World Cup scouting: Fábio Coentrão (Portugal)

Even by modern standards, Fábio Coentrão is frighteningly skillful for a full-back.

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The blond left-sided player began his career as a fleet-footed winger at hometown club Rio Ave, with whom he spent three years prior to joining Benfica in July 2007. He had to bide his time before making his first-team breakthrough though, enduring largely unfulfilling loan spells at Nacional and Real Zaragoza before returning to Rio Ave on another loan deal in January 2009, and it wasn’t until this season that he managed to pin down a starting place at the Estádio da Luz.

Like Patrice Evra and Michel Bastos before him, earning a place in the first XI meant turning his back on a position he felt was his own. He was moved to left-back by Benfica coach Jorge Jesus at the dawn of last season and his enterprising performances in the Lisbon giants’ sensational title-winning campaign confirmed national coach Carlos Queiroz’s suspicions that he could be the solution to Portugal’s longstanding problem in that area.

“Firstly it’s important to note that the club where he is playing seems to be satisfied with an opinion and a vision that we had one and a half years ago,” said Queiroz in April.

“And the player himself and the fans likewise. Forty-five minutes after the first training session I saw him in, I spoke with my coaching team and said to put Fábio at left-back because I saw he had the characteristics to play in that position.”

At 22, Coentrão will be the youngest member of Queiroz’s squad and, if selected ahead of Malaga midfielder Duda, he will have an important over-lapping role to play on the left-hand side, particularly as Portugal are highly likely to field a right-footed attacker ahead of him. Having been thrown into international waters at the deep end as a second-half substitute in the first leg of Portugal’s play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in November, world football’s showpiece occasion should hold few fears for the former youth international.

Physically slight but occasionally rash in his tackling, Coentrão is a commendably cavalier dribbler and possesses wonderfully soft feet as well as a fierce shot. His performances last season were rumoured to have caught the attention of clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Roma, but his immediate thoughts will be on South Africa, where he will hope to emulate another converted winger called Fabio by leaving an indelible impression on World Cup history.

A list of players to look out for at the World Cup scouted by Football Further can be found here. Next Friday we’ll publish details of players from all 32 teams whose progress we’ll be following throughout the tournament.

11 Responses to “World Cup scouting: Fábio Coentrão (Portugal)”

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vinu Cherian George, Tom Williams. Tom Williams said: World Cup scouting: Fabio Coentrao (Portugal); possibly the most skilful full-back going to South Africa: http://bit.ly/ajyxyn […]

  • I have seen this kid a few times. He is very good going forward but my fear is that he will be targeted in the air by some cynical/pragmatic manager. Teams that use target-man type wide players like Italy and Greece could give him problems.

    He loves to cut in and make late runs into the box. If teams don’t track him he could be a handful.

  • Steve:

    A player I have a lot of respect for, I caught him live here in Toronto at the U20 world cup a few years back and I thought we had another Quaresma on our hands a wonderfully skilled and selfish trickster. However, I was wrong, I think Jorge Jesus has shown him the way of hard work and humility and he has been a revelation this year. I already think he is a better left back then Duda, although his rash tackling may get us into trouble!

  • […] World Cup scouting: Fábio Coentrão (Portugal) “Even by modern standards, Fábio Coentrão is frighteningly skilful for a full-back. The blond left-sided player began his career as a fleet-footed winger at hometown club Rio Ave, with whom he spent three years prior to joining Benfica in July 2007. He had to bide his time before making his first-team breakthrough though, enduring largely unfulfilling loan spells at Nacional and Real Zaragoza before returning to Rio Ave on another loan deal in January 2009, and it wasn’t until this season that he managed to pin down a starting place at the Estádio da Luz.” (Football Further) […]

  • The Youtube compilation you have used of Coentrao was when he was still playing as a winger (mostly for Rio ave). He is still very attacking but he lets De Maria do all the fancy dribbles these days.

    I am just pointing it out because it may give your readers a false impression of how he will play for Portugal.

    • Tom:

      Fair point. I tried to dig out some more recent footage of him playing for Benfica, but couldn’t find anything decent on YouTube.

  • […] Group G Brazil: 6. Michel Bastos North Korea: 9. Jong Tae-Se Ivory Coast: 10. Gervinho Portugal: 23. Fábio Coentrão […]

  • Great job on this post!
    I hope he stays with Benfica, and I am not just saying this because it’s the club I support(although it’s a contributing factor), I am saying this because I don’t think he is ready for a major club like Real Madrid(there have been rumors).

  • […] for the crucial game with Brazil. Liverpool rumoured to be preparing €12 million bid. Portugal: Fábio Coentrão – Group match 1 (Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal): Had to rein in his natural attacking instincts […]

  • […] theoretical advantages. Elite modern full-backs are an attacking breed anyway (Patrice Evra and Fábio Coentrão, to name but two, both started their careers as wingers), and while they often provide the same […]

  • Football transfer rumours: Sami Khedira to Chelsea?…

    We found your article interesting and added a Trackback to it on the London Informer :)…

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