Portugal: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Best Ever Finish: 3rd place (1966)
Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
Manager: Paulo Bento
For the third successive time, Portugal have qualified for a major tournament via the playoffs.
Having finished second in their qualifying group, a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired 4-2 aggregate victory secured them a place on the plane to Brazil. The Real Madrid forward practically dragged them there, scoring all four goals over the two legs and turning in a pair of stunning displays.
The team looks great on paper, but there are still chronic problems which plague this Portuguese team. The back four is pretty settled, but they have regularly struggled to garner a suitable balance in the middle of the pitch.
Nani and Ronaldo provide threat from the wide areas, but questions linger as to whether Helder Postiga has the class to lead the line.
This team are a supreme counter attacking outfit. They will sit in their own half and allow teams to come onto them before springing from deep positions and exploiting the space in behind.
Lapses in concentration and inconsistency throughout the team has been their major weakness of late. If these can be eradicated, Portugal will be a real threat this World Cup and it may finally be the time where they live up to the expectations these talented players have threatened for so long.
A quarterfinal team on paper, but with Ronaldo being Ronaldo, he could drag them into the final knockings.
Key Player – Cristiano Ronaldo
Arguably the best player in the world today, CR7 has been nothing short of extraordinary over the last few years. At the time of writing, he has amassed an incredible 32 goals in just 22 games for both club and country this season.
Proof of the mans genius and importance to Portugal was seen in the second leg of their play off against Sweden. A Ronaldo hattrick pulled his team through when it looked as if they were being threatened with elimination and propelled him to the top of the betting to pick up the 2013 Ballon D’Or.
With Ronaldo at his best, Portugal have much to be excited about ahead of their trip to Brazil.