English Championship football returns - here's what fans of Portuguese football should keep an eye on
The second tier of English football is back underway, kicking off with an enthralling 3-3 draw between Luton and Middlesbrough.
While that match did not have any Portuguese interest, the football continues again today, and fans of the Portuguese game have certain fixtures that they should be keeping a close eye on.
Reading, for example, who are managed by former Rio Ave boss Jose Gomes, kick off their league campaign today by welcoming Sheffield Wednesday to the Madejski Stadium. They narrowly avoided the drop last season, and will be hoping to be climbing up the table this time around in a league that is always hotly contested.
They boast young Portuguese goalkeeper Joao Virginia in their ranks too, who is set to make his competitive debut for the club, named in their starting lineup.
Virginia started against Chelsea in a pre-season friendly on 28th July that finished 4-3 to the Europa League winners, and will be hoping to make a good impression this afternoon.
In terms of their opponents, Sheffield Wednesday also have a Portuguese player in their side, former international Lucas Joao on the bench for the match today.
It is the late kick-off that has the most Portuguese affiliation though, where Nottingham Forest take on West Bromwich Albion in what is sure to be an intriguing battle.
Forest boast several Portuguese players in their ranks; Tobias Figuieredo and Joao Carvalho, who is on the cusp of returning to action after injury, are joined at the club by Feirense’s Tiago Silva and Benfica duo Yuri Ribeiro and Alfa Semedo. With 5 Portuguese players in their ranks, they are certainly one to keep an eye on this season for fans of the Portuguese game.
They will be looking to earn promotion to the Premier League, having not played in the top flight of English football since 2004.
Last season, they finished 9th in the league standings, and will be hoping to jump at least 3 or 4 places up the table, with the play-offs a realistic target for the club this time around.
Wolves have also got two high-profile Portuguese players currently out on loan in the English Championship, with Ivan Cavaleiro at Fulham and Helder Costa at Leeds United. Cavaleiro starts today in an away clash with Barnsley, joined in the squad by compatriot Rui Fonte who starts on the bench, while Helder Costa’s Leeds face Bristol City tomorrow afternoon.
Former FA Cup champions Wigan Athletic are the other Championship club currently boasting a Portuguese player in their side, with Leonardo Lopes on their roster.
Fans of Portuguese football may not know much about the 20-year old central midfielder, with Lopes having plied his trade in England since 2013, when he was just 14 years of age.
He does not start for Wigan today, nor is he named on their bench, as they host Cardiff City at 15:00 today.