2 Sporting Players in Portugal’s Euro 2012 Squad

Former Sporting manager Paul Bento announced his Portugal squad to go to Euro 2012 next month. In it Bento included two Sporting players (and several ex-Sporting players).

Rui Patrício and João Pereira were selected meaning the likes of Daniel Carriço, André Martins and André Santos all miss out.

Elsewhere, Stijn Schaars features in Bert van Marwijk’s preliminary list of 36 players and Marat Izmailov made Russia coach Dick Advocaat’s preliminary list of 26. Izmailov has not featured in a major international tournament for his country since Euro 2004.

Leões/Lions Awards 2012

Welcome to the first Leões/Lions awards! I’ll be handing out a couple of awards to Sporting players who I think deserve them. It may not be exactly the end of the season with the Taça de Portugal final still to come but I think I’ve seen enough to hand them out just that little bit early.

Goal of the Season: Marat Izmailov vs. Rio Ave (Link): Izmailov’s goal against Rio Ave is an excellent example of some of the magic that the Russian midfielder can produce. Izmailov beats to Rio Ave players before smashing a shot past the goalkeeper from 25 yards away. Superb goal. (Judging goals is usually based purely on taste, so if you think there’s anything I missed that should be a contender then feel free to share.)
Runners-Up: Matías Fernández vs. Manchester City (Link), André Santos vs. Legia Warszawa (Link), Fabián Rinaudo vs. Nacional (Link)

Worst Signing of the Season: Valeri Bojinov – That penalty incident, you know the one I mean against Moreirense in the Taça da Liga. Not only that Bojinov rarely looked too much like his former self and for such a talented player it’s clear the several injuries in his career have affected him. It was no surprise to see him go on loan to Lecce on January and he won’t be expected back – he’s even been an issue at Lecce too.
Runners-Up: Luis Aguiar (yes, he’s a Sporting player), Elias (average performances for a large transfer fee after a bright start)

Signing of the Season: Stijn Schaars – €850,000 was the transfer fee for AZ captain Stijn Schaars. In a world where fellow midfield man Elias cost more than 10x that it has been Schaars who had been the better of the  two. Stijn has been central to a lot of the rhythm of Sporting’s play as well as being an important part in defensive work and set-pieces. Should Schaars play against Académica in the Taça de Portugal final it will be his 50th appearance for Sporting this season – a sure sign of his importance to the team.
Runners-Up
: Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Emiliano Insúa

Young Player (U-23) of the Season: Ricky van Wolfswinkel – It’s hard to believe that Ricky van Wolfswinkel only just turned 23 back in January (meaning he was 22 at the start of the season and eligible for this award). €5,400,000 brought the Dutch striker from FC Utrecht to Sporting and van Wolfswinkel has managed impressively to fill the void that Liédson’s departure left us. With 24 goals in 45 appearances made all the more impressive by the fact he was frequently up front all on his own with some at times very little service to live on. Perhaps the most telling stat is that in the Primeira Liga this season Ricky van Wolfswinkel is the player to have scored the most winning goals that have produced victories for a season. His goals are frequent and frequently important.
Runners-Up: André Martins, André Carrillo

Player of the Season: Rui Patrício – There’s little that can be said about São Patrício besides… please never leave. Once again Patrício has been world class this season having saved Sporting’s skin on a gigantic amount of occasions. There’s growing speculation that this may finally be Portugal goalkeeper’s last season and should he leave he deserves to go for a massive price tag. He will be vital for any club he arrives at. Had it not been for Patrício then where would Sporting be?
Runners-Up: Stijn Schaars, Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Disagree with anything? Feel free to comment

Match Report: SPORTING 5-0 Vitória de Guimarães

A superb Sporting performance gave the Lions a 5-0 win at home to Vitória de Guimarães last night that will serve as a springboard for Thursday’s forthcoming match against Manchester City.

With that game in mind Ricardo Sá Pinto made changes to his squad leaving out Daniel Carriço and Emiliano Insúa with Evaldo Fabiano and Elias taking their place in midfield.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel opened the scoring after just 20 minutes with Sporting firmly on top after Matías Fernández fed the Dutchman. It was van Wolfswinkel’s first goal in open play in 2012 and the look of relief on the striker’s face was evident.

Sporting went into half-time one goal to the good and firmly on top of the game in what a half in which they dominated possession and should have had a larger lead going into the interval.

It took just 5 minutes for Sporting to grab a second after the interval when a poor clearance from Bruno Teles fell to the feet of Matías Fernández, the Chilean who has been in a rich run of form lately, slotted home to double Sporting’s advantage. Guimarães offered little going forward and the goal looked like it would kill the game off even with 40 minutes left to play.

Good play from Nuno Assis dispossessing Elias in his own half resulted in an excellent chance for Edgar to get the visiting side back into the game but Rui Patrício did well to save.

Nuno Assis’ next contribution was not so impressive as he foolishly tripped Ricky van Wolfswinkel in the penalty area. Marat Izmailov was the man to step up and smashed the ball straight down the centre to put Sporting 3-0 up.

Another highlight for Sporting was the excellent return for Jeffrén Suárez. The former Barcelona man came on in the 79th minute in place of Marat Izmailov and impressed everyone by scoring a late brace.

The first was a superb strike on the outside of the area after Jeffrén chested down from a corner to the outside of the box. The second a clever run and finish just under goalkeeper Nilson to make the score 5-0. It was a striking cameo and a reminder to Sporting fans just what a talent they signed back in summer.

The performance is perhaps the best of 2012 (excluding perhaps last week’s win over Manchester City) and will give Sá Pinto and the team confidence for their upcoming trip to Manchester for the second leg on Thursday.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Xandão, Evaldo Fabiano; Stijn Schaars, Elias, Matías Fernández (YC) (André Martins 69′); Marat Izmailov (Jeffrén Suárez 79′), Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sebastián Ribas 83′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Bruno Pereirinha, Daniel Carriço, André Santos

Match Report: SPORTING 1-0 Rio Ave

Sporting earned a narrow 1-0 win over Rio Ave at the Alvalade to keep just ahead of Marítimo in the league.

Ricardo Sá Pinto had changes to make from the side that won 1-0 against Legia Warszawa in the Europa League on Thursday.

Alberto Rodríguez was injured in the game and Xandão was called in his place to partner Ânderson Polga with Daniel Carriço retaining his role as the defensive midfielder. Rui Patrício was also absent so Marcelo Boeck took his place and Diego Capel returned in place of the suspended André Carrillo.

The first half was an even and engaging encounter and it was Sporting who had the first chance of the game. Diego Capel, playing on the right-wing, whipped in a ball for Emiliano Insúa but the Argentine failed to connect properly with his strike.

There was controversy in the game when Paulo Baptista only gave a yellow card to Rio Ave goalkeeper Huanderson after he handled in the area following a mix up with defender Gaspar. Ânderson Polga took the resulting freekick and went narrowly wide of scoring.

Marcelo Boeck was called into action when Christian Atsu shot from distance but the Brazilian goalkeeper palmed his effort wide.

Sporting got their goal after 34 minutes after some magic from Marat Izmailov. The Russian weaved around with the ball in midfield before hitting a superb long range effort that swerved in the air to deceive Huanderson and put Sporting ahead.

Just 5 minutes before the half-time break and Rio Ave went close when João Tomás nearly scored from close range following a corner but Sporting went into the break a goal ahead.

In comparison the second-half was an incredibly dull affair with Sporting have only one chance of note when substitute Bruno Pereirinha almost found Ricky van Wolfswinkel in the box but the Dutch striker was just inches away from scoring.

Christian Atsu and Anselmo both had chances towards the end of the game for the visitors but failed to hit the target.

Although the second-half was dire the first half was much improved and the results are now picking up. It’s 3 wins in a row now for Ricardo Sá Pinto and Sporting with Vitória Setúbal up next on Saturday.

SPORTING XI: Marcelo Boeck; João Pereira (YC), Xandão, Ânderson Polga, Emiliano Insúa; Daniel Carriço, Stijn Schaars (André Santos 80′), Elias (YC); Marat Izmailov (Evaldo Fabiano 86′), Diego Capel (Bruno Pereirinha 69′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (YC)
Subs Not Used: Tiago, André Martins, Matías Fernández, Sebastián Ribas

News Round Up / We’re Back!

Apologies one and all, for the pure laziness of your blogger (since I’ve gone… Sporting even won a game). So, here’s a round up of some of the more recent stories I’ve missed (not all – I don’t have all day.

Vice-President Carlos Barbosa has resigned with the club saying his reorganisation of the commercial structure is done. I’m not sure what this really means to the club.

Unsurprisingly after his moment of madness, Valeri Bojinov has been loaned to Lecce. Don’t expect to ever see him return and the Bulgarian will probably be sold in summer for an incredibly cheap price. Lecce do have am apparent €2.5m buy-out cause at the end of the season but other clubs may well be interested.

Yannick Djaló incredibly ended his transfer limbo by moving to not Nice or Aston Villa… but Benfica. Yep. It’s fairly satisfying to know that Benfica fans will also soon become incredibly frustrated by his combination of great-talent-bad-brain.

Now your blogger will not be here to post about this weekend’s clash against Gil Vicente but rumours are that Marat Izmailov, Fabián Rinaudo could be in line to start although Ricky van Wolfswinkel may need another week to wait.

Rio Ave vs. SPORTING Preview

Sporting return after the Winter break into Taça da Liga action in what will be a packed two months in which Sporting will be playing fourteen matches.

The squad that will travel to face Rio Ave has some notable inclusions: Matías Fernández and Marat Izmailov are included after their respective injuries. Izmailov in particular has done well to recover this quickly after his surgery. New squad members Renato Neto (#31) and Xandão (#13) will not be a part of the squad though. Daniel Carriço misses out after he was injured in the Marítimo match and faces a couple of weeks out – leaving Sporting somewhat light defensively.

Sporting’s full squad traveling to face Rio Ave is:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Marcelo Boeck
Defenders: Ânderson Polga, Oguchi Onyewu, João Pereira, Emiliano Insúa
Midfielders: Elias, Marat Izmailov, Matías Fernández, Stijn Schaars, Bruno Pereirinha, André Santos, André Martins, André Carrillo, Diego Capel
Forwards: Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Valeri Bojinov

The two clubs met earlier this season when Sporting ran out 2-3 winners in what was an entertaining match. Stijn Schaars and Ricky van Wolfswinkel had put Sporting ahead by two goals after just three minutes but Rio Ave pulled it back. It took Oguchi Onyewu’s header to secure the win for Sporting that night. The two have also met in the Taça da Liga before back in 2009 when Simon Vukčević’s goal was enough for Sporting in a 1-0 win that night.

With the fixtures in the League and the Taça de Portugal likely to be considered by Domingos Paciência as more important it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pick a slightly more under strength side. The game big against Porto afterwards could be some distraction so this could be the perfect time for giving fringe players a run out and giving minutes back to those returning from injuries.

Possible SPORTING XI:

Marcelo Boeck

João Pereira – Ânderson Polga – Oguchi Onyewu – Emiliano Insúa

André Santos – Stijn Schaars – Elias

André Carrillo – Valeri Bojinov – Diego Capel

Marat Izmailov May Require Surgery

Bad news for Sporting today as there are fears Marat Izmailov could face a further surgery to his right knee. It is the same problem that forced Izmailov to miss a year of action until he returned in April last season.

For now the Russian midfielder, who has started the season of well with 3 goals, is being allowed to sit out training, before further assessment on his knee.

According to Record though, Izmailov will require a further operation to that knee that has plagued him through his career. A further surgery now would almost certainly but him out of action until at least sometime in 2012.

Report: Paços de Ferreira 2-3 SPORTING

Sporting Clube de Portugal got their first 3 points of the league season with, in the circumstances, a highly impressive away against Paços de Ferreira.

Sporting could not have made it harder for themselves, after 75 minutes Paços de Ferreira were 2-0 against Sporting and must have thought that they would at least come away with some points against the misfiring Leões side.

For the starting XI, coach Domingos Paciência made some changes to the starting eleven. Of course, Yannick Djaló and Hélder Postiga have both moved on to other clubs and so they both had to be replaced (previously they had started every match under Paciência). In the place of Yannick was the returning Bruno Pereirinha and in the place of Postiga was a first start of Valeri Bojinov.

Another interesting selection in the starting XI was the inclusion of Oguchi Onyweu, making his Primeira Liga debut, in place of Ânderson Polga. Emiliano Insúa in the place of Evaldo Fabiano. Elias also made his first appearance for Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Paços took the lead within the first 5 minutes with Michel opening the scoring, striking from the result of an indirect freekick. It is the kind of goal that Sporting have become far too used to conceding recently.

Stijn Schaars had the closest chance of the first half with his freekick curling on to the bar with the Paços goalkeeper Cássio well beaten.

Going into half-time it felt like a familiar scenario for any Sportinguistas watching. For the most part Sporting had the better of the play but still found themselves a goal behind with only themselves to blame.

In the 55th minute the game looked dead and buried for Sporting as Michel’s header made it 2-0 to Paços de Ferreira on the night.

Sporting though refused to capitulate and on the 71st minute Nuno Santos picked up his second yellow on the night after a foul on Diego Rubio, meaning Paços were down to ten men.

Sporting were quick to take advantage and found their way back into the match on the 76th minute, with Marat Izmailov’s deflected shot sneaking its way into the net. It was a fortunate break for Sporting but one that they took the utmost advantage of.

Just 3 minutes later, debutant Elias made it 2-2 and only 5 minutes after that Ricky van Wolfswinkel timely got his first Sporting goal to make it 2-3 and to eventually give Sporting the 3 points on the night.

It was a great win for Sporting to stop Paços de Ferreira from becoming too much of a bogey team and ensured Domingos Paciência and Sporting picked up their first league win of the season thus far.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Alberto Rodríguez, Oguchi Onyewu, Emiliano Insúa (YC); Fabián Rinaudo, Stijn Schaars (Marat Izmailov 46′, Scored 76′); Bruno Pereirinha (Diego Rubio 55′), Elias (Scored 79′), Diego Capel; Valeri Bojinov (Ricky van Wolfswinkel 64′, Scored 84′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Ânderson Polga, Evaldo Fabiano, André Santos

Report: SPORTING 2-3 Marítimo

Domingos Paciência suffered his first competitive defeat at home to Marítimo. Marítimo exploited Sporting’s weakness in set piece defending two secure a stoppage win.

Sporting started the match with the same starting eleven that won 2-1 over Nordsjælland and the match started in a similar with Sporting straight away in control.

Yannick Djaló forcing Peçanha into a good stop in the 9th minute was Sporting’s first real chance but there was also early warning signs about Sporting’s frailty to defend from set pieces.

17 minutes into the match and Marítimo had their first real chance on goal with Olberdam’s header forcing a superb save out of Rui Patrício. Sporting’s inability to defend corners would have a massive impact later on in the match.

There was though a massive decision that went against Sporting. Evaldo Fabiano, who scored in the last game, had the ball in the back of the Marítimo net after Peçanha let loose a Stijn Schaars freekick in to the Brazilians path. The assistant referee flagged for offside but replays showed that Evaldo was definitely onside at the time of Schaar’s freekick. The growing feud between the club and the FPF and the referees may well end even more sour and a farce like before the Beira-Mar game may not be far off.

Not long after that though Sporting had the ball in the net again and this time there was no way it could be ruled out. Marat Izmailov got his second goal of the season with a great strike from outside the area that left Peçanha helpless.

Not long after half-time Marítimo had gone from 1-0 down to 2-1 up. The first a great header by Rafael Miranda from a corner only moments after Robson forced a great Patrício save from another set piece.

The second was a piece of great play from Sami. Who failed to be closed down and was allowed a to shoot from distance, the shot was powerful and although Patrício got a touch, he was unable to do anything about it.

The sudden reversal of the score immediately forced Domingos Paciência to make some changes. Diego Capel and Yannick Djaló were replaced by the returning Jeffrén Suárez and Valeri Bojinov. Paciência made a final change ten minutes later bringing on Ricky van Wolfswinkel for Hélder Postiga.

Jeffrén grabbed an equaliser as he smashed in a freekick but injured himself in the process. Jeffrén has been one of the best performers this season and hopefully his injury will not be too serious.

The injury to Jeffrén meant Sporting now had to finish the game down to ten men and for the most part a draw seemed likely until the 91st minute. Once again another corner came in and this time Baba, the man who may well be set to join Celtic shortly, was the man to grab the goal.

The game finished with boos from the Sportinguistas in the Alvalade and now the team will have to wait until after the international break to grab the team’s first league win of the season.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Daniel Carriço, Ânderson Polga (YC), Evaldo Fabiano; André Santos (YC), Stijn Schaars (YC); Yannick Djaló (Valeri Bojinov 54′), Marat Izmailov (Scored 37′, YC), Diego Capel (Jeffrén Suárez 54′, Scored 75′); Hélder Postiga (Ricky van Wolfswinkel 64′).
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Oguchi Onyewu, André Carrillo, Fabián Rinaudo

Report: SPORTING 1-1 Olhanense

Sporting’s beginning to the a promising new season didn’t exactly go as many had planned at home to Olhanense. Wilson Eduardo’s superb strike against his parent club meant Sporting would have to come from behind but were unable to score until Marat Izmailov’s 77th minute goal.

The game marked the official debuts of a whole host of new signings; Alberto Rodríguez, Fabián Rinaudo, Stijn Schaars, Jeffrén, Diego Rubio, and Diego Capel. It showed too, as there was a lack of cohesion in the team going forward, for all of the Sporting possession there lacked a cutting edge. It’s a familiar theme to last season although there’s still plenty of hope for the rest of the season.

Somewhat surprising was that Domingos Paciência did not go for the 4-1-3-2 formation that had been prevalent through-out most of pre-season instead opting for 3 in midfield with Schaars the more advanced ahead of Rinaudo and André Santos.

Another surprise was that Paciência left Daniel Carriço on the bench instead choosing Ânderson Polga and Alberto Rodríguez as the centre-back pairing and meaning João Pereira captained the team.

It was 29 minutes until Wilson Eduardo’s goal put Olhanense ahead. Wilson Eduardo is one of 3 Sporting players on loan at Olhanense currently along side João Gonçalves and Mexer. There will be concerns with how Eduardo was able to get his shot away without being closed down sooner but the strike was so good that Rui Patrício, on his 62nd consecutive Liga start, could do nothing. It should be noted that Wilson Eduardo did not celebrate after scoring.

The goal was against the run of play though, Hélder Postiga was unlucky not to have scored by that point with Olhanense’s Brazilian goalkeeper Fabiano doing well to prevent a Postiga header and a Jeffrén drive.

There was a controversial moment too after Jeffrén’s well saved shot as the ball bounced back out there looked to be a hand used by the Olhanense player but the referee, Carlos Xistra, did not give a penalty.

In the second half again a Jeffrén delivery caused danger with Hélder Postiga getting on the end of it with a header but it went narrowly wide of the goal.

The equaliser came in the 77th minute with a long cross from Evaldo found Marat Izmailov at the back post who’s shot was well saved by Fabiano but the goalkeeper could only rebound the ball back in to Izmailov’s feet and then passed it calmly into the net.

In the 89th minute a Stijn Schaars strike went narrowly wide to win the game for Sporting but the game finished 1-1.

Although performance wise this wasn’t the worst for Sporting the lack of finishing may well be a concern. Sporting next face Nordsjælland away on Thursday before the next league game in Aveiro away to Beira-Mar.

SPORTING: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Alberto Rodríguez, Evaldo Fabiano; Fabián Rinaudo (YC), André Santos (Marat Izmailov 45′, Scored 77′), Stijn Schaars; Jeffrén Suárez (YC) (Diego Rubio 55′), Yannick Djaló (Diego Capel 63′); Hélder Postiga
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Daniel Carriço, Bruno Pereirinha, Ricky van Wolfswinkel