Porto set early pace as rivals struggle

In a second round of fixtures with very few goals – an embarrassing total of 10 – there were a few interesting results.

Benfica went to Nacional to redeem themselves after their shocking home collapse in the opening round, but left Madeira with another 2-1 defeat.

The Eagles now have the same number of losses they had last season. Roberto was once again one the culprits as stated in my previous post, but credit should not be taken from the resilient Islanders.

Nacional played very positively with a rather dynamic midfield trio. Luiz Alberto looked like Yaya Touré bossing the engine room, while Rene Mihelic and Diego Barcellos provided the creative spark behind their attacking threat.

Despite Benfica never really being in control of the match, the first half was a fairly evenly matched contest. After the break though, Nacional improved and scored through Luiz Alberto and Orlando Sá. Carlos Martins would score a late consolation goal for the visitors, but it was too late to salvage a draw.

Porto continue to quietly flex their muscles in the early stages of the championship. They entertained recently promoted Beira-Mar at home and strolled to an easy 3-0 victory.

Colombian predator Radamel Falcao netted a brace to move top of the League goalscoring charts, with Argentinean playmaker Fernando Belluschi scoring the other goal from a stunning free-kick.

Falcao moved top of the goalscoring charts

Without even pushing too hard, the Dragons ooze confidence and have already seen their three title rivals drop points. A dream start for young André Villas-Boas who could barely be in a better position to manage his players.

Sporting were made to sweat by Marítimo before clinching their first three points of the season. The Lions – who were exposed at home in the Europa League match against Danish side Brondby – wanted to change their fortunes in front of their own supporters and Paulo Sergio switch to a 4-3-3 formation with a midfield trio of Maniche, André Santos and Spaniard Zapater.

Upfront, Sérgio decided to field quicksilver Djaló and flamboyant Vukcevic alongside Liédson, but the first half the match was even with opportunities for both teams.The Lions seemed more determined to win after the break, but they would only claim their victory in the 89th minute when Liédson was tripped in the box. Chilean playmaker Matias Fernández made no mistake and gave the team an invaluable morale-boosting result.

The match was marred though by an incident involving Joao Pereira. The Sporting right-back sustained a skull fracture after accidently clashing with teammate Rui Patricio. He was rushed to the hospital shortly after, but Sporting doctors already said he’s recovering well.

Goal of the round

Fernando Belluschi struck an amazing free-kick that gave Beira-Mar keeper no chance and virtually killed off the match. The former Olympiacos midfielder has grown since last year and looks a more comfortable player on the pitch. He had scored a good goal against Genk and will be please to be on the scoresheet once again.

Talking points

On the 1st of August, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus said that it would be very difficult to stop this Benfica side. Three weeks later and that bold prophecy was confirmed in a way; the only thing he didn’t expect was that it would actually be very difficult to stop them losing.

Benfica are currently struggling and Roberto is the laughing stock of Portuguese football, but it is Rui Costa and Jorge Jesus who have every reason to feel responsible. They failed to do their homework in the summer and are now left with one week to do the one thing they were neglected to do over the past three months: sign the right players for a reasonable price.

With the dream of reaching the group stages of the Champions League so near, Braga decided to make a few changes in the starting XI – resting Alan, Paulo César, Rodríguez and Vandinho – and were unlucky not to get away with more than a goalless draw. Even though they went to Setúbal to win, their minds were a little further south - in Sevilla, to be accurate.

The match against the Spanish side will be one of, if not the most important match of their history and everyone will give the proverbial 110% to achieve what could very well be one of European football’s biggest giant killings in recent history.

Now that Sevilla have sold Frenchman Sebastien Squillaci to Arsenal, it may be a good time to use the pace of attacking trio Matheus, Alan and Paulo César to wreak havoc in their backline.

It will be a very entertaining match and one every football lover should tune in.

Good luck for the Arsenalistas and may their dream run continue!

ROUND 2 RESULTS Fri Aug 20 Académica 1-1 Olhanense Sat Aug 21 Nacional 2-1 Benfica, Vitória Setúbal 0-0 Braga Sun Aug 22: Porto 3-0 Beira-Mar, Leiria 0-0 Paços Ferreira, Sporting 1-0 Marítimo, Portimonense 0-1 Naval Mon Aug 23 Vitória Guimarães 0-0 Rio Ave.

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