Columns Maria Pinto Jorge
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Portugal still exists without Ricardinho

Maria Pinto Jorge, a Portuguese sports journalist with an emphasis on futsal discusses for FutsalFeed the remake of the Portuguese national futsal team, who have qualified for the 2022 UEFA Futsal Euro in Netherlands as the first in their group, but who have also played without their star player for most of the qualifiers.

In her new column, Maria notices there is a lot of similarities in regard to the media portrayal of major footballing sports in Portugal. Many reports are mostly focused on godlike figures in the team, unjustly neglecting the rest of the players in the team and their impact on the end result.

Therefore, Maria argues that Portuguese futsal fans shouldn't worry when Ricardinho decides to retire. The Portuguese futsal team is turning out to be an invigorating mix of experience and fresh talent under the guidance of Jorge Braz who are traveling to the Netherlands to defend their title.

Spoiler alert: Ignore this article if you think this is a text against one of the G.O.A.T. in futsal. It isn’t. It’s about a country doing what it does best, loving and playing a sport.

Portugal qualified for Euro 2022 last Monday (April 12), after beating Norway in the penultimate round of the qualifying group stage. The European champion in 2018 will return to dispute the title, but that is another subject. In six of the games in this phase, Ricardinho only played two of them, missing the rest by injury. Plot twist: even without one of the best in the futsal world, the Portuguese team still guaranteed its presence in the Netherlands.

World of sports and its crisis with Portugal

What we see happening in Portuguese futsal is a spin-off of what happens in other sports teams in the same country. Let's do it by steps. Ricardinho is for futsal like Cristiano Ronaldo for football or Madjer for beach soccer. Curious, for starters, the Portuguese teams have a leading character, the other players become, in this perspective, secondary characters.

In the same way that Cristiano Ronaldo left for getting injured in the game in which Portugal became European football Champion in 2016, oddly enough, the biggest name of Portuguese futsal was also injured in the extension of the 2018 final, being then Bruno Coelho to take the reins and bring the title to this land 'by the sea planted'. In both cases, the rest of the team - without stars - won their titles, although their games are just a blockbuster thanks to their stars… It now loses meaning.

I would also like to compare another question. Ferrão (Barcelona) is considered the best in the world, while Falcão has been for many years. However, contrary to what happens with the country of the Iberian Peninsula, in Brazil, despite these names as headliners, the other players are given their due value. We aren’t comparing the grandeur of Brazilian futsal with that of Portugal, nothing like that, just a comparison in terms of focus on the team. Many people, for this same reason, don’t know any other player coached by Jorge Braz.

The Portuguese remake

Backstory: For the last rounds of this qualification, Portugal was forced to overcome two important absences due to injury: Cardinal and Ricardinho. Two of the biggest names in Portuguese futsal are in recovery after being operated and it has caused them to fail in the last games.

If, on the one hand, it’s obviously bad for the severity of these injuries, on the other hand, it gave the opportunity to some returns and debuts. In this case, I would like to highlight the names of André Galvão, Mário Freitas, Zicky, Tomás Paçó and Silvestre.

The team has undergone some changes. We now see a remake in the coach's call. For the winger position, we’ll always find Bruno Coelho - who has been commanding the possession of the ball at all levels, being one of the fundamental pieces - however, Mário Freitas (AD Fundão), had the possibility to return to play for his country, thanks to the great time he has done, and to reinvent himself in this group, exactly in that position.

Tomás Paçó (Sporting) could also be the future for Jorge Braz. These are options that ended up using the absence of Ricardinho to show. As pivot, we had André Galvão (Leões de Porto Salvo) and Zicky (Sporting). Both appear as a hypothesis thanks to Cardinal's injury, but they could be a perfectly normal choice even without this condition since they have been one of the greatest highlights of Liga Placard.

Closing credits:

Portugal needs fresh blood combined with experience, like João Matos - current captain -, for example, to give a new impetus to the style of futsal played. Is this the recipe for the attack on the World Cup and the European championship?

We still don't have the answer to that question, but we always have that possibility on the table. In addition, we realize or want to make it clear, that Portugal is much more than Ricardinho's touch acrobatics.

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Maria Pinto Jorge


Maria Pinto Jorge


Maria Pinto Jorge is a Portuguese and Brazilian sports journalist with a special interest in futsal. She is an editor at LeoninoPT, a Sporting CP's website, where she focuses on Sporting CP's futsal team. She is also a journalist and commentator at the biggest futsal page in Portugal, Zona Técnica.