How they play, who plays, what has changed: 2nd part of the I Liga 2022/23 Guide

FC Porto

The dragons regained the title in an authoritative way, not only for the points record but also for the stylistic transformation that some names provided in Sérgio Conceição’s team. Less direct play, more thinking and technical perfume in the central zone. The rise of Vitinha – always protected by Uribe – brought a more cerebral side to blue and white football. Otávio’s tactical intelligence created advantages from within and, while there was Luis Díaz, FC Porto had one of the best unbalancers that have passed through here in recent years.

Conceição knew how to deal with the shocking loss of the Colombian (Pepê grew in the season) in January. In addition to the middleweight, he created a duo of high complementarity in attack. Taremi, more related to the game between the lines and often playing third midfielder without the ball, became involved in creation and Evanilson established himself as a reference. They benefit each other and provide guarantees for the new era. Fábio Vieira’s productivity in the last third – passing and shooting – also solved many problems. Another example of the bet on the house’s silver, which was already asking for another role.

The squad’s departures raise doubts, even because there are still no reinforcements in the midfield, but the greatest certainty is in the bench of substitutes. Sérgio Conceição offers FC Porto a punctual consistency that is difficult to follow, losing more or less players – continuity from Taremi and Otávio will be a strong desire. Still, it seems clear that there are needs in the downtown area. Stephen Eustáquio and Grujic offer different profiles to the coach, but a midfielder of another level will hardly enter. David Carmo, who takes Mbemba’s place, and Pepe have the responsibility to withstand the blue and white pressure. The central veteran’s physical problems can get in the way throughout the season. Pepê should reinforce his role this season and Gabriel Verón, even if he goes through a period of adaptation, has the physical and technical conditions to get ahead this season. The curiosity remains to see if young people like Vasco Sousa, Bernardo Folha, Danny Loader and Gonçalo Borges will add minutes.

Reference player: Otávio/Taremi
Possible revelation: Gabriel Veron

Otávio, Taremi and Evanilson, a trio that remains at FC Porto champion

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FC Vizela

The growth path of Álvaro Pacheco’s team, since the Portuguese Championship, has been no less than impressive. Staying in the first league was a success, but the ambition will be to achieve a calmer season. At the outset, there is an advantage over other direct competitors in the fight for maintenance: the continuity of most of the squad.

In addition, players like Samu and Kiko Bonoso made their recent career for Vizela and maintain their leading role in the Minho team. The extreme relevance as an unbalancer and finisher makes it preponderant. He is hyperactive and has the ability to use both feet, always accelerating to attack the goal. Álvaro Pacheco lost Schettine, which implies the arrival of a striker who gives guarantees. Still, there are offensive arguments. The main problems arose at the level of defensive organization.

Vizela was the second most beaten defense in the Portuguese league, something that must be improved to avoid unpleasant surprises. There was never much safety in the central pair, right from the start, with room for a upgrade individual in the sector. With few moves so far, the highlight of the market goes to Diego Rosa, on loan from Manchester City. Álex Méndez came from Ajax, which demonstrates the club’s attention to promises looking for space to assert themselves. As for the Brazilian, he stood out at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, showing above-average attributes in terms of passing. Rashid, Claudemir and Guzzo are other valid options.

Reference player: Kind Kiko
Possible revelation: Diego Rosa

Kind, the unbalancer of Álvaro Pacheco's team

Kind, the unbalancer of Álvaro Pacheco’s team

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GD Chaves

Not being exactly a surprise the rise of the Flaviense emblem to the first league, after the farewell in 2018/19, it took a second round of excellence to still guarantee the place of playoff. Vítor Campelos’ team played a championship backwards, approaching the exhibitional consistency of Rio Ave and Casa Pia. For the new season, João Teixeira’s renewal was a priority. It’s in the sweet spot. In the commonly used midfield trio, you can play more linked to construction or supporting the striker. He assumes himself as the creative reference and plays a leading role as a counterattack launcher.

The growth of Chaves throughout the season had an important contribution from Batxi and from Wellington Carvalho, the team’s top scorer in the championship. From the wings, they offer explosion and the ability to appear in shooting zones. Euller, left-handed from Cyprus, should enter the discussion for a place at 11. Even so, the main changes are in the defensive axis, as the duo Luís Rocha and Alexsandro (completely above the reality of the second league, moved to Lille ) abandoned Trás-os-Montes.

Steven Vitória joined to ensure first-league experience and Nélson Monte returns to Portugal to have the stability he couldn’t have in Ukraine. On the left, it is not certain that Bruno Langa will retain the title, given the arrival of Sandro Cruz, a young side trained at Benfica. This means, therefore, that the only resister may be João Correia, another figure in the group guided by Vítor Campelos. Attacks from the inside, unbalances from the outside, dares to enter the area. Like João Teixeira, he renewed his contract. The unknown, at this point, is whether the reinforcements are enough to increase the competitive level and remain in the elite of Portuguese football.

Reference player: João Teixeira
Possible revelation: Euller

João Correia scored at the climb party and remains in Chaves

João Correia scored at the climb party and remains in Chaves


Gil Vicente

You can’t talk about the Portuguese league 2021/22 without making the most of the historic campaign of the Barcelos emblem. Not only because of the classification, but also because of the seductive football and the way in which Ricardo Soares framed players with a technical and creative profile within the collective idea. As always happens, the club was unable to hold on to some of the figures in the squad and the coach also embraced the Egyptian challenge. You have to start again, but what is done no one can erase.

The choice of Ivo Vieira is consistent with what was done last season, betting on a coach with an offensive mentality. He doesn’t come from a famous experience in Famalicão, but he has previously proved that he has the skills to continue the work of Ricardo Soares – instilling a personal touch, naturally. The challenge for managers and supporters is to understand that doing better is almost impossible. The “hangover” is not always easy and expectations must be adjusted, starting with the departure of names like Pedrinho and Samuel Lino, two of the best in the 2021/22 league.

Pedro Tiba, not being so creative, is enough to be one of the references of the gilista group. He is a somewhat undervalued midfielder in Portugal, but there is still time to gain another status. Kritsyuk needs no introduction. Ali Alipour will compete with Fran Navarro, a striker who has the task of proving that the goals he scored were not the thing of an isolated season. As in 2021/22, there are some exciting young people to watch. Tomás Araújo, on loan from Benfica, should find space to launch himself in the first league. Kevin Villodres, from the left, will make similar moves to Samuel Lino. Gil Vicente expects him to approach the level of the Brazilian. Boselli exchanges Tondela for Barcelos and threatens the starting lineup on the right side – another winger on the opposite foot. Kanya Fujimoto asserted himself in Barcelos and the arrival of Mizuki Arai (short, skillful, assumes the move or combines in the last third) confirms the bet on the Japanese market.

Reference player: Fran Navarro
Possible revelation: Mizuki Arai/Kevin Villodres

Spaniard Fran Navarro was one of Gil's figures last season

Spaniard Fran Navarro was one of Gil’s figures last season

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Júlio Velázquez left with the Madeirans in the relegation zone, on the eleventh round, after a defeat in Tondela. The entry of Vasco Seabra proved that it was possible to do better with that squad. Far from the power of the Marítimo of other times, which was regularly in the European fight and saw the best players transferred to the main clubs, but with enough value to reach quiet places.

And so it was. In addition to the tactical changes promoted by the new coach, we also saw a significant change in the team’s state of mind, which translated into five wins in the first seven matches with Vasco Seabra (a triumph in eleven games with Velázquez). If it weren’t for a season finale marked by the difficulty in adding points, the islanders could even apply for the top-6. The objective, now with the possibility of doing the pre-season and having an influence on the choice of the squad, will be to achieve a certain exhibitional continuity and improve the classification.

Rafik Guitane, agile and extremely skilled, was the main maritimist unbalancer and will not be part of the plans for the new season. Ali Alipour (second best scorer) moved to Barcelos and Joel Tagueu is being coveted, which could force Vasco Seabra and find new goalscoring references. Jesús Ramírez and Pablo Moreno have arrived, a promising Spanish forward who has yet to convince in senior football. He has a remarkable sense of detachment. Lucho Vega enters to bring creativity and, at the core, Rafael Brito (one of the most exciting names that Benfica recently formed) and João Afonso make up for Rossi’s departure. There is a focus on young talent, and it remains to be seen whether Marítimo manages to return Rodrigo Pinho – a wish already publicly assumed by the coach.

Reference player: Zainadine
Possible revelation: Rafael Brito/Pablo Moreno

Vasco Seabra arrived in the middle of last season and raised the quality of Marítimo's game

Vasco Seabra arrived in the middle of last season and raised the quality of Marítimo’s game

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Paços de Ferreira

There were several teams in the league that, not starting the season in the best way, managed to overcome the crisis and achieve stability. Beavers were one such set. With the exchange of Jorge Simão for César Peixoto, Paços de Ferreira returned to victories and left the low part of the table to finish in a calm position. All this with a modest squad and lacking firepower, something the club is trying to correct in the market.

The pre-season will certainly help the pacense coach to fine-tune ideas, looking to direct the team to a more supported game, resisting pressure and avoiding the hasty pass in depth. Douglas Tanque did not have a suitable substitute and the 29 goals scored in the 21/22 league are the second worst record, only behind B SAD. Creating more submission situations and taking advantage of them is the challenge for there to be a qualitative leap and, who knows, the fight for higher places in the classification. Everything indicates that César Peixoto will have other offensive weapons to cause difficulties for opponents.

Individually, Arthur Sales brings mobility, power to attack space and a fearsome left foot, which promises to wreak havoc in Portugal. Nigel Thomas is an irreverent winger, unpredictable in dribbling and changing speeds. It lacked tear and the hiring profile considered this gap. In a squad that includes the veterans of Antunes, Luiz Carlos or Gaitán, there are many youngsters looking to gain status. Jordan Holsgrove, midfielder, is a strong candidate for the revelation of this championship. The departure of goalkeeper André Ferreira – undisputed pillar of the beavers – and central Maracás and Marco Baixinho opens space for the renovation of the defensive sector, with the unknown Tiago Ilori arriving on loan.

Reference player: Gaitan
Possible revelation: Jordan Holsgrove/Arthur Sales

Veteran Nico Gaitán remains in César Peixoto's squad

Veteran Nico Gaitán remains in César Peixoto’s squad

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