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Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

The Final Stretch – European season reaches its climax

With most of the major European leagues now wrapped up, attention in most countries is turning towards the upcoming spate of cup finals across the continent. In England the FA Cup final is, of course, already done and dusted with Wigan Athletic having sensationally beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley to win that venerable trophy for the first time in their history, and on Friday night in Madrid, Spain, Atletico stunned their neighbours Real Madrid in their own backyard at the Bernabeu to win the Copa del Rey. Atletico’s 2-1 extra time win was their first victory over Real in any competition for fourteen years.

The next ten days will see the cup winners decided in Scotland, Italy, Portugal, France and Germany, as well as the Champions League final and the English Championship Play-off final for a place in next season’s Premier League. This coming weekend is the big one, with five major finals over the extended Bank Holiday break (in the UK) for fans to enjoy and European club football’s showpiece event, the Champions League Final kicks it all off on Saturday night.

The Champions League Final – Saturday 25th May 2013, 19:45, Wembley Stadium, London

This year’s final is an all-German clash between Borussia Dortmund and strongly fancied Bayern Munich. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern are the newly crowned Bundesliga champions, having dislodged Borussia from their perch, and have enjoyed perhaps the most spectacularly successful league season in their history. They won the Bundesliga at a canter by a massive twenty five points, scoring ninety eight goals in the process to end up with a staggering goal difference of plus eighty. They imperiously swept aside Barcelona in the semi finals 7-0 on aggregate to record the biggest semi final victory margin since 1960 and quite frankly they look unstoppable.

Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund have had an average season by their recent high standards and had to be content with a distant second spot having been champions two years running prior to this season. Their European form has been much better and they annihilated Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi final before holding on resolutely in the face at a late Real Madrid rally at the Bernabeu to book their spot at Wembley. Their success was dampened somewhat by the news that star man Mario Gotze will be jumping ship to Bayern this summer, putting a dent in their hopes of narrowing the gap next season, but they will be hopeful of a big performance on the night to create a small upset.

The two clubs have been regular opponents over the past twelve months with supremacy in head to head matches slowly shifting from Dortmund to the Bavarians. Dortmund had a crushing 5-2 win in the German Cup final last May but Bayern took their first chance for revenge in the Super Cup final in August, winning 2-1. The first league clash finished in a 1-1 stalemate in Munich in December but Bayern triumphed again, 1-0, in a cup quarter final in Munich in February and the return league fixture in Dortmund ended 1-1 earlier this month when the title was already sown up.

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World Cup 2010 Warm Up: Portugal 3-1 Cameroon

Portugal recovered from an embarrassing 0-0 draw with Cape Verde in Covilha eight days ago to restore some pride with a 3-1 win at the same venue over fellow World Cup contenders Cameroon, whose own preparations for the finals are not going according to plan.

 The match came alive in the 32nd minute when FC Porto’s Raul Meireles broke the deadlock. His goal was quickly followed by the dismissal of Cameroon’s star player Samuel Eto’o, who had only just returned to the side following his Champions League win with Internazionale. He picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and received his marching orders. However, his team mates stuck to the task admirably and held on until half time without any further goals at either end. Midfielder Meireles struck again at the start of the second half as Portugal began to exploit the space created by the extra man. However, Cameroon introduced N’Guemo, Idrissou and Webo mid way through the second half and the fresh legs gave them a new impetus. It was Real Mallorca’s Pierre Webo who reduced the deficit in the 69th minute and suddenly had Portugal worried. In the event, the Portuguese managed to snuff out the threat of a comeback and made the game safe with a third goal from substitute Nani, who had replaced Simao at half time.

Next up for Portugal is the long anticipated trip to South Africa and a final friendly against Mozambique in Johannesburg on the 8th of June before they take on the Ivory Coast in their opening Group G fixture in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth on the 15th of June.

Cameroon have now played three warm up fixtures without registering a victory and have a final chance to get it right against Serbia in Belgrade on the 5th of June before they do it for real against Japan in Mangaung/Bloemfontein on the 14th of June.

Portugal 3-1 Cameroon (01/06/2010)

Starting Line-ups:

Portugal:
Eduardo
Alves
Carvalho
Duda
Ferreira
Mendes
Meireles
Deco
Simao
Liedson
Ronaldo

Substitutions:
45 Danny for Liedson
45 Miguel for Ferreira
45 Nani for Simao
63 Coentrao for Duda
64 Rolando for Alves
73 Costa for Mendes

Cameroon:
Kameni
Mbia
Nkoulou
Assou-Ekotto
Mandjeck
Song
Enoh
Makoun
Emana
Choupo-Moting
Eto’o

Substitutions:
62 Webo for Song
62 Idrissou for Choupo-Moting
63 N`Guemo for Emana
78 Bong for Makoun

Goals:
Meireles (32)
Meireles (46)
Webo (69)
Nani (81)

Sending Off:
Eto’o (33)

Sporting Lisbon mulling move for ex-Everton and Portsmouth midfielder?

Could Manuel Fernandes be back on his way to Portugal?

Reports in Spain say that Sporting Lisbon are considering a move for the ex-Everton midfielder Manuel Fernandes.  Currently with Valencia in La Liga, Fernandes has been targeted by Sporting after a move for Glasgow Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes fell through.

The one-time Everton, Portsmouth and Benfica midfielder has been targeted by the Portuguese side as they look to close the gap to the top of the table in the Superliga.  Indeed Sporting Clube de Lisbon to give them their full name are now a massive 12 points off the race for the title languishing on 27 points, with the leaders Sporting Braga and cross-city rivals Benfica on 39.

Sporting have been linked with several midfielders, most notably Glasgow Rangers’ Pedro Mendes, another player with Portsmouth links, but a deal  never came to pass, and the former FC Porto player remains in Scotland.

Manuel Fernandes has made just one start this season in the UEFA Europa League, and a further 3 sub appearances in La Liga, but has fallen behind the like of Ever Banega and David Albelda in the pecking order in the central midfield area for Valencia.

Fernandes, like so many players not featuring regularly for their first team, is desperately looking for a way out of Valencia to ensure that he keeps his place in the Portugal World Cup squad later this year.  Fernandes, a one-time regular in the heart of the midfield, made 19 league appearances for Everton in two separate spells and played ten times for Pompey as well.  However, a full deal to move to Goodison Park never came off after a potential permanent move fell foul of then-recent new rules implemented by the Premier League regarding player rights and contract ownership in the wake of the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano affairs.

During his time in England he was a regular in the national team squad after impressing with his contribution in the middle of the park both going forward and screening the defence.  However he has made only one appearance for Portugal in the World Cup qualifying campaign, which dates back to November 2007. 

However, after making 27 La Liga appearances for Valenica last season, a slow recovery from injury and a susbequent loss of form have badly affected Fernandes this time around.  Therefore in a bid to salvage his season, he is now hoping that he can get some regular action with Sporting Lisbon.

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