Time to get competitive action underway in season two. This post will take you through August up to the end of November, plenty of match action for you to sink your teeth into.
It’s good to start the season with three points. It would have been even better if those three points weren’t from four matches.
It’s the second time in two seasons we’ve failed to beat a newly promoted side at home on matchday one. We stumbled to a draw against Gil Vicente with substitute Giorgi Arabidze’s debut goal levelling the score late on. We created plenty of chances and dominated the ball. It should’ve been a win.
After we’d taken all three points in the last league encounter last season, Sérgio Conceição was intent on showing us what his reigning Primeira Liga champions were really capable of when we squared up on matchday two. That’s what they did. Despite us having 56% possession in the Dragao, Porto took us apart and taught us a lesson in ruthlessness. All four Brahimi, Corona, Herrera and Layún goals were preventable when watching them back, but they were a class above for the entire match.
Without context it looks as though Teodoro Paredes’ 93rd minute goal was us grabbing another late equaliser, but that was us going 2-1 ahead. Portimonense went right up the pitch and equalised with the last kick of the match. Sickening, especially so late, and especially after we’d gone 2-1 ahead after being 1-0 down. Neither team deserved to win a drab match against Nacional. In a worrying trend, we had to fight back from being behind again. The only positive was Luiz Phellype bagging his first in Vitória colours.
Deadline day was pleasingly quiet. Benfica did put in a derisory bid for Sigurd Grønli which was swiftly rejected. It’s not like they’d brought in £143m from selling players this summer or anything. Our incoming business was done much earlier on in the window this summer compared to last.
Maritimo, and LigaPro sides, Farense and Academica make up our Taca da Liga 3rd Phase Group this season and we got off to the worst possible start. We were 2-1 up at half time when I told the players not to get complacent, what happened next? Maritimo scored three second half goals to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the Semi Final. We’ll have to beat both second tier sides and hope they take something off Maritimo for the slimmest of chances to match how we did last season.
Our winless start to the season ends in our first Europa League group stage match against PAOK. In the soaring Greek heat, we managed to come away with a great 3-1 win. Fernando Cardozo has worked his way into my plans, the young Paraguayan has shown much more up top so far this season than Welthon and Luiz Phellype had, despite the latter grabbing his second goal of the season in this one. PSV and FC Midtjylland make up the rest of Group I and will provide tough competition.
Six points from consecutive wins over Aves and Belenenses saw us soar up the table from 15th to 7th. It is a worry when you see yourself that low down and start to see other clubs picking up wins and points, even so early on in the season. I was hoping the winning run would continue in the Clássico Vitoriano and looking at the stats, we should have shaded this one. André André scored his third goal of the month, a rebound from a missed penalty, to equalise in the first half. Setúbal kept us out though and got the win with two goals in the second half. A really poor result.
The reaction to the Setúbal defeat was positive.
We outplayed PSV at home, but found ourselves 1-0 down to their only shot on target going into the last few minutes of the match. André André was unmarked in their penalty area and slammed home a loose ball for his third goal in three matches. We certainly didn’t deserve to lose, but really should have won.
Another match we should have won but somehow didn’t was our first of the season against the might of Benfica. Despite having sold all that talent in the summer they remain strong and kept their unbeaten run going by the skin of their teeth in a heartbreaking smash and grab.
We were fortuitously leading the match until the 93rd minute through another André André penalty, his hot streak continuing. A corner broke to Pizzi on the edge of the penalty area and he fired it through a sea of bodies to equalise. That goal led to more time being played over and above the five minutes added time. Benfica’s Rafa then injured himself in the 97th minute, leading to more time being added. Guillermo Celis’ tackle on Salvio saw the ball break behind our defence, Haris Seferovic got there before Jori to fire home their winner in the 99th minute of the match. Football Manager eh, bloody hell. The laptop should’ve gone out the window.
The league would take a backseat for the rest of October as we had matches in the Taca de Portugal, Europa League and Taca da Liga to finish off the month. LigaPro side, Arouca, took us all the way to penalties in our 3rd Round tie, where we’d come out of top scoring all four of ours and Jori made up for his Benfica error by saving two of theirs. My side was almost full strength, we’re really struggling for consistency at the moment.
At half time against Midtjylland we were on top. At full time against Midtjylland the match stats suggested we were on top. The scoreline, however, was a 3-1 defeat. We dominated the ball and had plenty of shots to their 3/5 that went in. An attempted 80 crosses is a worry though, are we too one-dimensional going forward? We attempted just the 40-odd against second tier Farense and eventually had to rely on yet another André André goal, this time a free kick in the 96th minute of the game. I supposed it owed us one after the Benfica loss.
Armed with a revamped tactic, which I’ll take you through in the next post, we gained some revenge on Maritimo for that 4-2 defeat in September’s Taca da Liga group stage match with a dominant 3-0 home win to pick up our third league win of the season. We followed that up in the league with a 1-1 away draw against high flying Boavista. After 10 matches that’s three wins, four draws and three defeats placing us in 11th.
Porto continue to fly following on from their title win last season and Benfica start yet another season unbeaten. Braga have improved massively under AVB and we’re yet to face off against our rivals this season. That becomes even more of a must win than usual. Of course one of struggling Portimonense’s points came against us, and our next match to kick off December is against 17th place Moreirense in the Cidade de Guimarães derby. Three points is essential in that one. I was worried at the start of the season but a couple of wins and we’ll be right back into the Europa League qualification mix again.
There was two brilliant results in the Europa League this month, including a battling win against PAOK where we played most of the match with 10 men, and that leaves the group sitting like this.
We’re in pole position but have a really tricky last group match away in Eindhoven to navigate. Get a result there, and we’re in to the knockout rounds. Should be simple, shouldn’t it? We also got even revenge on Maritimo by knocking them out of the Taca de Portugal. The five goals we scored matches our highest number of goals scored in a match so far with the last league match of last season. We’ve been drawn against LigaPro side, Varzim, in the 5th round with the board expecting us to reach the semi final.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ll be back for the next one, where I’ll take you through that tactical shift before going into the two busiest months of the season, December and January.
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