The Liga BPI or the Campeonato Nacional Feminino is at the halfway mark, but which are the most underrated players that deserve more recognition? Liga BPI enthusiast Joe Murphy shares his thoughts.
We are now at the halfway mark for the 2022/23 Liga BPI season, and it has been fun to watch so far. For this article, I wanted to create a team of players that have had a great season but have gone under the radar. So they are like my hipster picks. To do this, I am going to exclude players from the top 4 teams (Benfica, Braga, Famalicão and Sporting). I will also exclude players such as Telma or Beatriz Cameirão, as we knew about their talent before the season started. All the stats I use are from ZeroZero and RealFEVR.
Goalkeeper – Ana Rita Oliveira
Ouriense are having a great season, and they are currently unbeaten in the league if you remove their games against the top 4 teams. In these games, they have only conceded four goals, and at the heart of this amazing defensive record is Ana Rita Oliveira. The 24-year-old has proven herself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the league by making match-winning saves. This has led to her winning numerous player of the matches awards. She has also made the most saves in the league, with 65 saves in eleven matches.
Right Back – Inês Queiroga
Probably one of the hardest positions to find, but the Valadares Gaia right-wing back got my vote. It seems that every time I watch one of their games, the majority of their attacks come down their right side. Queiroga overlapping have been a big factor in these attacks, as it seems that Valadares do struggle in the final third with the ball. Although she hasn’t registered a single assist this season, you can’t take away how good her crosses into the box have been. If it were down to better finishing, she would be competing for the most assists out of any player in the league.
Centre Back – Opal Curless/ Zoe Hudson
I spent ages deciding which Valadares Gaia centre back to go with, so I decided to go with both of them. It was too harsh to include one over the other, as they both have been impressive this season. Although they haven’t kept a clean sheet this season so far, their overall defensive performances have been solid. They are both great at one on one defending by forcing their opponents to make a mistake, and then they step in to win the ball. Curless and Hudson are also both comfortable on the ball, which is a rarity for some of these smaller teams in the league. So yes, I may be cheating by picking two, but it is impossible to separate them.
Centre Back- Ana Assucena
For me, Assucena is one of the best centre-backs in the league and is one of the players that should be called up to the national team. Assucena likes to control the ball in defensive areas where most defenders just kick it out of play. She can carry the ball from these defensive areas and start counterattacks for Damaiense. This ability has also seen her play in midfield for a couple of games, with the most notable game being against Sporting. At the start of the season, I picked her out for being a goal threat as she had an impressive record in the second division, and this has carried on to this season. Assucena has three goals to her name and will likely add to this tally in the second half of the season.
Left Back – Madalena Marau
The Länk Vilaverdense full-back has stepped up massively this season and is always a joy to watch. Marau likes to join with the attacks by pushing up high on the left flank. Her whipped crosses are a huge attacking option for Vilaverdense, as they always seem to cause a problem for her opponents. From these crosses, she has two assists to her name and four goals which is great for a left-back. Marau defensive side of her game is just as good, and just like Assuecena, she should be in contention with a national team call-up.
Centre Midfielder – Cristiana Vieira
Vieira has to be one of the most versatile players in the league. She has played all over the midfield this season, but her best position is as a number 8. She is a very energetic player that likes to cover every blade of grass on the position. Vieira also finds some great positions in and around the penalty, making her a problem for opposition defenders. Despite being one of the league’s most booked players, this doesn’t take away from how good she is at intercepting the play. These aggressive interceptions are vital for Länk Vilaverdense.
Centre Midfielder – Ariadna Cerezuela
Torreense newbie Cerezuela started off the season playing in the midfield before being asked to play further forward to cover their attacking issues. Despite only being 22 years old and new to Portuguese football, she is the captain of this Torreense squad. Before her injury, she was the only one stepping up for Torreense and often bailing them out of difficult situations. Her injury did have an impact on the team’s results, but luckily she should be back for their next game.
Centre Midfielder – Jéssica Pastilha
The Ouriense captain plays in a number 8 role of a midfield three. Pastilha isn’t the type to get the ball from a deep position and carry the ball forward to help her take the pressure off her defence. Instead, she joins in with the press and will always try to win the ball quickly as possible. On the ball, Pastilha very rarely gives the ball away as she knows that her Ouriense team will have less possession in all games than their opponents. She makes quick and smart passes to help gain some momentum for her team. This is the reason why Pastilha makes this squad because, in every game, she is always at least an 8/10.
Right Wing – Huỳnh Như
Another member of the Länk Vilaverdense squad who has gone under the radar. Although Như’s favoured position isn’t on the right of a front three, I still had to include her in this team. She is the only Vietnamese women’s player playing for a European team, and she has given her home country something to be proud about. She was eased into first-team action by making late appearances off the bench, but in her first start, she bagged a brace. Since this game, Như has played every game with full confidence. She is never afraid to have a shoot or take on a player. Như is one of the smallest players in the league, yet she challenges for every header. For these reasons is why Như is one of my favourite players in the league, as she likes to battle for every lost ball.
Left Wing – Summer Green
Summer Green is arguably the best signing of the Liga BPI summer transfer window. Although her position in this team is left-wing she has played all down the left side this season. Out of possession, she drops back into a left wing-back role to add another body for Damaiense’s defense. In possession, she moves into more of a left-wing/forward role and is a big attacking threat. Green has scored four goals and has eight assists to her name in the league, making her the Damaiense player with the most goal contributions.
Striker – Olivia Kearse-Thomas
At the start of the season, I was worried for Albergaria as I didn’t know which one of their players would consistently score their goals. Kearse-Thomas joined them from Damaiense over the summer and has proven to be a consistent goalscorer. She has four goals in nine matches which is a great goal-to-game ratio for any striker. Although she hasn’t got an assist so far, her underlying stats suggest she is close to getting one. Kearse-Thomas has made 11 key passes so far, and from the chances I have seen, she has been unlucky not to get an assist. I also want to give a shoutout to the two Albergaria wingers, Carolina Ferreira and Érica Gomes, as both of these could have easily made this list too.
Thanks all for reading, and I hope you liked my choices. Let’s see if these players have a successful end to the Liga BPI season. If there were any you disagreed with or someone I forgot to include, please do tell me.
You can find additional Liga BPI Fantasy resources for the 22/23 season here.
A huge Bolton Wanderers fan, Joe also loves talking about Women’s football and the Liga BPI in particular.