Portuguese Primeira Liga

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Teammates appear to stop Marega leaving after racist slurs

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LIBSON, Portugal — FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who tried to walk off the field after being the target of racist slurs from fans, faced apparent attempts Sunday by his own teammates and opposition players to prevent him from leaving.

Marega, who is black and from Mali, was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese football league.

But when Marega started to walk off the field, several players from both Porto and Guimarães appeared to argue with him. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also went on the field and spoke with Marega.

It took Marega several minutes to leave the field when he was substituted.

Marega held his thumbs down at the crowd as he went into the tunnel to the changing rooms. The crowd responded with loud jeers.

The attitude of the other players has drawn criticism on social media.

“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match.

“We are a family. One’s nationality, color, or height does not matter. We are human beings. We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”

Marega received a yellow card following his goal in the 61st minute when he appeared to respond to the slurs by pointing at his skin and by picking up a seat that had been thrown on the pitch.

LIVE – UCL quarterfinal 2nd legs: Atletico vs. Barca; Benfica vs. Bayern

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The final two UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second legs take place on Wednesday and it is tight.

Atletico Madrid host Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon with Barca taking a slender 2-1 lead to the Spanish capital, while Bayern Munich head to Lisbon to face Benfica with a 1-0 advantage from the first leg.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Atleti will fancy their chances of getting past a suddenly out-of-form Barca. Fernando Torres scored the opener at the Nou Camp but was then sent off for two silly yellow cards and a Luis Suarez double in the second half gave Barca a slight lead. That said, the away goal was of huge importance to Diego Simeone’s side. These two teams are also first and second in the La Liga standings with Barca’s lead cut to three points over Atleti. Expect plenty of mind games and rash tackles between these two teams.

In Portugal the hosts will also be quietly optimistic they can pull off an upset with Arturo Vidal’s early first leg goal the only difference between the two teams. Benfica’s defensive solidity has been impressive throughout their UCL campaign but under Pep Guardiola, Bayern have come up big when it mattered. Remember their incredible win in the Round of 16 against Juventus? They didn’t go through all of that for nothing…

Who will join Manchester City and Real Madrid in the final four?

Click on the link above to get live score updates and stats from both games, while we will have recaps, videos and analysis on both games right here on ProSoccerTalk.

Wednesday’s UCL schedule

Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona – 2:45 p.m. ET
Benfica vs. Bayern Munich – 2:45 p.m. ET

Red Bulls’ cast-off Patterson-Sewell makes jump to Portuguese Primeira Liga

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Those of you who know the back end of every Major League Soccer roster will probably remember Caleb Patterson-Sewell, even if he never played a game in Major League Soccer. The Tennessee-born (Australia-raised) goalkeeper had two tours of duty with the New York Red Bulls, and while he couldn’t establish himself in the U.S., the 25-year-old is set to get his shot in one of Europe’s better leagues.

That’s because Patterson-Sewell has just been bought by Portuguese Primera Liga side Vitória Setúbal, making the move from second-tier side Atlético Clube de Portugal after one season at the Lisbon-based club. He arrived there are four seasons in the second tier of U.S. soccer, playing for the Cleveland City Stars, Carolina Railhawks, and Miami FC (in addition to New York).

Yesterday, when discussing Brad Guzan, we talked about the precarious nature of goalkeeping work. Even with that in mind, Patterson-Sewell’s rise is remarkable. In two years, Patterson has gone from second division soccer in the States to the top-tier of Portuguese futebol.

Speaking to Tom Kundert at PortuGOAL.net, Patterson-Sewell seems to have high hopes for the upcoming season (one month away), though he’s keeping his long-term goals in perspective:

I’m just looking to work hard in pre-season and hopefully I’m the goalkeeper who gets the call. It’s a fight, it’s not easy, so I’m definitely not looking further down the line than that. It’s easy to get carried away, but you have to take it one thing at a time.”

You can read Kundert’s full exclusive here, with Patterson-Sewell clearly having passed his media training with flying colors.

It’s remarkable: A kid cast off from New York as recently as 2009 now has his sights set on playing top-tier soccer in Portugal:

When I first came to Portugal that was what I had in mind – to come here and prove myself and put myself in the shop window so to speak, so I could come and play at this level. That was my plan at least, so yeah, the last 12 months have worked out just about how I wanted. It’s a great thing to be here at Setúbal.” 

Portuguese league set to pass France, twist idea of Big Five

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In talking about European clichés, there was one I left out: Europe’s Big Five leagues. For a while now, the line between elite and good leagues has been drawn below France, with Italy, Germany, Spain and England sitting above Ligue 1.

But just as the upcoming changes in UEFA’s rankings are going to force us to change how we look at the top of Europe, so it will change the concept of big five. At least, it will change the concept, if the world chooses to take note of Portugal’s new standing.

Thanks in large part to the league’s amazing results in last year’s Europa League (where the Primeira placed three teams in the competition’s semifinals), Portugal’s Liga will pass France for fifth in the 2012-13 UEFA coefficient. The bump won’t get the league any new Champions League or Europa spots, but as we’ve discussed in referencing the European Golden Shoe, there are still a few places where the concept of a big five has meaning.

Europe’s award for the federation’s top goalscorer, the Golden Shoe isn’t necessarily awarded for goals; rather, the number of goals a player scores is multiplied by a modifier, the resulting points deciding who wins the award. If you’re playing in one of Europes top five leagues, your total is multiplied by two. Sixth through 21st? 1.5 is the multiplier. Next year, the likes of Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo and Braga’s Lima will get the boost, while Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud won’t.

The whole idea of such a static dividing line is a bit faulty. That Portugal’s strong run in Europa League could lead to such significant changes implies as much.

But it’s only the Golden Shoe. It’s a random award cared about by few, important to fewer. The more salient issue is why ideas like Big Two (Barcelona, Real Madrid), Three (England, Spain, Italy), Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United), Five (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France), and Six (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, United, and Tottenham) settle into the lexicon. When I talk to fellow soccer fans, I don’t get the feeling anybody’s scared of more the nuanced, grey areas at the fringes of these groups.

Of course, it’s much easier to type “Big Six” than “the big teams, plus Newcastle, but minus Liverpool, for now.” And perhaps this doesn’t need to be said, but never underestimate the ability of the written word to define the lexicon. Just because it’s easier to cut a corner and type “big five leagues” doesn’t mean that’s the most accurate reflection of reality.

Particularly going forward. For a while, when you read “big five leagues,” the author’s probably going to be alluding to a group that includes France but not Portugal. And given the relative drawing powers of the two leagues, there is an argument for keeping France at that tier. However, it’s better to think of those waters as murky. Where possible, we shouldn’t be afraid to lump France and Portugal together, rather than placing them on different sides of a great, manufactured divide.