In our Portugal Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Portugal team, the 2016 UEFA European Championship winners.
Portugal Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Mario Rui, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira, Ruben Dias
Midfielders: Adrien Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, William Carvalho
Forwards: Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma
- Manager: Fernando Santos
- Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
- Best Finish: Third (1966)
Likely starting lineup
You wouldn’t be writing Portugal off after their accomplishments at the European Championships two years ago.
So often they were doubted in France, as they made their way through the group stages and the knockout stages with their dogged brand of football. Even in the final, when Ronaldo was forced off, few anticipated they’d get the job done. But they found a way and head to Russia with undoubted pedigree as a result.
The first campaign after a big win can be difficult for international teams, although the signs are that a fire still burns in Portugal. While they needed to beat Switzerland in the final game to book their place at the finals, they won nine out of their 10 qualifying matches.
In the main the core of players that made history in 2016 remains. On the positive side, these players know they can look one another in the eye and trust themselves to perform on the big stage. However, figures like Pepe, Joao Moutinho and even Ronaldo have two more seasons in their legs.
With that in mind, Santos will be looking to some of the younger players in the group to make their mark. Bernardo Silva is one and has been tremendous for Manchester City; he is expected to forge an excellent partnership down the right flank with Cedric Soares. Andre Silva and Gelson Martins should also get a chance to impress.
Still, for Portugal a defence-first approach remains in place. And with the finest goalscorer of this generation at the sharp end of the pitch, it’s an approach that’s yielded so much success for the Selecao.
Their game is based on edging fine margins, but with Ronaldo, there’s always an excellent chance of those precarious contests going the way of the European champions.
Key Man – Cristiano Ronaldo
In recent years, Ronaldo appears to have conditioned himself to be at his absolute best in the final weeks of the season, making him crucial in Real Madrid’s three Champions League successes in a row. It was to the benefit of Portugal two years ago too.
While Ronaldo wasn’t at his red-hot best at the Euros, he was much more involved in games than we are used to him being at Madrid. And even in the final after hobbling off injured, his evolution into a leader of men was evident on the sidelines.
He’s still a bloody good goalscorer too. Once again he finished the season with more than 41 goals and in the penalty area he’s so difficult to keep under wraps.
We’re unlikely to see Ronaldo dashing down the wing and trying to unsettle defenders with an array of lollipops as he did so memorably in the 2006 edition. But his burst of speed, physicality and anticipation ensure he can always have a tangible impact on the game.
The onus will be on Silva to give Ronaldo a foil, while Bernardo and Joao Mario will have to create from the wide areas. If the other parts of the attack can do their jobs successfully and Ronaldo flourishes, Portugal can go far.
Portugal’s Group Stage fixtures
Friday, June 15
Wednesday, June 20
Monday, June 25
Portugal’s path to the final
If Portugal wins Group B, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group A which will either be Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If Portugal wins that Round of 16 game, Portugal will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the winner of Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria or Croatia) versus the team that finishes second in Group C (either France, Australia, Peru or Denmark). If Portugal advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the F1 vs. E2 versus H1 vs. G2 series.
If Portugal finishes second in Group B, Portugal will play the team that finishes first in Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay or Egypt). If Portugal wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against whoever is victorious between the winner of Group C (either France, Australia, Peru or Denmark) and the team that finishes second in Group D (either Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria). If Portugal advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the E1 vs. F2 versus G1 vs. H2 series.
Portugal World Cup shirt (home)
The new home jersey salutes the football royalty that is Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. Gold, already present on the team badge, will be woven into the pattern. There is green trim around the collar, and green and red woven strips on the back of the neck. Inside the collar is a pride graphic taken from Portugal’s naval history.
Portugal World Cup shirt (away)
The away jersey is white with green print that mimics the points of a compass. This reflects the country’s history of exploration. There are green and red woven strips on the back of the neck. Inside the collar is a pride graphic taken from Portugal’s naval history.
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