We continue with our “Team Talks” for the FIFA World Cup 2018. In the first part of Group B team talks, let us take a look at 2016 Euro Cup Champions Portugal.
Team : PORTUGAL
Coach: Fernando Santos
Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
Nickname(s): A Seleção das Quinas
Last Qualified in: 2014
Result in 2014: Eliminated in the Group Stages (18th overall)
Qualified as: UEFA Group B Winners (10 October 2017)
Previous World Cup Appearances: (6 Times) 1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014.
Best World Cup Finals Result: Third Place in 1966.
Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio, Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Mario Rui, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira, Ruben Dias, Adrien Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, William Carvalho, Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma.
1) Rui Patricio:
The Best Goalkeeper of the 2016 Euro Cup, which Portugal won for the first time in their history, will once again have the responsibility of keeping the goal for Portugal. The Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper has been the Portugal number one for 68 matches since 2010. Having played 2 Euro Cups and 1 World Cup before, the 30-year old is no stranger to the big stage. And he will be very crucial for this side.
2) Raphael Guerreiro:
The Borussia Dortmund left back was instrumental in Portgual’s UEFA Euro 2016 triumph as well as Dortmund’s 2017 DFB Pokal win. But a string of injuries has restricted the wonderful talent to play fewer games last season. He will still surely be one of the most important players for Fernando Santos’s side in Russia. The 24-year old is a wonderful passer of the ball and also a regular at finding the back of the net.
3) Joao Moutinho:
The AS Monaco midfielder is Portugal’s 5th highest capped player ever with 108 caps. Having made over 150 appearances for both Sporting CP and AS Monaco, the 31-year old has been one of the most consistent players for the Portugal national team over the years. He will be once again be called upon to provide leadership and experience at the centre of the park in Russia.
4) Bernardo Silva:
The 23-year old midfielder was a driving force behind Manchester City’s record breaking Premier League win. The former AS Monaco man has blossomed into a world class talent under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. The crafty midfielder, who moved to City last summer for £43.5 million, is going to be Fernando Santos’ main man at the centre of the park.
5) Andre Silva:
The 22-year old was tipped to be the next big thing in Portuguese football a year back. But a disaster of a debut season for Italian Giants AC Milan, has raised many a questions over his potential. But Silva has has always been pretty decent upfront in his national colours, scoring 12 in 21 games. The new Portuguese number 9 will thus be one of the main men for A Selecção in front of the goal and will look to silence his critics once and for all.
6) Cristiano Ronaldo:
Undoubtedly the main man for the Portuguese will be the 5-times FIFA World Player of the year. The skipper will be leading the lines alongside youngster Andre Silva, and will be looking to recreate some of his UEFA Champions League form, from this season. Fans all across the world will hope that the best player in the world produces his magic once again and leads Portugal to glory. CR7 is both the highest capped player and the top goal scorer in Portuguese football history. This will most likely be his last World Cup.
The Portugal National Team have been in very good form in the past year. In their last 18 international matches they have won 12 times, while losing and drawing 3-times each. However, they have drawn one and lost one in their last two matches. Their last win came against Egypt in a March friendly.
Portugal have been drawn in Group B alongside Spain, Iran and Morocco. They will play Spain in their opening match on 15th of June, followed by Morocco and Iran on 20th and 25th June respectively.
Drawn in a group with 2010 Champions Spain, Morocco and Iran (both of whom are capable of upsets), Portugal are favourites to progress from Group B. In the first knockout-round, a possible encounter with Egypt or Uruguay is imminent, and Portugal will still be the favourites to progress beyond the round of 16.
Portugal scripted arguably the greatest comeback in the history of FIFA World Cup. In the 1966 Quarter Final match against North Korea, Portugal trailed by 0-3 after just 25 minutes. Superstar Eusebio then inspired the then world cup debutantes to win 5-3, by scoring 4 goals, with Jose Augusto scoring the 5th.
How far do you think Portugal will progress in this World Cup? Comment below!