Twelve rounds of the season remain after Liga Bwin’s latest batch of matches with the title race taking a significant step with Benfica extending their advantage at the top to eight points, beating Vizela while Porto slipped to a shock 2-1 home defeat to Gil Vicente.
Braga also lost ground on the Eagles, tasting defeat in a typically hotly-contested Minho derby to local rivals Vitória Guimarães.
It is a former Braga player that is in focus as our PortuGOAL Figure of the Week as Francisco Trincão finally showed what he is capable of after a previously stuttering season with Sporting. His stunning solo goal lit up the Lions’ 2-0 over struggling Estoril.
A wonderfully talented winger, 23 year old Francisco Trincão developed in Braga’s youth team before making the transition to their senior team, flourishing in Primeira Liga for As Arsenalistas to earn a big money move to Barcelona in the summer of 2020, the Catalans forking out a reported €31,000,000 for his services.
The only concerns attached to such a move was perhaps it was a case of too big too soon for the Portuguese, and to an extent so it proved as Trincão was a peripheral figure at Camp Nou, facing strong competition in the attacking areas at the time from established stars such as Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann.
A loan move away seemed inevitable and so it occurred the following season. On paper, his temporary deal to join the Portuguese project at Wolves in the Premier League felt like it couldn’t fail, yet Trincão again failed to gain regular traction in the starting XI, and was only able to display glimpses of his immense talent.
And so to this season where a further loan has seen him back home in Portugal, just a little further south as he linked up with Rubén Amorim at Sporting, a manager who helped cultivate his development back at Braga. Still perhaps feeling the hangover of two seasons in flux in different leagues, there has been a familiar theme to Trincão’s campaign in the sense that we are not seeing what he is truly capable of on a regular enough basis.
It is particularly of late that the winger has struggled, even being taken out of the lineup on a few occasions by Amorim having largely been an ever-present previously. Some niggling fitness issues have not helped either, but his restoration to the team for Monday evening’s home contest with Estoril could well prove the catalyst to a reversal in the player’s fortunes as Trincão came alive in an eye-catching second half performance.
Stationed on the left flank, arguably Trincão’s weaker side, it was a quiet first period as his lack of confidence appeared a factor upon his failure to impact the match. He was outshone by his team-mate on the opposite wing Marcus Edwards, who was coming closest to opening the scoring in a one-sided half in the hosts’ favour.
It was new signing Héctor Bellerín that would be the unlikely source to break Estoril’s resistance before the whistle, but just after the break Trincão stepped in to not only seal the victory but also finally truly show the Estádio José Alvalade crowd what he can bring to the party.
Not too much looked on for Trincão after he received a pass from Nuno Santos on the left, but the former Braga man embarked in-field on a slaloming solo run to evade the challenges of three or four Estoril defenders before finishing emphatically past goalkeeper Dani Figueira to make it 2-0.
⚽ GOLO— VSPORTS (@vsports_pt) February 27, 2023
Liga Portugal bwin (#22) | Sporting 2-0 Estoril Praia#LigaPortugalbwin #SCPGDEP https://t.co/ocpdn6zvr3 pic.twitter.com/7YoOLgLLdb
A stunning individual effort that will be in the mix for goal of the season considerations, and one that provided an immediate and obvious fillip to Trincão’s on-pitch morale. Around ten minutes later he threatened to double his tally, again receiving a Santos pass before striking left-footed towards goal, Figueira equal to the shot on this occasion.
More magic feet from Trincão in the 68th minute saw Sporting come close to extending their lead. The winger nutmegged his marker before another individual run that had the Estoril defenders back-tracking in fear, but Figueira parried the eventual finish.
In the final minute of the match Trincão almost added an assist to top off his night, crossing in from the left flank to find substitute Youssef Chermiti, but the young forward could only spin and shoot straight at Figueira. Nonetheless, as the final whistle blew it felt a watershed moment in Trincão’s season. All involved with the Portugal wideman will be hoping that this was the turning point towards reaching his potential.
☑ RESUMO— VSPORTS (@vsports_pt) February 27, 2023
Liga Portugal bwin (#22) | Sporting 2-0 Estoril Praia#LigaPortugalbwin #SCPGDEP https://t.co/ocpdn6zvr3 pic.twitter.com/duKz2hejxE
Rumours suggest Trincão’s time as a Barcelona player will officially come to an end this summer with reports that he could turn his temporary deal in Lisbon into a permanent one. After a slow start this could yet prove the ideal environment for this prodigious talent to remind audiences of just how good he can be.
By Jamie Farr