After a highly successful international break for the Seleção, the thoughts of Portuguese players and coaches return to domestic matters this weekend, and there are several important matches for the contingent across the world.
For Vítor Pereira, there will be an agonising watch from the stands as his Shanghai SIPG side look to make strides towards the Chinese championship, with the former Porto coach beginning a three-match suspension. Meanwhile, Sevilla’s Daniel Carriço prepares to lead his side at Camp Nou against Barcelona and Marco Silva anticipates André Gomes making an impact with Everton.
The Chinese Football Association announced on Thursday that Pereira was being issued a three-match suspension for ‘unsporting behaviour’ following his Shanghai SIPG team’s 5-0 victory over Guizhou Zicheng last month. Pereira’s ban will commence immediately, and he will not be allowed on the touchline for this weekend’s match with Jiangsu Suning.
Perhaps of greater consequence will be the 50-year-old’s absence in what could prove a title decider with current champions and Asian giants Guangzhou Evergrande, who have won the last seven titles, on November 3rd. Pereira, who replaced André Villas-Boas ahead of the current campaign, is hoping to win the first CSL title in Shanghai’s history, with an advantage of four points over Guangzhou and just five matches remaining.
Sevilla set for Barça test
The big match in Spain this weekend sees table-topping Sevilla head to Camp Nou to play champions Barcelona. The Andalusian side, who have been inspired by the form of Portuguese forward André Silva, hold a one-point advantage at the top of La Liga, and defender Daniel Carriço was in confident mood when assessing the match on Thursday.
“We have a very difficult match on Saturday against one of the best teams in the world,” said the former Sporting stopper. “But we'll go into the game with lots of confidence and in good form with the intention of getting a good result there. We hope to continue being the solid block as we have been in recent games with confidence and we'll definitely have a chance.
“We've already beaten Madrid at home and we know that we can make a big impact at the top of the table this Saturday. They are the favourites at home and in front of their own fans. Even so, there's still a lot of the league left to continue improving and to continue growing with the ideas that the manager has and in the playing style that we are practising.
“André Silva? 'I'm very happy for him because he's adapted very well and has been a revelation and I hope that he can continue helping the team like this.”
At the other end of the Liga table, Getafe look set for another tough battle against the drop, but experienced defender Vitorino Antunes has urged calm. “The league has just started so we aren’t down with a rope around our necks,” said the Portugal international. “There’s no nerves or pressure. We are a close-knit group. When we won at Sevilla everyone said we were the best. Last season we started like this and did well. We have to be calm and work.”
Gomes “strong in the mind” – Silva
Switching to England, the big game of the weekend sees José Mourinho take his Manchester United to Stamford Bridge to meet Chelsea on Saturday afternoon, in what appears another huge match for the Portuguese boss, while Marco Silva and Nuno Espírito Santo will be looking to build on winning form at Everton and Wolves respectively.
Silva has been speaking ahead of his Everton side hosting Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon, and Portugal midfielder André Gomes has been a topic of conversation as the former Benfica man nears his Toffees debut following hamstring problems.
“He is strong in his mind and I am sure he will help our squad like we need," the former Sporting coach said of Barcelona loan signing Gomes, who safely came through a practise match last week. "We are happy with our midfielders, of course, but he can give different things for us.
"He is working with confidence and training with confidence. I know his qualities very well and he can give us very good things. We need to have patience with him because we needed to get him into a good physical condition. He is working to achieve that and now it is games he needs.”
For Wolves, this weekend brings a home match with Watford and a chance for Nuno Espírito Santo’s men to continue their excellent start to the Premier League season following promotion last year. The West Midlands club, who currently sit 7th in the table, have drawn praise for their unity and tactical coherence, which many have put down to the manager’s decision to start the same eleven in every match so far.”
“Nuno likes us to be perfect,” said Wolves midfielder Rúben Neves. “He’s always trying to improve for the next game. He wants us to improve our football and our shape every time. We don’t stop our work. Even if we win, even if we play very well, he wants us to improve and play even better.
“We have a very good squad, and anyone can play. Everybody must work a lot and then it is up to the manger to decide who plays. We always work the same way.
“We don’t think about the plaudits. We don’t care what the people are saying. We are focused on our work and we will continue playing as we have been playing until now. The most important thing is taking it game by game and seeing what will happen.”
Fernandes defends Eder
It promises to be another eventful weekend for Portugal’s foreign-based contingent. One man who will not be involved, however, is Euro 2016 hero Eder, with the striker due to sit out Lokomotiv Moscow’s match with Rostov in Russia on Friday evening, after a red card during his team’s previous match at CSKA Moscow.
The former Braga forward, fresh from his goal for the Seleção against Scotland, may take some comfort from support from club teammate Manuel Fernandes, who defended his colleague. “Apparently it was a dangerous challenge, but all he did was raise his leg and (Rodrigo) Becão headed his foot. I don’t think it warranted a second yellow card.
“Becão broke the rules ten times, so the referee acted inconsistently. He threatened to send me off later. I just want the referee to apply the same criteria to everyone. It’s a pity that in a match between two good teams the referee was not at the appropriate level. It bothers everyone.”
Nevertheless Eder, like Vitor Pereira, will have to take a back seat for this weekend’s action.
By Sean Gillen