The Mane Land is proud to present this new regular column, where you will be able to find out how Orlando City’s international partner clubs are doing. In this space we’ll let you know how they are performing in their national and continental leagues, which players they’ve signed, and much more.
In this inaugural edition, we will recap Benfica SL’s and Stoke City’s campaigns in their national leagues and discuss Atletico Paranaense’s most recent news.
Atletico Paranaense finished second in the Parana State Championship, losing to rivals Coritiba in the finals. The club also had a rough start in Brazil’s national championship, losing in its first two matches of the tournament.
On the continental level, though, Furacão is thriving, advancing to the elimination round of the Copa Libertadores da América with a 3-2 road win over Chilean side Universidad Catolica (see the highlights below) in the last match of the group stage. Veteran right back Jonathan, a former Internazionale player, and midfielder Carlos Alberto, a UEFA Champions League winner with FC Porto in 2004, led the team to the victory.
Benfica remains dominant in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, as the club won its fourth straight title earlier this month. The Encarnados finished six points ahead of rivals FC Porto to top the standings for the 36th time in their history, a record in their country. Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou was the team’s top scorer with 16 goals.
The club can add yet another trophy to its gallery today, as Benfica plays Vitoria de Guimaraes in the ‘Taça de Portugal’ final. According to the Portuguese media, Benfica is about to get even stronger as the team is closing on the signing of Swiss forward Haris Seferovic, who currently plays for Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.
In UEFA Champions League play, Benfica finished second in Group B in 2016-17 and was knocked out of the competition in the round of 16 by a 4-1 aggregate score by Borussia Dortmund.
After three straight seasons finishing ninth in the English Premier League, Stoke City dropped four spots to close the season 13th in 2016-17. The club struggled with a slow start, failing to win until the eighth match of the season, and had 36-year-old striker Peter Crouch as its main offensive player. The positive side was Head Coach Mark Hughes, who became one of the seven coaches to amass 150 EPL wins.
Stoke City also failed to succeed in the FA Cup and the League Cup, being knocked out of both tournaments in the third round by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hull City, respectively. According to some English outlets, the club’s front office already showed some willingness to spend big money to make the team progress next season.