Our first “Talk of the Town” feature zooms in on northern outfit Chaves.
PortuGOAL runs the rule over the newly promoted side and assesses the prospects of the Transmontanos having a successful season back in the big time.
Those who listen to our podcast know that kits are a big deal for Longball Futebol. We’re yet to confirm this but Chaves looks like they might have the best kit in the league. Lacatoni has built on the almost iconic colour scheme by adding a beautifully detailed pattern. Interestingly there are similarities to how this masterpiece has been designed and how Chaves have got themselves back to the Primeira Liga.
They have built on a strong foundation of club heritage, a fervent fan base and added an exciting new manager who, with the president, has assembled a well-balanced squad with robust experience as well as individuals who can produce magic.
The president, Francisco Jose Carvalho, is well liked by the fans. He is seen to have looked after the team well, ensuring they are always promotion contenders despite them being in the second division for the past three years. There is a good scouting department at Chaves too. They have seen some top young talents come through and move on for decent money. In recent years Stephen Eustáquio was sold to Mexican side Cruz Azul, and centre-back Marcão (who has just signed for Sevilla) to Galatasary for over £3million each. This season they have sold young Brazilian central defender Alexsandro to Lille in France, who was picked up from Amora FC who play in the district leagues in Portugal.
Campelos finds his managerial feet at Chaves
We are very excited to see how manager Vitor Campelos fares in the top division. Apart from a 3-year stint as Vitória Guimarães B team manager, Campelos has only had two half seasons as a manager at Moreirense and Al-Taawoun in the Saudi pro league. It’s safe to say he has found his home at Chaves. Unbeaten in his first 10 games in charge that included a 5-game winning streak, the club went on to drop 8 points in their final 5 games and lost out to Arouca for the playoff place. Unfortunately this remarkable new manager bounce wouldn’t carry into the 21/22 season and Chaves found themselves 12th in the table after 12 games.
What came next suggests that Campelos’ early success was not just down to a fortunate new manager bounce, but showed us that he was capable of getting his team to put together sustained runs of form. Nine wins and a draw in their next 10 games would put them right back in contention for promotion where everyone had initially expected Chaves to be. A couple of big wins against the other promotion chasing teams in the Liga Sabseg and an incredible first leg win against Morierense in the relegation playoff put Chaves back in Portugal’s top division.
Midfield maestro Teixeira
Campelos likes to play a 4-2-3-1 formation with the defensive responsibility on the two defensive midfielders that allows the full backs, wingers and attacking midfielder Joao Teixeira to play with freedom. Coming through Benfica’s youth system but only making it to their B-team Joao Teixeira has played for both Vitória Setubal and Vitória Guimarães in the Primeira Liga and also for Chaves in their last season in the top division. All three of these campaigns were interrupted by injuries and he was never really able to make much of an impact.
To those who watch Teixeira for the first time you might think he looks like a lazy player, perhaps lacking motivation but don’t be mistaken. This midfield maestro bides his time and picks his moments to explode and produce a moment of magic. He’s already had a great start to this season getting his first goal against Marítimo and helping Chaves clock up their first win of the season.
Playing behind Teixeira are usually two midfield enforcers who very much do the dirty work so that other players can do the fancy stuff. Last year it was Obiora 31 and Nuno Coelho 34. Obiora, who has played in the Champions League for Inter Milan many moons ago, is your classic rough and ready, loves a tackle CDM. So far this season though, Campelos has preferred Kevin Pin and João Mendes, both much younger with Mendes being a slightly more positive player who will join the attack and has looked excellent in his first few games.
One to watch: Bruno Langa
On the left-hand side left back Bruno Langa is perhaps the most exciting young talent in this Chaves team. The 24-year-old Mozambican international provides a real threat going forward. He likes to explore spaces inside the pitch but can also hug the touchline and deliver a killer cross. On the other side, wearing No. 77 is João Correia, who caught my eye with his outstanding goal in the relegation play-off with Moreirense. Picking the ball up just inside the Moreirense half, playing a quick 1-2, cheeky nutmeg, slipping through the defence and then rifling it in at the near post, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Correia was their star winger and not their right back.
Last season’s top scorer with 13 goals and arguably Chaves’ best player Wellington Carvalho has moved to the Middle East but there is still quality on the wings with João Batxi who scored 7 goals and got 5 assists last season, earning him a call-up to the Angolan national team. Platiny was their top-scoring striker with 6 goals but at 31 it could be new signing and ex Atletico Madrid youth player Hector Hernandez who leads the line.
Chaves have looked to continue their blend of young talent and experience with their acquisitions so far in the transfer window. Young players on loan like left back Sandro Cruz from Benfica B and winger Jonny Arriba from Villarreal B will add depth to the squad. Young players from the lower tiers of Portugal such as centre-back Eduardo Borges and defensive midfielder Helder Morim could be future stars. But perhaps Chaves’ best business in the market has been the Primeira Liga experience they have brought in.
Steven Vitoria has arrived from Moreirense with Luis Rocha, another experienced centre-back moving the other way. Rocha played every game last season alongside Alexsandro but by replacing him with Vitoria they are gaining valuable experience. Another experienced CB coming in is Nelson Monte. The ex Rio Ave man had been playing in Ukraine and Chaves saw an opportunity to bring him back to Portugal.
In terms of their prospects for this year it is hard to predict. They’ve lost their top goalscorer (Carvalho) but have held on to arguably their best player (Teixeira). The club have made some smart, experienced additions to the defence which will hopefully improve them despite the loss of Alexsandro.
But ultimately I think Campelos will be the key factor in Chaves success this year. He has shown he can build momentum with this team and sustain it. But perhaps most importantly Campelos’ Chaves side can show up when it matters and with the Primeira Liga becoming more and more competitive and congested between the teams outside of Braga and the big three, being able to get the three points in must-win games will be key and Chaves might just have what it takes.
By Barney Carter-Phillips