Only ten rounds remain of Liga NOS 19/20 following the latest action that saw Benfica and Porto stumble, keeping the title race extremely close to call. Sporting got back on track after another troubling week in new coach Rúben Amorim’s first match in charge. Good form also continued for Rio Ave, Moreirense and Vitória Guimarães.
For this round’s PortuGOAL Figure of the Week though we focus on one of the division’s most exciting talents, albeit one who does not have a lot of time left on these shores. Braga’s Barcelona-bound Francisco Trincão put in a terrific display to help his team overcome Portimonense.
Only 20 years old, the supremely gifted Trincão has long been highly thought of by followers of Portuguese football having showcased his talent in small doses for Braga but also in shining for the national team at varying youth levels in the past few years.
A winger with exceptional close control and technical ability, Trincão played a bit-part for much of the current campaign but since the winter he has gained far more regular traction in the starting XI of what has mostly been an excellent Braga team of late.
He has flourished in now ex-coach Rúben Amorim’s tactical switch to 3-4-3, alleviated of any significant defensive contributions in the shape of a supporting wing-back, in Trincão’s case Ricardo Esgaio on the right flank. It is from this side that the left-footed Trincão is most effective on, more often than not cutting on his stronger foot but his skill on the ball makes him far from a predictable player for defences to cope with.
He proved too much for Portimonense to contend with on Friday’s opening match of the jornada at The Quarry. New manager Custódio saw his Braga XI make an electric start to the game as Paulinho and Ricardo Horta both rattled the woodwork, before Trincão intervened just after the half hour mark to give the home side a deserved lead. Portimonense were exposed at the back by Paulinho, who rolled the ball to Trincão for a simple finish past Shuichi Gonda.
Trincão was prominent once again as Braga doubled their advantage just before half time. His aforementioned close control and trickery evident, he squeezed a shot in at Gonda who could not hold onto his effort, and Raúl Silva pounced on the rebound for 2-0.
Braga didn’t wait long into the second half to put Portimonense out of sight, Trincão using his weaker right foot to send in a first time cross to Ricardo Horta, who calmly did the rest.
A late consolation goal from the away side was of little consequence as the Arsenalistas racked up their fourth league win in a row to tighten their grip on 3rd place in Liga NOS.
Eyebrows were naturally raised a little when Barcelona confirmed their acquisition of Trincão in January (he will officially join in the summer), the Portuguese youngster still being a raw prospect as well as a number of high-profile instances of talented players perhaps leaving this country a tad too soon in their developments of late. However Trincão’s ability in isolation is undoubted, and on a technical level the Camp Nou may just be the perfect place for these skills to be nurtured.
The prospect of Francisco Trincão and João Félix going head to head at the sharp end of one of the very strongest leagues on the planet is certainly a mouth-watering one for Seleção fans in particular. The pair’s trajectories will be followed with great interest in the coming years.
By Jamie Farr