After a packed midweek of action across Europe, one of the more notable results for the Portuguese Abroad contingent was Everton’s impressive 3-0 win over Cardiff in the English Premier League. For coach Marco Silva, the victory relieves some pressure after recent poor form and the former Sporting man says he hopes the performance bodes well for Sunday’s Merseyside derby with Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Vítor Pereira has been speaking to the media ahead of the start of the Chinese CSL season on Friday, while Nuno Espírito Santo issues a warning after Wolves’ surprise loss to Huddersfield and Olympiakos boss Pedro Martins reflects on a surprise elimination in the Greek Cup.
Silva hoping win will prove turning point
Silva’s Everton came into Tuesday night’s trip to Cardiff having not played in over two weeks, with the break in the fixture list offering little cause for relaxation for the Toffees manager after growing scrutiny of the side. Everton went into their off-period on the back of three straight defeats, contributing to a spell in which the team won just four out of 16 matches.
The poor run of form piled the pressure onto Everton ahead of the match in Wales, but Silva’s side responded with a comfortable 3-0 victory. Two goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and a third from Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave all three points to the visitors, who were commanding against the relegation battlers.
“I am delighted with the result and again with the players’ attitude, which is something that has never changed,” Silva told reporters. “It is an important win and credit to our players.
“You can prepare everything well but results are the most important thing in football and when you win, it boosts your confidence and the players can perform at their normal level.
"We hope the win can be a turning point, we have missed consistency until now. I want to be more consistent, Some of our players performed better than in the past few games but it is just three points.”
Silva, who dropped André Gomes to the bench for the match with Cardiff, is well aware that for the Everton supporters, Sunday’s match at home against Liverpool is the most important game of the season. Silva’s men were beaten 1-0 by a 96th-minute goal when the sides met at Anfield in December, with the return at Goodison Park coming as Everton have just one win from their last seven home matches.
“We are working to give our fans a good feeling again on Sunday,” Silva said. “I know it is a special match for them and we hope we can give them a good result and good feeling.
“It was important we won this game to give us the confidence we need as a team. Sunday will be at home with our fans, we expect a fantastic atmosphere to push us to achieve the result we want.”
“[Confidence] is something we are missing, to [help us] be more consistent as a team and not go up and down every time. I hope the Cardiff result can give us the boost we need and everything we want is to achieve a good result again on Sunday.”
Nuno: “This cannot happen again”
Less positive about his team this midweek was Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espírito Santo, after watching their 1-0 defeat away to bottom-place Huddersfield on Wednesday. Nuno selected Rui Patrício, João Moutinho, Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota for the match, going with a full-strength side in a match many expected the visitors to win.
“We are very cautious that what happened today cannot happen again, we have to improve,” said the former Porto boss. “There are many reasons and our job is to look for solutions for the next one.
“Consistency in football is very difficult. We have to try to the end. We came from a good run, today was not the best performance that we can have, but we have to bounce back Saturday.
“Every day is a challenge and a chance to improve. This is our spirit and our identity, tomorrow we recover and prepare for the next game. Competing well is the most important thing and we have to react. Nothing changes, we have a tough game at Molineux now.”
Pereira’s Shanghai prepare for CSL opener
Vítor Pereira and Shanghai SIPG won the Chinese Super Cup last week and begin the defence of their CSL title with an away match against city rivals Shanghai Shenhua on Friday. Pereira’s men beat Beijing Guoan 2-0 last week to lift the Super Cup and will be expected to compete in both the league and the Asian Champions League, which sees the start of the group stage next week.
"I believe that with hard work, team spirit and humility, and if you work as a team, as a family, we can achieve our goals and win more titles," Pereira said on Wednesday.
"The secret is to keep focused and together, and to help each other. We have a lot of big challenges, starting this week."
Pereira’s skill as a manager will be tested by his ability to cope without star striker Wu Lei, who was sold to Spanish side Espanyol during the European January transfer window after 27 goals from 29 games last season. The Portuguese coach will be hoping to be able to rely on former Porto man Hulk, now 32, who will be starting his third full season with the club.
Shanghai SIPG reached the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League in 2017 under André Villa-Boas, and begin their attempt to conquer the continent next week with a home match against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale. Joining the pair in Group H are Australia’s Sydney FC and Ulsan of South Korea.
Pedro Martins’ Olympiakos eliminated from Greek Cup
Olympiakos’ best chance of silverware this season slipped away on Thursday night after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Lamia in the Greek Cup quarter finals, resulting in a 4-3 aggregate defeat and surprise elimination.
For Olympiakos’ Portuguese coach Pedro Martins, it was a frustrating result after seeing his side hammer OFI 5-1 in the league on Monday night to move 7 points behind leaders PAOK. After that game the former Vitória Guimarães boss encouraged focus on the future and refused to get carried away with the win, but his team disappointed in front of goal at home to Lamia.
"Today we were not good in the first half, we did not show the intention to win and we had no passion,” Martins told the media in typically blunt terms. “We did not play with intensity. In the second half, however, especially since we accepted the goal, we clearly showed our intention. We created many opportunities. We conceded a goal from the only opportunity created by Lamia.
“We did everything. Players have clearly and earnestly shown their intention to win. They played with all their might, with all their soul but unfortunately, we did not win. Of course we are disappointed, but we cannot blame the players. They showed with all their passion that they wanted to win. Unfortunately, they did not succeed. I want to congratulate Lamia.
“We are disappointed because our goal was to get to the final. It was not in our minds in any way to stop at this stage of the competition. Unfortunately this is the situation at the moment.
"The numbers speak for themselves. Efficiency is what we lack. This is a problem we have been experiencing since the beginning of the year. It has cost us too many wins and qualifiers. This is clear. We cannot say anything. The numbers you saw clearly show that we miss what I said. "
Caixinha rallies against “fake news” in Mexico
The most unique story of the week came on Monday when Cruz Azul’s Portuguese coach Pedro Caixinha produced a graph to demonstrate the inaccuracies of reporting in Mexico. The well-travelled coach is coming under pressure in the country with his side currently on a run of six matches without a victory.
Caixinha arrived at his press conference armed with evidence that Mexico is one of the leading countries for “fake news” stories according to a survey. “First is Turkey, with 49%, and then comes Mexico, with 43%,” he pointed out. “If I already did not watch news, much less so now. That is the reality in which we live. A reality in which I do not want to enter, because I do not like to speak rumours.
"I value my work very much. Much more in a large team like this. It does not concern me if they speak well or badly about me. The 21 years without title [for Cruz Azul] can weigh on some more than others; it does not weigh on me. The work is what is going to take us there.
"I love working in this country - but false stories get into people's minds. Mexico is the second worst country for fake news, not just in sport but in general.
"I'm under contract until 2020. When I'm told someone is coming in to replace me I will sit down to talk with the club, but for now I'll say nothing.”
By Sean Gillen