Probing Toon’s Europa League group stage opponents: Part one – C.S. Maritimo.
Posted on September 5th, 2012 | 146 Comments |
Team: C.S. Maritimo.
League: Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Position last season: 5th.
Stadium: Estádio dos Barreiros, Funchal, Madeira.
Last major trophy: Campeonato de Portugal, 1926.
Fixture dates: Thurs, 4th Oct (A), Thurs, 22nd Nov (H)
Though Maritimo play in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, Maritimo (Maritime) are situated on the island of Madeira, some 600 miles from the Portuguese coast and slightly closer to Africa than to Portugal.
Madeira was colonised by the Portuguese in the early 15th Century and is now an autonomous district of Portugal. Despite being a very small island, with a population which is roughly similar to that of Newcastle upon Tyne without Gateshead, Gosforth and the rest, the island of Madeira has no less than eleven teams competing in the Portuguese leagues, the major ones being Maritimo and their main Madeiran rivals Nacional in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. Both Maritimo and Nacional are from Madeira’s capital city, Funchal. It was Nacional who helped to groom the young Funchalian who subsequently went on to become Madeira’s most famous football export by far, Christiano Ronaldo, who won a title with Naconal’s youth team before he moved on to one of the big three of Portuguese football, Sporting Club of Lisbon, at the tender age of twelve.
Getting back to Maritimo though, as you can see above, they were 5th in last year’s Primeira Liga with 50 points. However, as there are only 16 teams playing a total of 30 games per season in the Primeira Liga, this is the equivalent of around 63 points in the 20 team, 38 game English Premiership, two points less than Newcastle United won for their own fifth Premiership place last season. Of their 40 years or so competing in the Portuguese leagues this was Maritimo’s joint highest position, though they have managed it 6 times before, along with 3 sixths and 4 sevenths. Overall, their consistentency would put them at tenth in an all time Primeira Liga table. This is despite the Madeiran clubs only being allowed to compete in the Portuguese League for the first time in the 1973-4 season, and not entering the Primeira Liga for the first time until the 1977-1978 season. However, it is virtually impossible to break the monopoly of “Os Três Grandes,” the big three of Portuguese football, Lisbon’s Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal, and the most dominant Portuguese club of recent times, FC Porto from Portugal’s second city.
In terms of cup competitions, Maritimo’s best so far has been two appearences in the 2001 and 1995 Portuguese Cup finals, though if we go way back to 1926, the days when Wee Hughie Gallacher was wowing the St James’ Park crowds with his prolific goalscoring, Maritimo won the Campeonato de Portugal, the main Portuguese trophy of the time which was a kind of League and Cup competition all rolled into one. Last year they made the Quarter Finals of the Cup after beating the mighty Benfica 2-1, though they were eliminated 3-0 by the aforementioned Sporting in the Quarter Finals. To give you an idea of what the lads might be up against if Maritimo have a good game, here are some highlights of that Benfica game at Martimo’s place, the “Estádio dos Barreiros.” Incidentally, if you are wondering why there are so many empty seats, they are parts of a new stadium for the club which was still under construction at the time, and it seems that it is still unfinished due to financial problems with the consortium building it. Hence, it currently has a capacity of under 5000 with only one stand still open to spectators.
Finally for this section, like Newcastle United, Maritimo are old hands at this UEFA Cup / Europa League lark. They have competed in six UEFA Cups and this is their second Europa League so far, though they have never progressed beyond the earlier rounds. Last season they went out in the Europa Cup playoffs.
Form this season
Looking at this season for Maritimo so far, they won their first game of the Premeira Liga season 1-0 against Rio Ave (away), with the second being a 0-0 home draw with Gil Vicente. In the Europa League they have already played four games. The first games, a 1-1 away draw and a 0-0 home draw against Asteras Tripolis of Greece is an interesting one as they are a team of around the same strength as our last Europa League opponents, Atromitos. the next two against Georgian side Dila Gori saw Maritimo easing through to the group stages fairly comfortably with a 1-0 home victory and a 0-2 away victory for the Madeirans, which saw them comfortbly through to the group stages.
Lest you were thinking that Newcastle United now have a monopoly on lethal Senegalese hitmen, Maritimo’s top scorer for the last two seasons was their Senegalese striker / winger, Babá. He scored 15 goals in only 22 appearences for Maritimo last season. The good news for us though is that he was sold in the last window to Spanish club, Seville, for an undisclosed amount. It would have been great if Newcastle United had signed him though, then we could have fielded a Senegalese strike force of Ba and Babá! Now though, the dangermen should be striker / winger Sami from Guinea Bissau, and their Brazilian striker / winger, Danilo. Having written that neither of them seem to have been especially prolific with goals last season or in the little there has been of this season so far. Sami scored 6 goals in a total of 37 appearences last season, and has yet to hit the back of the net in this one. Meanwhile, Danilo scored 9 goals in 39 appearences, scoring one goal (against FC Dila Gori) in the Europa League.
Maritimo shouldn’t cause too much of a problem against a full strength Newcastle United team. They should be a slightly more stiffer test than our previous Europa League opponents, Atromitos. Then again, with a desperate shortage of players thanks to the parsimony of Mike Ashley, Alan Pardew has already said that he will not be giving much priority to Europe this year. His second string side were VERY lucky to get past Atromitos when the Greeks should have been awarded one definite penalty, and possibly even two though the second one was more debatable. Tim Krul should also have been sent off after the first incident too for bringing down an Atromitos player. Anyway, as I write, although they shouldn’t be a big threat to a full strength Newcastle side, we could get a very nasty surprise this time if our Silver Supremo just treats these games as just a canny run out for the bairns!