Portugal, despite being a giant of World football – have struggled of late. They eeked through qualifying, playing poorly in a group that consisted of Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Isreal and Luxembourg. However, when it comes to the big events, they seem to step up. Here is their 23 man squad:
GK’s: Beto, Eduardo, Rui Patricio
DF’s: Andre Almeida, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentreo, Joao Pereira, Neto, Pepe, Ricardo Costa
MF’s: Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Ruben Amorim, William Carvalho
FW’s: Cristiano Ronaldo, Eder, Helder Postiga, Hugo Almeida, Nani, Rafa, Varela, Vieirinha
Coach – Paulo Bento
Missing: Danny (Zenit) is a notable absentee, performing well for his club side. Big surprise!
As mentioned, Portugal struggled in a very poor group. Eventually they fell into the playoffs and faced Sweden over two legs in late November. They won the first leg 1-0, and the 2nd 3-2 – all 4 goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. They enter the World Cup with a tough group – Germany, USA and Ghana!
Ones to Watch:
William Carvalho – the attacking midfielder has been in scorching form for Lisbon, leading to heavy rumours about a £30m plus move to Man Utd. With Miguel Veloso not in the greatest of form and fitness, you could well see Carvalho replace him and sit in a midfield containing Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles.
Fabio Coentreo – At Real Madrid, he is often wasted. Paulo Bento seems to know how to get the best from him, with the left back being one of the most dangerous defenders in the game. He will surely star for the Portuguese this summer, given freedom he needs!
Joao Moutinho – The Monaco man is a vital cog in this Portugal team, sitting a little further forward that Meireles and Veloso (Although I think Carvalho will start instead of the latter) – he may be required to sit deeper and protect the defence. Either way – a classy player and important to the chances of his national team.
(4-2-3-1/4-3-3): Patricio, Perreira, Alves, Pepe, Coentreo, Moutinho, Meireles, Carvalho, Ronaldo, Postiga, Nani.
A very strong looking 11, but a few questions to be asked. Pepe is not a nailed on starter, but there is not a lot better than him to pick from. We have discussed the Carvalho/Veloso conundrum, and we also feel Nani will start over some of the less experienced players like Varela or Rafa. Tactics wise – they may stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that served them well against Sweden. Their old 4-3-3 formation saw them struggle to break down defensive teams who set out to contain, so we may see a more gung-ho Portugal, which is always good.
Winner – 25/1
Group Winner – 11/4
To Qualify – 4/9
Over 5.5 Group Points – Evens
Stage of Elimination: RO16 – 9/5 / QF – 3/1
Portugal should qualify from the group – and when they are expected to struggle it can be when they are at their most dangerous. With Ghana and USA as well as Germany, people are questioning them. We fancy Over 5.5 Group Points at Evens and particular value is Portugal to Qualify at 4/9 – those two are our Top Tips!