Friday, April 03, 2020
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If the Portuguese League was anything this week, it was a packet of Hula Hoops. Why? Because it was packed full of Os, with all of the big boys drawing 0-0.


Sporting 0 – 0 Académica

Sporting came to the table first this weekend, hosting mid-table Académica. This was a game they really should have won, and they probably would have if it hadn’t been for the inability of Helder Postiga to do his job.


But then this is nothing new for Helder. In his first spell at Porto he scored a semi-respectable 22 in 58 games, yet since then it has taken him another 112 games over five years to amass 22 more.


Clearly, this man is not going to get you goals. He’s perfectly happy to flounce about looking like the lead singer from Muse for 75 minutes, get a yellow card and then get subbed, but he won’t get you goals.


Well, he did sort of score on Saturday as he got the ball in the net, but the fact that he practically caught the ball before doing so led the ref to disallow it and book him.


Sporting totally ran the game, controlling the ball for large spells and never really looking like conceding. However, they also never looked like scoring, wasting chance after chance and barely even managing to hit the target most of the time.


There’s little more to say about this game other than that Sporting have arguably the Liga Sagres’ best midfielder in the shape of Izmailov. The Russian possesses Zidane-esque movement, an ability to score ( and an often breathtaking range of passes. It’s just a pity that he’s got no-one decent to pass to.


Sporting really need to get themselves a new striker asap, with Postiga up to his usual tricks and Liedson being about as consistent as your grandmother’s rice pudding. Otherwise they can expect to be crushed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.


Porto 0 – 0 Marítimo

Porto had the chance to go top on Sunday following their 4-2 pulverisation of Amadora in the week.


Yet despite having 67% of the possession against mid-table Marítimo they failed to put them to bed. Jesualdo Ferreira fielded his usual 4-3-3, while his opposite number Lori Sandri packed the midfield in what proved a successful attempt to soak up the fluid Porto game.


For all their lack possession Maritimo did manage to hit the bar twice, once through a powerful Joao Guilherme free kick ( and once through a Marcinho header.Porto only really started to turn up the pressure in the final 20 minutes when Hulk turned all green, ripped his shirt off and started smashing through groups of two and three players at a time.


Christian Rodriguez went on to have a firm header brilliantly saved, before Lisandro booted a ball straight out of the path of the advancing Fucile and into the crowd, much to his teammates’ and manager’s frustration.


Benfica 0 – 0 Nacional

Benfica concluded the weekend’s action with the toughest fixture for the top teams as fifth-placed Nacional came to town.


Fresh from their pitiful showing in the UEFA Cup (one point from four games) the Eagles continued in the same vein last night. The highlight of the first half was an advertising hoarding promoting petrol for six cents a litre, and while the second half provided some entertainment it was still a dreadful match.


This morning’s Record, Portugal’s Sports paper, awarded the Benfica team an average of 2.5 out of 10, a generous score considering the way Amorim blazed their only real chance of the game over the bar from eight yards.


Fifth place Nacional look a decent outfit, and with Brazilian Nené up front they have a source of goals. The 25-year-old already has seven this season and he could have had at least a couple more against Benfica if his strike partner had any idea how to play football.


Mateus somehow lasted 81 minutes before being roped off by Nacional manager Manuel Machado. He should have been banished much earlier by the ref for his only real contribution to the game, a kung fu kick on Benfica right back Maxi Pereira.


The rest

The Liga Sagres’ other notable game this week was a five goal thriller between the league’s bottom two, Belenenses and Trofense.


Trofense took a two-goal lead in the first half before Marcelo volleyed home the goal of the weekend on 57 minutes (scroll to 1m 10s at this link to trigger a three-goal comeback by Belenenses.


The result saw Belenenses leapfrog Trofense, who now sit bottom of the pile with eight points.


Leixões proved they can keep up with the big boys by also drawing. They at least managed a goal to their name though as they failed to add significantly to Amadora’s ever-burgeoning goals against tally.


Meanwhile Braga beat relegation candidates Rio Ave 1-0 to keep in touch with the top sides, and Pacos Ferreira used their vomit-inducing yellow shirts to blind Vitoria Setúbal and pick up a 2-0 win in the process.


And in the week’s most boring fixture Naval and Guimarães added to the packet of Hula Hoops by drawing 0-0.  

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