Leões/Lions Awards 2017

As always, another year where I don’t actually post anything but I do do this.

It’s been a difficult year for Sporting with a season that ended too early and a transfer policy that reeked of prime Godinho Lopes. However, the were some bright spots and some reason for optimism for next year.

Goal of the Season: Gelson Martins vs. Paços de Ferreira (Link) – After collecting a lovely through ball, Gelson Martins flicks the ball over toe goalkeeper before slotting into an empty net. It was this kind of creative play that made Gelson one of the bright spots on the season.
Runners Up: 2. Bruno César vs. Vitória de Setúbal (Link), Alan Ruiz vs. Porto (Link)
Bonus: Gelson Martins vs. Porto (Link), Bas Dost vs. Boavista (Link), Elias vs. Vitória de Guimarães (Link), Bas Dost vs. Estoril (Link)
2016: João Mário vs. Vitória de Setúbal (Link)
2015: Nani vs. Gil Vicente (Link)
2014: Carlos Mané vs. Marítimo (Link)
2013: Ricky van Wolfswinkel vs. Braga (Link)
2012: Marat Izmailov vs. Rio Ave (Link)

Worst Signing of the Season: Luc Castaignos – It’s been a difficult choice to pick just one player out to be the worst. You have Elias, Lazar Markovic, Marcelo Meli, André, Joel Campbell and Radosav Petrović. There can be a case made for each of those players. However, Luc Castaignos is the only one of those players who made it past January, and I can only assume that is because no other club wanted to take him of our hands. The once promising Dutch forward had an excellent chance to reignite his career in Portugal but could barely even get into a scoring position when given the chance. On the rare times he did get into a good position for a chance it inevitably went high and wide. A total dud.
Runners Up: 2. Lazar Markovic (Possibly an undercover agent), 3. Elias (It was worth a try)
2016: 1. Hernán Barcos, 2. Michaël Ciani, 3. Bruno Paulista
2015: 1. Simeon Slavchev, 2. Naby Sarr, 3. Ramy Rabia
2014: 1. Gérson Magrão, 2. Welder, 3. Iván Piris
2013: 1. Khalid Boulahrouz, 2. Danijel Pranjic, 3. Gelson Fernandes
2012: 1. Valeri Bojinov, 2. Luis Aguiar, 3. Elias

Best Signing of the Season: Bas Dost – It was always going to be tough to fill in for the departing Islam Slimani. Bas Dost came in form an average season in Germany with Wolfsburg but was quick to settle in to life in Portugal. Under Jorge Jesus his link up play has improved greatly as the season progressed. His aerial presence and strikers instinct are what was helped him racked up the goals all season long. Currently, he’s looking even better after forming an exciting and mildly amusing Arnie / DeVito tribute act. If he can replicate this form next season it will be something.
Runners Up: 2. Beto (A superb backup to Rui Patrício), 2. Gelson Dala (A very exciting prospect)
2016: 1. Jorge Jesus, 2. Bryan Ruiz, 3. Bruno César
2015: 1. Paulo Oliveira, 2. Nani, 3. Ewerton
2014: 1. Leonardo Jardim, 2. Islam Slimani, 3. Jefferson
2013: 1. Fabrice Fokobo, 2. Marcos Rojo, 3. Zakaria Labyad
2012: 1. Stijn Schaars, 2. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, 3. Emiliano Insúa

Next is a new award I have just made up. This season whilst some trash signings were taking up spaces there were improvements waiting for game time.

Most Under-utilised Player: Paulo Oliveira – Although Sebastián Coates was solid all season, Rúben Semedo was hot and cold. When he was good, he was excellent however when he was poor he was a massive liability. Paulo Oliveira however has always been an assured player and perhaps suffers from his relative lack of size and strength in comparison to Semedo, something Jorge Jesus seems to value in his centre-backs. He’s an intelligent defender and it would be a shame for him to leave in summer whilst pursing game time, especially after the signing of André Pinto from Braga.
Runners Up: 2. Ricardo Esgaio (Out of position at left back, he was still better than Jefferson and Marvin), 3. Matheus Pereira (When he played he was better than all our other wingers except Gelson)
Bonus Answer: Ryan Gauld

U23 Player of the Season: Gelson Martins – When times have been tough this season there has always been something to admire in watching Gelson Martins play. His game is natural which can mean he occasionally does something that looks stupid, however, it also means he can do outrageous pieces of skill and become our most powerful creative force. Hopefully Gelson (rumoured with every big club) sticks around for at least one more season to really develop further as a player.
Runners Up: 2. Daniel Podence, 3. Matheus Pereira
2016: 1. João Mário, 2. Gelson Martins, 3. Carlos Mané
2015: 1. Paulo Oliveira, 2. João Mário, 3. Carlos Mané
2014: 1. William Carvalho, 2. Carlos Mané, 3. André Carrillo
2013: 1. André Martins, 2. Eric Dier, 3. Tiago Ilori
2012: 1. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, 2. André Martins, 3. André Carrillo

B Team Player of the Season: Gelson Dala – Yes, he only arrived in January but when he came Sporting B were struggling in a relegation scrap and it looked like perhaps the first team would all have to chip in to prevent a disaster. However, with the arrival of Gelson Dala there seemed to be a player who was a level ahead of everyone else. It was no surprise he was pushing for the first team by the end of the season after his fantastic goal scoring record and eye-catching performances.
Runners Up: 2. Leonardo Ruiz, 3. Ivanildo Fernandes
2016: 1. Daniel Podence, 2. Francisco Geraldes, 3. Matheus Pereira
2015: 1. Wallyson Mallmann, 2. Gelson Martins, 3. Ryan Gauld
2014: 1. Ricardo Esgaio, 2. Iuri Medeiros, 3. Wallyson Mallmann
2013: 1. Ricardo Esgaio, 2. Eric Dier, 3. Bruma

Player of the Season: Bas Dost – As stated above, what a signing Bas Dost has been. He was even chasing Lionel Messi for the Golden Boot, no mean feat.
Runners Up: 2. Gelson Martins (Excellent creative output), 3. Sebastián Coates (Solid all season long)
2016: 1. Islam Slimani, 2. Adrien Silva, 3. João Mário
2015: 1. André Carrillo, 2. Nani, 3. Adrien Silva
2014: 1. William Carvalho, 2. Adrien Silva, 3. Cédric Soares
2013: 1. Rui Patrício, 2. Diego Capel, 3. Fabián Rinaudo
2012: 1. Rui Patrício, 2. Stijn Schaars, 3. Ricky van Wolfswinkel

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Sporting players called up to Portugal squads

The latest squad selections for the Portuguese national teams have been announced and, as ever, Sporting are greatly represented.

The biggest news is Gelson Martins’ first called up to the senior squad by Fernando Santos. The winger’s excellent start to the season has not gone unnoticed however Rúben Semedo has not made it to the senior team and is included in the U21 squad.

Portugal: Rui Patrício, William Carvalho, Adrien Silva, Gelson Martins
Portugal U21: Domingos Duarte, Rúben Semedo, Tobias Figueiredo, Pedro Empis, Francisco Geraldes, Daniel Podence
Portugal U19: Abdu Conté, Bruno Paz, Gonçalo Vieira, Pedro Marques

Elsewhere there were players selected for the Women’s side as well. Susana Cova named 5 Sporting players in her U19 team and 3 Sporting players were selected for the U17 team.

Portugal U19: Bárbara Marques, Bruna Costa, Inês Pereira, Neuza Besugo, Tânia Rodrigues
Portugal U17: Joana Martins, Beatriz Conduto, Carolina Monteiro

Player Ratings: Rio Ave vs. SPORTING

Well, instead of (maybe) writing a match report after last night’s shambles against Rio Ave, I thought it would work out better to give ratings to the players instead of telling you everything you already saw. So, here we go:

Rui Patrício – 6: Couldn’t do anything about any of the goals and made plenty of good saves in between.

Ezequiel Schelotto – 3: Looked very shaky defensively and wasn’t much of a threat going forward.

Sebastián Coates – 5: He seemed very out of sorts after ordinarily being assured at the bank since he arrived.

Rúben Semedo – 6: Probably the best player on the pitch for Sporting. Made some crucial interceptions and his pace and strength were evident throughout.

Bruno César – 0: After playing so well and scoring against Real Madrid, this is probably Bruno César’s worst performance in a Sporting shirt. Jorge Jesus’ experiment with him at left-back is head scratcher when Jefferson is such a superior replacement.

William Carvalho – 5: Some good moments but generally a poor overall performance from William.

Adrien Silva – 6: As always, he gave 100%. He created more chances in centre midfielder than most of our strikers.

Gelson Martins – 4: Back to earth for Gelson Martins after his stella performance in Madrid. Perhaps the reports in the press comparing him to Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo went to his head. He did however set up the goal and took a whack to the head by the goal post in the process.

Joel Campbell – 2: Looked lost on the pitch and couldn’t get involved. On the left he offered little support for Bruno César.

Alan Ruiz – 3: Couldn’t influence the game at all, had a few bright spots but was most anonymous.

André – 2: If Alan Ruiz was mostly anonymous then André was definitely anonymous. Didn’t do anything the entire game.

Substitutes:

Bryan Ruiz – 5: Certainly a big improvement when he came on and he was a far more creative than any of the other attackers in the first half. His cross helped set up Sporting’s goal.

Bas Dost – 6: 2 goals in 2 games is a great start for Bas Dost. He had a few other decent chances and looked the part up front.

Lazar Marković – 4: Couldn’t put his stamp on the game and was booked at the end for diving to try and win a penalty. That only works at Benfica, Lazar.

Jorge Jesus – 3: After the usual egotistical comments in the press, it was a dramatic slice of humble pie for Jesus. Clearly made a mistake in his initial team selection and the Bruno César at left-back experiment is still worrying.

João Pinheiro – 5: It was generally an easy game to referee but João Pinheiro still got a lot of calls in the middle of the park wrong. However, the bigger calls, (e.g. Marković’s dive) were correct.

Sporting Squad to Face Real Madrid

Sporting’s squad that travels to Spain to face Cristiano Ronaldo and friends tomorrow has been announced.

The Champions League allows for bigger squads than the Primeira Liga so it’s no surprise to see players like Vladimir Stojković make the cut.

Here’s the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Beto, Vladimir Stojković
Defenders: João Pereira, Ezequiel Schelotto, Ricardo Esgaio, Rúben Semedo, Sebastián Coates, Paulo Oliveira, Douglas Teixeira, Marvin Zeegelaar, Jefferson
Midfielders: William Carvalho, Adrien Silva, Bruno César, Elias, Radosav Petrović, Marcelo Meli, Bruno Paulista
Forwards: Lazar Marković, Bryan Ruiz, Gelson Martins, Matheus Pereira, Alan Ruiz, André, Bas Dost, Joel Campbell, Luc Castaignos

SPORTING 3-0 Moreirense

Sporting retained top spot of the Primeira Liga with a comfortable 3-0 win of Moreirense. The visitors were proving difficult opponents until Ângelo Neto stupidly got himself sent off in the first half which made it plain sailing for Sporting.

Jorge Jesus was without the departed Islam Slimani so Bas Dost made his debut in place of the Algerian. Bruno César dropped down to left-back and Joel Campbell made his first start. Alan Ruiz started ahead of Bryan Ruiz whilst new signings Elias, André, and Lazar Marković were on the bench.

Initially Sporting it found it difficult to find time on the ball against Moreirense Pepa’s team pressed high up the pitch and caused Sporting problems with their pace.

Sporting did find a goal though after 27 minutes. William Carvalho’s looped pass found Gelson Martins in the area. The winger, fresh off scoring against Porto, made no mistake here against Giorgi Makaridze.

Moreirense shot themselves in the foot when Ângelo Neto received his second yellow card after just 34 minutes. His first had been for wearing his wedding ring and this one was for a studs up challenge on William Carvalho.

After that the game was all Sporting, especially in the second half when Sporting’s attack flowed more than in the first.

Sporting got the 2nd goal after 52 minutes when Alan Ruiz found the head of Joel Campbell. The Costa Rican made no mistake from close range to continue his eye catching start to life in Portugal.

The third goal came through Bas Dost who needed to goes at it but the Dutch man opened his account.

Sporting breezed through the rest of the match in which Jorge Jesus gave debuts (and re-debuts) to Lazar Marković, André and Elias.

Having the job finished early was important for Sporting with facing Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; Ezequiel Schelotto, Sebastián Coates, Rúben Semedo, Bruno César; William Carvalho, Adrien Silva (Elias, 67′); Gelson Martins (Lazar Marković, 60′), Joel Campbell; Alan Ruiz (André, 78′), Bas Dost
Substitutes Not Used: Beto, Paulo Oliveira, Jefferson, Bryan Ruiz

Champions League Squad Announced

The squad for Sporting’s Champions League campaign has been announced. UEFA has yet to publish the “B” list, meaning some youth team players like Matheus Pereira and Gelson Martins don’t feature but that should follow shortly.

All of the new signings feature, the only missing name from the first team squad proper is goalkeeper Ažbe Jug.

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Beto, Vladimir Stojković*, Luís Maximiano*, Pedro Silva*
Defenders: Ezequiel Schelotto, Jefferson, Sebastián Coates, Paulo Oliveira, Douglas Teixeira, João Pereira, Rúben Semedo, Ricardo Esgaio, Marvin Zeegelaar, Pedro Empis*, Mauro Riquicho*, Ivanildo Fernandes*, Guilherme Ramos*, Abdu Conté*, Gonçalo Vieira*, Jefferson Encada*
Midfielders: Radosav Petrović, Bruno César, William Carvalho, Elias, Adrien Silva, Marcelo Meli, Bruno Paulista, Alan Ruiz, Bubacar Djaló*, Gelson Martins*, Bruno Paz*, Pedro Ferreira*, Fábio Martins*
Forwards: Lazar Marković, Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, André, Luc Castaignos, Bas Dost, Luís Eloi*, Matheus Pereira*

*B list

Edited 13/9 to include to include the B squad.

SPORTING 2-1 Porto

Match report from PortuGOAL.net:

Sporting were the victors in the first clássico of the season after an entertainingly scrappy affair at the Alvalade.

Felipe gave the Dragões the lead but goals from the departing Islam Slimani and then Gelson Martins gave the win to Sporting, who now lead the Primeira Liga.

There has been plenty of buzz off the pitch in Portuguese football this weekend with the transfer market making the headlines. The more important action though was on the pitch in the first clássico of the season.

Sporting were, of course, without João Mário after the midfielder’s big money move to Inter. Gelson Martins started in his place and Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, started on the bench.

Despite Nuno Espírito Santo’s side having put Roma to the sword in style in order to qualify for the Champions League midweek, there was only one change; Miguel Layún replaced the injured Maxi Pereira.

Porto take an early lead

Porto may have excused for some tiredness after the game against Roma in the fiery Alvalade atmosphere, but it was they who started the game off with a goal after just 8 minutes.

Referee Tiago Martins gave a soft freekick to Porto outside the area. Miguel Layún’s delivery from it was perfect with Sporting defenders unable to cope and Felipe was allowed to put the ball past Rui Patrício from close range. The Brazilian defender made it 2 goals in 2 games.

Slimani scores against Porto again

Sporting found it hard to get going but they hit back in the 14th minute. It was another freekick situation, this time Bruno César’s shot hit the post. Gelson Martins was the first to react to the situation, and he slid the ball under Iker Casillas. The Spaniard got something on it and it looked like the ball was going to bounce on the goal line and out back into play. However, Islam Slimani, who has a knack of scoring for Porto, made sure of the goal when he smashed it in to score what may be his last goal for Sporting.

Gelson gives Sporting the lead

Sporting grew after that goal and got the second in the 27th minute. Bryan Ruiz picked up the ball in the Porto area. Casillas would later claim it was handball but replays showed that although the ball did touch Ruiz’s hand there was little the Costa Rican could have done about it. Ruiz found Gelson Martin whose powerful shot beat Casillas to put Sporting ahead. Casillas was booked for his protest and Gelson for celebrating without his shirt.

Porto almost hit back immediately. André André picked up the ball from outside the Sporting area and unleashed a fantastic curling shot that had Patrício beaten but went just inches wide.

Then it was Sporting’s turn. This time Casillas was caught out going for a ball and Adrien Silva had a chance but the Spaniard recovered in time to stop Adrien’s shot.

It was a fantastically entertaining 45 minutes of football with Sporting narrowly the better of the two sides. In the second half, although the intensity increased the quality dipped. Nuno Espírito Santo replaced the ineffectual Jesús Corona with the returning Óliver Torres at the break, this being the Spaniard’s first game since returning to Porto from Atlético Madrid.

Sporting almost made it three when Rúben Semedo, who was a rock in defence once again, got his head to Marvin Zeegelaar’s cross. The defender couldn’t keep the ball down to head what would have been an open goal. Casillas was needed five minutes later this time to keep William Carvalho’s header from a corner out.

The game then got scrappy. Sporting looked happy to hold onto the lead and to try and counter where as Porto tried to attack but looked unable to get any fluidity in their movements. João Pereira and Rúben Semedo were having stand out performances in the Sporting back line.

Porto needed to try and change things so Laurent Depoitre came on for André André and later Adrián López for Otávio but the Dragões looked tired from their Champions League victory and as the game wore on became less of a threat despite getting into good positions.

Jorge Jesus, sent to the stands during the second half, which is now almost standard practice for any big match, gave Joel Campbell his debut, replacing compatriot Bryan Ruiz. The Arsenal forward looked lively in his cameo.

In the end, the result was a just one with Sporting overall the better of the two teams and it is they that go into the international break leaders of the Primeira Liga.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira (YC), Sebastián Coates, Rúben Semedo, Marvin Zeegelaar; William Carvalho (YC), Adrien Silva (YC); Gelson Martins (YC) (Bruno Paulista, 68’, YC), Bruno César (YC) (Carlos Mané, 90’); Bryan Ruiz (Joel Campbell, 68’), Islam Slimani
Substitutes Not Used: Beto, Ezequiel Schelotto, Paulo Oliveira, Alan Ruiz

Champions League Draw, Douglas, André

There’s plenty of big news to catch up on with the Champions League draw, the signings of Douglas and André, the departure of Alberto Aquilani, and the usual transfer rumours.

Firstly, we’ll look at the Champions League draw. It’s a very tough group for Sporting but does involve the return of a familiar face to the Alvalade. Here are the full Champions League fixtures:

14th September: Real Madrid vs. SPORTING
27th September: SPORTING vs. Legia Warszawa
18th October: SPORTING vs. Borussia Dortmund
2nd November: Borussia Dortmund vs. SPORTING
22nd November: SPORTING vs. Real Madrid
7th December: Legia Warszawa vs. SPORTING

It’s looking like 3rd place is going to be the most likely outcome of that group but the return of Cristiano Ronaldo should be a great moment.

Madrid, Dortmund and Legia will also be the opponents for Sporting’s U19 side as Sporting return to the UEFA Youth League.

Yesterday Sporting also completed the long expected transfer of Douglas Teixeira from Trabzonspor. The Brazilian turned Dutch central defender has a 3-year contract with the option of an extra year.

No word of a transfer fee but the 28-year old is going to find it difficult to get in the team ahead of Rúben Semedo and Sebastián Coates. This is should accelerate the departures of Naldo, rumoured to be joining Krasnodar on loan shortly, and Ewerton.

The departure of Alberto Aquilani has finally concluded. The Italian midfielder rescinded his contract and has joined Pescara.

Before that, on Wednesday evening there was the signing of Brazilian forward André from Corinthians. Apparently, Sporting have used some of the debt owed the club by Corinthians (back from the transfer of Elias) as part of the transfer fee but no official word on the value.

André signs a contract until 2019 with an option of 2 more seasons and a release clause of €60,000,000.

According to O Jogo, Sporting want to give a new contract to Gelson Martins. Martins currently has a contract until 2021, however Sporting want to increase the player’s wages as well extend the length of the contract.

A Bola say that there are Primeira Liga clubs looking to sign Daniel Podence on loan, with Sporting willing to allow the player to gain experience elsewhere.

Finally, the rumours of the signing of Bas Dost have returned. If you believe all the rumours then Sporting have competition from some English sides however should Sporting sign the Wolfsburg man it is likely it could lead to the exit of Islam Slimani.

Zenit St. Petersburg 4-2 SPORTING / Estoril 0-2 SPORTING B

There was mixed fortunes for both Sporting teams as pre-season continued. The first team lost 4-2 to Zenit St. Petersburg with Bruno César and Gelson Martins scoring for Jorge Jesus’ team but João de Deus’ B team did pick up a win against Estoril.

Jesus rotated his team completely from the win over Stade Nyonnais with the likes of Alan Ruiz and Radosav Petrović starting. Bryan Ruiz also started in a deeper role once again, an experiment that hopefully only lasts until the Euro 2016 Champions return to the team.

Zenit took the lead after just 8 minutes when Jorge Jesus’ former player Javi García scored past Ažbe Jug. Sporting bounced back immediately though, through Bruno César after excellent play from Gelson Martins.

Yuri Zhirkov made it 2-1 in the 16th minute although Jug would have felt he could have done better. Aleksandr Kerzhakov made it 3 immediately afterwards, this time after a mistake from Rúben Semedo.

Hernán Barcos set up Gelson Martins before half-time to pull one back for Sporting.

The game slowed down in the second half with both sides making plenty of substitutes. Zenit though managed one more goal through Luka Djordjević just before the end to make it 4-2.

SPORTING XI: Ažbe Jug; Ezequiel Schelotto, Sebastián Coates, Rúben Semedo, Marvin Zeegelaar (Jefferson, 86′); Radosav Petrović (João Palhinha, 68′), Bryan Ruiz (Ricardo Esgaio, 89′); Bruno César (Scored, 9′) (Matheus Pereira, 63′), Gelson Martins (Scored, 37′) (Iuri Medeiros, 68′); Alan Ruiz (YC) (Daniel Podence, 46′), Hernán Barcos (Islam Slimani, 46′)

At Alcochete Sporting B beat Estoril 2-0 thanks to goals from new signing Edu Pinheiro and youngster Ronaldo Tavares. No word yet of any more details about the match.

Europa League Squad Announced

Sporting have announced their Europa League squad for the upcoming group stages. No real surprises in the squads, Sporting certainly benefitting from being able to register Tobias Figueiredo, Carlos Mané and Gelson Martins as “B” players.

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Marcelo Boeck, Ažbe Jug, Guilherme Oliveira*, Pedro Silva*, Vladimir Stojković*
Defenders: Jonathan Silva, Jefferson, Ewerton, Paulo Oliveira, Naldo, Ricardo Esgaio, Tobias Figueiredo*, Domingos Duarte*, Mauro Riquicho*
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani, William Carvalho, João Mário, Adrien Silva, André Martins, Bruno Paulista, Francisco Geraldes*, Fábio Martins*, Rafael Barbosa*
Forwards: Junya Tanaka, Islam Slimani, Fredy Montero, André Carrillo, Teófilo Gutiérrez, Carlos Mané*, Cristian Ponde*, Daniel Podence*, Gelson Martins*, Matheus Pereira*

*”B list”