We’re really getting down to the sharp end of the 2017/18 Liga NOS season now and Week 30 saw a clash of the titans, Porto returning to the top of the table in stunning fashion away at defending champions Benfica thanks to Héctor Herrera’s superb late goal.

The skipper rightly claimed most of the plaudits in the Clássico victory but one player who played just as important a role has been perhaps Porto’s most consistent player throughout the campaign: Ricardo Pereira.

The right-back has barely put a foot wrong in 2017/18, was effective in defence and effervescent in attack in Sunday’s crunch match, staking a real claim to join Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad in Russia this summer. Ricardo is PortuGOAL’s Figure of the Week.

Ricardo had the unenviable task of facing the in-form left-sided Benfica duo of Álex Grimaldo and Franco Cervi but it proved to be a job he was more than up for, rightly earning high praise for an excellent, rounded display.

This was a match that very much felt like a must-win for Porto if they are to end their drought for a league title and one of their most dependable players proved his worth again.

Ricardo was near faultless defensively as well as being a constant outlet in attack. In the 44th minute he even almost got himself a goal, his left-footed effort ultimately deflecting wide off team-mate Moussa Marega.

Moments later he should have had an assist to his name, a great cutback finding Marega but the Malian striker could only fire wide.

Three minutes into the second half the pair combined again, more brilliant play from Ricardo to find Marega with a subtle through ball but Benfica goalkeeper Bruno Varela was able to smother the chance away after the striker’s heavy first touch.

What stood out about Ricardo’s performance was something symptomatic of his strengths as a player: his ability to both attack and defend. This versatility has been vital to Porto at times this season, particularly in recent weeks with the other players capable of playing as a right winger, Marega, Jesús Corona, Otávio and Hernani, all either struggling for fitness or form for much of the campaign.

Ricardo’s statistics from the match don’t lie and reflected his dominance of the flank. He created two good chances as can be seen above, completed 5 of 6 attempted dribbles, but never neglecting his defensive duties either, successfully completing 13 defensive actions and recovering possession 7 times.

Ricardo finds himself having to battle with several very talented right-backs that Portugal have chosen from in the past couple of years. Nélson Semedo, João Cancelo and André Almeida are just some of the players he is up against, while Cédric Soares would seemingly still be at the front of the queue with his Euro 2016 performances in the bank, although he hasn’t enjoyed the strongest season domestically with Southampton, so the role is up for grabs it would seem.

If Ricardo can finish the campaign with the Liga NOS title in his pocket along with a continuation of his consistent displays, then surely at least a place on the plane beckons for Porto’s number 21.

By Jamie Farr

 

Comments (11)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Cedric has looked really poor from the Southampton matches I have seen, at least compared to his form a couple years ago. I'm not sure I even take him to Russia. I would rate our RBs Ricardo then Semedo then Cancelo right now.

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Ricardo and nelson semedo!

He can also play on the left flank if guerreiro gets hurt. That alone should make him included.

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Club form, the season success, adaptability to the team and formations/tactics are so important when picking players for a national team apart from talent amd along with the level of competition the players are up against.

Santos plays a pretty...

Club form, the season success, adaptability to the team and formations/tactics are so important when picking players for a national team apart from talent amd along with the level of competition the players are up against.

Santos plays a pretty standard 442 with some variations into a 433.

We have a number of players who i think will be on the plae who have had very good and good seasons with their clubs versus others who have a torrid time this year.

I have watched goncalo guedes and bruma alot this season and they both for me make the plane and apart from their talent..both play on the left attacking flank in similiar 442 to that of Santos which means their duties and cohesion is more seamless than players like j.mario who do not suit that role. Guedes owned barcelona and just about every other right back in la liga this year and is my automatic starter on the left..tell him....just do what u do with valencia....golden. Bruma the same at rb. Leipzig....wide left in a 442 attack. They are my left sided players.

As far as rigt backs...ricardo gets a spot and not only because of his season but he also is quite good on the left as well and should we have injury problems....that versatility should get him a spot....n. semedo is my other choice....cancelo is unlucky and cedric has had one shitty season.

Also, i have been watching ruben vezo at 4th placed valencia in la liga and he has been very good in central defence with Garay and even plays at right back when they play barcelona amd did very well against their attack.


My squad list barrin injuries:

Gk: rui patricio, b. Varela, anthony lopes
Central Defence: Pepe, Ruben Dias, Ruben Vezo, Neto
Right backs : ricardo pereira, n. Semedo
Left back: r. Guerreiro, fabio coentrao (if injuries then mario rui)

Central midfield: william, b. Fernandes, m. Fernandes, j. Moutinho, j. Mario

Attacking mid/wide: ricardo quaresma, b. Silva, g. Martins, goncalo guedes, bruma

Strikers: ronaldo, a. Silva

Thats 23 players. Santos 442 formation.

Keep in mind Danilo is injured, a. Gomes and cedric have had horrried seasons, r..neves, r. Lopes are yound and will make the next set up for euro2020 if they keep it up and u do need some senior players in squad. Also, A. Silva isnt playing regularly for leicester amd doesnt warrant a call up. Fonte amd Alves are way past prime amd too slow for what is looking like teams or going younger with lots of pace on all teams.

J. Mario gets that last mid spot because of his versatility to play anywhere in attack and partner in the mid...watched him for west ham...rarely ever gives the ball away even when their high pressing by othe team in the very fast epl...a handy tool when we need to keep the ball in matches.

J. Moutinho i included for experience because he didnt play much in euro 2016 as he lost his place to renato sanches but with danilo gone i think he might come in handy...had renato sanches been where we thought he would be this year...moutinho would be out...i like m. Fernandes better if we need a goal.

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No way Ricardo Perreira goes to Russia! He fouled Zivkovic in the box and no penalty was called!!!!!

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LOL!

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I don't care who goes as long as Cancelo DOES NOT! Worst back I have seen in a very long time. No brain, cant defend. He is a below average winger playing as a full back. RUA!!!

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Have to agree Val. He is like van der Wiel, who coincidentally now plays for Toronto FC as a RB. Great going forward but then just stays up there and forgets the "back" part of his job description. He reminds me of Eliseu but without the canon...

Have to agree Val. He is like van der Wiel, who coincidentally now plays for Toronto FC as a RB. Great going forward but then just stays up there and forgets the "back" part of his job description. He reminds me of Eliseu but without the canon of a left foot.

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Eliseu was unjustly treated. I defended him before and will again and I am not a benfiquista.

I don’t think Eliseu was/is Selecao material but I had no issues with him (outside of his awful game vs Serbia) playing for Portugal. He always gave it...

Eliseu was unjustly treated. I defended him before and will again and I am not a benfiquista.

I don’t think Eliseu was/is Selecao material but I had no issues with him (outside of his awful game vs Serbia) playing for Portugal. He always gave it 100% and yes he wasn’t the best defensively but he made up for it with his strength and tenacity. Yes he has a cannon as well. I think Eliseu was just overwhelmed with playing at that level. It takes a while to get comfortable (Rui Patricio?) and Eliseu was just starting to get there when he was replaced. Rafael G is on another level when healthy, no one can fill his shoes. Fabio C always played well for the selecao, hope he gets another shot his problem is his attitude stinks.

Cancelo goes out there and throws around reckless challenges, is never in position (abandons his team mates to get forward). He has a very low football IQ and I have NO clue how he has made it to Valencia and now to Inter. Baffling player who really shouldn’t be a back. He should be a winger.

Nelson Semedo has had some howler games for Barca. He was worst player vs Roma and had another bad game vs Celta Vigo. He is fantastic going forward but lacks all defensive abilities of both Cedric and Pereira, he simply doesn’t track players runs or anticipate well. Also I think we should separate a player having a bad season and the team having a bad season. Is there anyone on Southampton playing well? They stink.

Portugal will go into the WC with a lot of questions for the central defenders (outside of Pepe) so we need more defensive backs to compensate (or backs that play sound defense) and William C will have to do a lot of work.

I would like to see Pereira get a shot to impress and Cedric if he doesn’t. Just my thoughts.

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Joao Cancelo's maxed out his opportunities to play for Portugal as far as I'm concerned. He's by far the worst of the 4 options frequently bandied about. I was one of those people constantly criticizing Eliseu on here - and, I believe, for damn...

Joao Cancelo's maxed out his opportunities to play for Portugal as far as I'm concerned. He's by far the worst of the 4 options frequently bandied about. I was one of those people constantly criticizing Eliseu on here - and, I believe, for damn good reasons - but, as much as I hated Eliseu at times, he at least had the sense not to dive into reckless challenges multiple times a game, and he did in fact realize that he was a DEFENDER. When Cancelo's played for Portugal against any opponent that poses an offensive threat, he hasn't just been bad, he's been comically calamitous. I too don't want to see him anywhere near our squad unless it's as a winger. And even then there are obviously far better options.

Ricardo Pereira is, without question, our best FB option. He provides the best balance between attack and defence and that exactly what you need in a FB these days. Add to that his stamina and versatility to play in multiple positions and I don't even know why this is still a debate. He needs to go to Russia.

I've heard rumours that Raphael Guerreiro will be out for the World Cup but I don't know how true that is. I'm hoping, like all of you, that it's not and he's healthy. I believe a Portugal with Raphael on the left and Ricardo on the right would be incredibly dangerous and downright lethal.

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Agree George.

Eliseu was an option that many of us recognized (and for good reason) as the weakest of the starting 11 BUT he always showed up and did 100% in the best interest of his team.

Rafael G is irreplaceable. Hoping for the best for...

Agree George.

Eliseu was an option that many of us recognized (and for good reason) as the weakest of the starting 11 BUT he always showed up and did 100% in the best interest of his team.

Rafael G is irreplaceable. Hoping for the best for him as well.

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Of course he makes it....no doubt.....Id be surprised if he doesnt start.
I would bring Ricardo, Semedo & Cedric. Would only bring Raphael Guerreiro at LB.
Id start Ricardo at RB, but shift him to LB if needed to cover for Guerreiro, then bring...

Of course he makes it....no doubt.....Id be surprised if he doesnt start.
I would bring Ricardo, Semedo & Cedric. Would only bring Raphael Guerreiro at LB.
Id start Ricardo at RB, but shift him to LB if needed to cover for Guerreiro, then bring on one of semedo or cedric.
Joao Cancelo doesn't make the cut this time.
Johnieoooo

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