The qualification course and the group:
Chaotic. That is how you can describe the qualification course of Portugal, very near turning right into a fiasco. Positioned in group A of the Europe zone alongside Serbia, Eire, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, the Seleção had all of the playing cards in hand to qualify comfortably for this 2022 World Cup, scheduled for Qatar. Nevertheless, a remaining loss, at house, in opposition to Serbia (2-1) in November 2021 condemned Fernando Santos’ band to the play-offs. Near horrible disillusion, Cristiano Ronaldo’s teammates lastly eradicated Turkey (3-1) earlier than getting the higher of North Macedonia (2-0), executioner of Italy. In an Estadio do Dragao in Porto in fusion, the 2016 European champions received their place for this World Cup. Positioned in group H, the Portuguese will discover Ghana (November 24), Uruguay (November 28) and South Korea (December 2).
The strengths and weaknesses
“Portugal is a workforce that performs very nicely, which isn’t the identical as taking part in a superb recreation. Enjoying nicely means scoring objectives with out conceding. That is the key of this choice. These phrases are these of Fernando Santos, the coach of Portugal, and so they alone sum up the strengths and weaknesses of this Seleção. Counting on a greater than environment friendly defensive base, this Portuguese formation generally struggles to be enticing across the opposing floor. Providing a recreation that’s nonetheless removed from thrilling, Portugal additionally discover themselves at a crossroads with a glowing pool and an ageing however typically untouchable Cristiano Ronaldo. Leaving his 4-1-4-1 for a 4-3-3 because the defeat in opposition to Serbia (1-2), the Portuguese tactician appears, in the meantime, to have discovered an attention-grabbing components. Extra compact within the midfield, the Seleção thus finds higher transitions between its protection and its three attacking males. Consequently, Portugal might be happy with having discovered the web 16 instances within the final 8 matches. All whereas conceding solely 4 objectives. It now stays to substantiate this good momentum on this small peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf.
Coach: Fernando Santos
A title at Euro 2016, the primary within the historical past of the Portuguese choice. A brand new coronation, in 2019, on the event of the primary version of the League of Nations. Sure, the course of Fernando Santos on the head of Portugal is, till now, greater than convincing. Not less than from an accounting perspective. Arrived to basic shock on the bench of the Seleção in September 2014, to succeed Paulo Bento, the one who had taken Greece to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 earlier than going out with the Greek workforce within the spherical of 16 of the The 2014 World Cup is certainly the topic of a lot criticism. A reluctance expressed by many observers, regardless of a stability sheet largely to the benefit of the 67-year-old technician. With 103 matches on the head of the Portuguese formation – a small feat since there are solely 23 different coaches within the historical past of soccer to have reached this milestone of 100 matches with the identical nationwide workforce – Fernando Santos can, at present at present, boasting a advantageous statistical line with 64 wins, 21 attracts and 18 defeats. Nevertheless, past the purely quantified side and the prize checklist which already offers him a particular place within the hearts of Portuguese supporters and within the historical past of this choice, the child from Lisbon continues to make folks discuss.
Carried by an unimaginable breeding floor (Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho, João Cancelo, João Felix, Ruben Dias, Ruben Neves, Vitinha, Diogo Jota, Florentino Luis, Diogo Leite, Fábio Silva) surrounding the fivefold Golden Ball, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos is struggling to impose his type on the world stage. The performances achieved by Portugal over the last World Cup in Russia (eradicated within the spherical of 16 in opposition to Uruguay, regardless of a stable squad on paper) but in addition over the last Euro (eradicated within the spherical of 16 by Belgium after leaving the “group of dying” within the firm of France, Germany and Hungary) confirmed this unlucky pattern: a disappointing stage of play, outcomes at half mast, and this regardless of a workforce greater than gifted. Doubled on the gong by Spain within the race for the Last 4 of the 2023 Nations League, Fernando Santos has, regardless of all the things, been in a position to reinvent himself on many events. If the Portuguese engineer has definitely proven sufficient freshness to query himself in current weeks, he’s nonetheless cautious as a result of one other disappointing efficiency in Qatar this winter may nicely spell the top of his reign on the head of this Seleção.
Star to look at: Cristiano Ronaldo
Confined to the bench of substitutes and near the exit on the facet of Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo additionally lives difficult hours in choice so inevitably all eyes can be turned in direction of the fivefold Ballon d’Or. With 191 choices to his credit score (117 objectives), the previous striker for Juventus Turin and Actual Madrid will essentially be eager to shine, what’s extra in essentially the most prestigious of competitions. Annoyed after his false begin over the last summer time switch window and missing membership taking part in time, CR7 however stays part of the Portuguese choice. Nevertheless, this govt standing doesn’t appear to be absolutely unanimous among the many basic public. Within the Portuguese media, the omnipresence of Ronaldo is beginning to cringe, to the purpose that the star of world soccer now appears to be dropping credit score. In Bola identified, furthermore, on this respect, “a decreased quantity of play” and “a declining aim proportion”. Worse nonetheless, a current ballot carried out by the Portuguese each day revealed that 57% of supporters wished to see him begin on the bench in opposition to Spain on the final day of the group stage of the League of Nations. Mistrust all the identical as a result of if the Mancunian star not appears to be unanimous, CR7 stays CR7 and an awakening in Qatar may change all the things. The World Cup to relaunch the Portuguese season? Reply in a number of days…
The attraction: Nuno Mendes
Portugal have an inexhaustible reservoir of up-and-coming expertise and Nuno Mendes is undoubtedly one among them. Holder at Paris Saint-Germain because the begin of the season, this 20-year-old left-back can be step by step establishing itself as an vital factor of this Seleção. In competitors with Raphaël Guerreiro for a beginning place at this World Cup, this pure product of the Leões coaching middle will subsequently logically be one of many sights in Qatar. Very quick, explosive, highly effective in duels, he likes to swallow up house to assault and provide good balls to his attackers. His left foot, very exact, additionally permits him to maintain the ball nicely underneath stress and ship caviar. Defensively, the younger man, who has the identical consultant as his teammate Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), is just not clumsy, particularly in a single in opposition to one. Nevertheless, he nonetheless wants to enhance on placement and focus. One factor is for certain, this World Cup is a golden alternative for him to realize expertise and take a brand new step in his younger profession.
The checklist of 26:
Guardians: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), José Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Rui Patrício (AS Roma).
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), João Cancelo (Manchester Metropolis), Danilo Pereira (PSG), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Dias (Manchester Metropolis), António Silva (SL Benfica), Nuno Mendes (PSG), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund).
Environments : João Palhinha (Fulham FC), Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Bernardo Silva (Manchester Metropolis), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Mário (SL Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Otávio Monteiro (FC Porto) , Vitinha (PSG), William Carvalho (Actual Betis).
Forwards: André Silva (RB Leipzig), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Gonçalo Ramos (SL Benfica), João Félix (Atlético Madrid), Rafael Leão (AC Milan), Ricardo Horta (SC Braga).