UEFA.com profiles AS Monaco FC's João Moutinho as the former Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Porto midfielder prepares to renew acquaintances with SL Benfica.
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When SL Benfica visit AS Monaco FC on matchday three, they will come up against a familiar opponent.
João Moutinho now pulls the midfield strings for Monaco, but the 28-year-old made his name in his homeland, first with Sporting Clube de Portugal and then for FC Porto, Benfica's two main rivals. The son of a former Eagles forward Nélson Moutinho, João Moutinho left the Algarve and local side SC Portimonense to join the Sporting youth ranks aged just 14.
He made his senior Sporting debut in January 2005 – at 18 – in a Portuguese Cup match against FC Pampilhosa and soon became a regular. Indeed he was in the Lions team that lost that season's UEFA Cup final to PFC CSKA Moskva and was voted breakthrough player of the year in the Portuguese top flight.
Moutinho did not open his account for Sporting until the following campaign, when he played all 34 Liga games and found the net four times. He went on to make 84 consecutive league outings and, in 2007, became the club's youngest captain in 98 years. He lifted two Portuguese Cups and two Portuguese Super Cups before heading to Porto.
Moutinho picked up the Portuguese Super Cup in his first competitive fixture for the Dragons. He made more than 50 appearances in his debut 2010/11 campaign, helping his new employers to a league, cup and UEFA Europa League treble. He was equally influential in the retention of the title the following two seasons – Porto making it a hat-trick in 2012/13 – before Monaco came calling for him and team-mate James Rodríguez.
Moutinho v Benfica
The Portugal playmaker faced Benfica ten times with Porto, winning six, drawing two and losing two. He had already met them on 15 occasions while at Sporting, racking up four victories, six draws and five defeats. The first of those encounters was a memorable 2004/05 Portuguese Cup tie which Benfica edged 7-6 on penalties after a 3-3 draw. 'O Baixinho' (Little One) emerged as a first-half substitute and converted from the spot in the shoot-out.
Moutinho's first Lisbon derby success came at the third attempt, a 2-1 league triumph at the Estádio José de Alvalade. There was an even longer wait for his first – so far only goal – against Benfica, a beautiful long-range effort in the second leg of the 2010/11 Portuguese Cup semi-final which set Porto up for a 3-1 away win that overturned a 2-0 reverse in the opening instalment.
João Filipe Iria Santos Moutinho
Clubs: Sporting Clube de Portugal, FC Porto, AS Monaco FC
UEFA Europa League: 2010/11
Portuguese Liga: 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13
Portuguese Cup: 2006/07, 2007/08, 2010/11
Portuguese Super Cup: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
Major tournaments: UEFA EURO 2008, UEFA EURO 2012, 2014 FIFA World Cup
Age-group achievements: 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship winner