortable with the team. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate his positive traits. He's a good leader and motivator, and when it really counts, he is able to draw the best out of most of his players (Ronaldo being one glaring exception).

But, tactically, he seems to have lost a step. I thought the tactics against Spain in the Euro semi's were great, and worked perfectly. But in qualification and friendlies, and frankly against different teams, he needs to switch things up.

I remember when he first took over, seeing this incredible tiki taka one touch passing dominance that the Seleccao had. It was unbelievable. They kept good possession but were also magnificent and moving the ball around and keeping the opposition on their heals.

That same team/style seems to be gone. We now see a Seleccao that drives all the players forward, and most of the attacks start with a long-ball from Bruno Alves in defence. Moutinho plays more of a ball-retriever than distributor, and Veloso often keeps possession for far too long.

I think that switching up formations and pushing that same quick passing game again is what we need to see. I also agree that Andre Gomes, Neto, Manuel Fernandes and Pizzi/Varela should not only all be called up, but given starting positions in the next friendly.

Part of the formula is having a strong core, but the reality of the game is that players are streaky. They are hot one season, and ice cold the next (looking at you Nani & Coentrao). As coach, you should be selecting dynamic players that will bring their good form to the games.

That's all from me.

4 Thursday, 10 January 2013 15:47
That gave me a good laugh Chris. Since we’re down to just over a year before the world cup, I have to agree that there’s a good chance A.Gomes could be skipped. Just look at the striker situation at our national team. We had Nelson and several other young strikers and Bento barely gave them a second look for friendlies before the Euro. Nelson was lucky to see a few mins as a sub during the tournament but that’s not the time to be testing players out. Portugal is hosting a friendly in February against Ecuador. We’ll see if Bento gives a few young guns the chance to break out, we need some fresh blood on the national side. I think of A.Gomes next to Moutinho and Ronaldo may just get that top level support to help him carry the game forward.

As for the league cup, it was great to see Bebe score on his first game but to me I recommend checking out the highlights from the Guimarães game, there’s one goal which just had some amazing footwork to result in the goal. Playing Braga away won’t be an easy trip for Benfica but should make for a great match. I can only guess Porto may rest some players against Rio Ave but given the way they’ve been playing this season, I wouldn’t count them out.
HA! I repeat....HA!
3 Thursday, 10 January 2013 14:13
Andre, your post makes all the sense in the world, which is why it made me laugh.

Paulo Bento does not appreciate good sense! Thus he will clearly call up Ruben Amorim, Ruben Micael and Ruben Silverstein to the Seleccao rather than anyone named "Andre Gomes".

Who is Ruben Silverstein, you ask? Well, Ruben owns a deli in the lower east side of Manhatten, and is well-known for making delicious pastrami and sauerkraut sandwiches. He's being called up by Bento because the NT coach believes that we're missing that third "Ruben" to really galvanize our midfield.

When approached on the subject, Bento was quoted as saying, "With only 2 Ruben's we have been sluggish and uninspired. Now that we are adding Ruben Silverstein to the squad, we have speed, tranquility and delicious post-match sandwich snacks. I haven't been this happy since we called up Varela and he brought everyone Francesinha sandwiches from Porto!"

So, as you see, with Ruben3 (cubed), there is no room for bums like Manuel Fernandes, Andre Santos or Andre Gomes on the team. So sit back, have a brisket sandwich my friend and revel in the mediocrity of the Seleccao.

Andre Gomes
2 Thursday, 10 January 2013 13:27
I wanted to watch the Real Madrid-Celta Vigo match so I was only able to catch the first half of the Benfica game. I was also extremely impressed with Andre Gomes yet again. It seems like I'm praising the kid every time I comment on a post-match article, but he's one hell of a player.

I recall him making 2 or 3 world-class through-balls from very deep positions in midfield. There was one in particular in which he collected the ball in midfield and placed this perfectly waited 30 yard pass, splitting the entire Academica defense/midfield and setting up Nolito for a 1 on 1 with the keeper. And he did this with his weaker left foot!!! Pirlo-esque.

His calmness and composure on the ball does in fact remind me of Witsel, but I think his passing is actually much better than that of the Belgian. Witsel was excellent at linking up with teammates in the final third with short, one-touch passes. However he doesn't have the vision and passing range to really dictate the tempo of a match. He is an extremely classy box-to-box midfielder.

Gomes, in my opinion, is a much better passer of the ball. Witsel would often carry the ball for 10-15 yards before combining with a teammate. Gomes collects the ball and immediately scans the pitch for a decisive pass.

A player of Gomes' quality is going to make the Seleccao sooner than later. He can play every role in the 4-3-3 exceptionally, so I wouldn't be too surprised if Bento calls him up for the Ecuador friendly. He is definitely a much better player than Micael, Amorim, Martins, and even Meireles.
Exciting match
1 Thursday, 10 January 2013 10:03
Really entertaining match at Da Luz! Congrats to Academica for giving us a good fight again, just as they did earlier in the season. I think they're a good team, well organised and always seem to do much better against bigger opposition (won the Taca last season by beating Porto and then Sporting in the final, drew with Benfica early this season and beat Atletico Madrid in the EL). If they can find some more consistency in their game, they should potentially be a top 6 club.

JJ did the right thing in completely leaving out a bunch of our key players such as Garay, Matic, Perez, Cardozo and Rodrigo, with the Classico looming. Good for Roderick to get some action, he looked a little shakey, but that's understandable as it was his first game back with the team. Great for Kardec to get on the scoresheet too, which will boost his confidence. I actually hope we keep him this month, because i think particularly with JJ's preference for 4-4-2...we should have 4 central strikers in the squad (i.e 2 alternatives), to cover for injuries and suspensions.

I was super impressed again with Andre Gomes, a real all-rounder in the middle of the park, calm in possesion, great passing and distribution, and a good positional sense. In actual fact he reminds me a lot of Witsel, and as such the Belgian is not being missed as much as we all thought he would. If Gomes doesn't make Bento's Seleccao squad for the friendly next month, I will be well surprised, given the form he's been in. Anyway great for SLB to get another good result, and we all now anticipate a great Classico on Sunday...

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