Edition 1509
12 January 2019
Edition: 1509

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Portuguese Flourish Abroad

by Chris Wright, in Sport · 03-01-2019 14:59:00 · 0 Comments

2018 was an encouraging year for Portugal’s ever increasing world renowned football prowess; from an emerging younger and confident international squad through to managers and players, mostly plying their trade abroad, it was a year to remember.

Portuguese Flourish Abroad

On the international front a disappointing World Cup in Russia was followed by success in the new Nations League where Portugal will contest the semi-final against Switzerland in Porto on 5 June with the possibility of a final against the Netherlands or England.
 Cristiano Ronaldo made the headlines in the summer with his mega money move from Real Madrid to Juventus. Ronaldo, who will be 34 on 5 February, continues to set new records. Last March he reached his 50th career hat-trick, scoring four goals in a 6–3 win against Girona. A few weeks later he scored the first two goals in a 3–0 away win against Juventus in the quarter-finals of the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, with his second goal being an acrobatic bicycle kick. The goal, described as a “PlayStation goal” by Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli, garnered him a standing ovation from the Juventus fans in the stadium, as well as a plethora of plaudits from peers, pundits and coaches.  On 26 May Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3–1, winning Ronaldo his fifth Champions League title as Real Madrid completed their third consecutive Champions League triumph, becoming the first team to do so.
CR7 finished as the top scorer of the tournament for the sixth consecutive season, ending the campaign with fifteen goals. Ronaldo’s move to Juventus is well documented where he soon captured the hearts and minds of the Bianconeri faithful, with the club rumoured to have shifted some 520,000 jerseys bearing the Portuguese attacker’s name in just twenty-four hours. In November, he scored his first Champions League goal for Juventus in a 2–1 home defeat to his former club Manchester United and also became the first player in history to win one hundred Champions League matches, setting up Mario Mandžukiæ’s winner in a 1–0 home victory over Valencia, which sealed Juventus’s passage to the knock-out stages of the competition. On 1 December, he scored his tenth Serie A goal of the season from the penalty spot, netting the final goal in a 3–0 away win over rivals Fiorentina and thus becoming the first Juventus player since John Charles in 1957 to score ten goals in his first fourteen league games for the club.
 Equally impressive was the re-emergence of Wolverhampton Wanderers who won promotion to the English Premier League under former FC Porto boss Nuno Espírito Santos after a six year absence. With nine Portuguese players in the Wolves squad, the team accrued ten points from four matches in September, earning Santos the Manager of the Month award in just his second month managing in the top flight. Wolves ended the year in equally impressive style with a 3-1 victory at Wembley against Spurs with Hélder Costa getting the final goal. Santos started his managerial career at Rio Ave and the growing regard English football has for Portuguese coaches has seen struggling Championship outfit Reading FC lure José Manuel Gomes from the northern Portugal club just prior to Christmas. At about the same time José Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United following the club’s poor performances.
On the home front FC Porto won the Premiers Liga title after a six year wait. Sérgio Conceição, who started his managerial career at SC Olhanense seven years ago, won the title in his first season and ended 2018 with the club having won their last sixteen games in all competitions, dating back to early October. Benfica, under manager Rui Victória, and Sporting Lisbon, still recovering from the training ground attack last summer, will be striving to unseat the champions with SC Braga snapping at their heels

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Edition 1509
12 January 2019
Edition: 1509

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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