Much like neighbours Spain, Portugal crashed out of the previous world cup in the group stages. However, unlike Spain, Portugal made up for the early exit by winning the 2016 European Championships in 2016. Out of the starting 11 from that squad, only Nani and Renato Sanches are to miss out.
This is likely Ronaldo’s last chance at the only competition in world football he’s never won. Although Portugal is certainly an underdog going into June, Ronaldo will still expect to finally bring his league form to the international stage. A strong World cup will cement his legacy as the greatest player of all time.
So far, Ronaldo has a dismal World Cup record, having only scored a single goal in each of his three appearances.
Portugal Squad Outlook
Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio; Antunes, Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, Joao Cancelo, Jose Fonte, Luis Neto, Mario Rui, Nelson Semedo, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira, Rolando, Ruben Dias; Adrien Silva, Andre Gomes, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Sergio Oliveira, William Carvalho; Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eder, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Nani, Paulinho, Ricardo Quaresma; Ronny Lopes
Squad Talk: The Portuguese squad is dripping with top-class players from top to bottom. For many of the squad, this is the last opportunity they’ll have at winning the World Cup. With Pepe (35), Rui Patricio (30), Joao Moutinho (31), Nani (31) and, of course, all-time record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo (33), all on the wrong side of 30.
In all Fairness to Manager, Santos, he’s shown a lot of loyalty to the Portuguese old guard. Whilst at the same time he’s managed to bring through a lot of youth with the likes of Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Raphael Guerreiro and Andre Silva are on becoming integral parts of the national teams future.
We all know Cristiano Ronaldo is the star of the show. The Real Madrid superstar is now as synonymous with football as the likes of David Beckham, Pele & (Luis) Ronaldo. Ronaldo is coming off of a La Liga season where his domination since the turn of the year left him with 44 goals in 43 games (all comps).
He may be the wrong side of 30 but Cristiano might well be the best player at the tournament, let alone Portugal.
Goncalo Guedes is by far the most sensational Portugal player not named Ronaldo. Currently, on-loan at Valencia from PSG the 21-year old’s performances have already cemented his fate as one of the World’s most excited youngsters. Guedes possesses; unbelievable speed, trickery & intelligence which have allowed him to exploit opposition fullbacks all season long in Spain.
Goncalo, for me, has immense ability to create chances for himself and those around him. He plays with the maturity of a 28-year old, not a youngster.
Working alongside Ronaldo and potentially Andre Silva in attack, he can be another creative force for this team in Russia.
King of the Country
Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo may have claimed this crown over the years. None have been as influential as former Captain, Galactico and Catalan Luis Figo. Figo was not only one of the greatest footballers in Portuguese history, he’s also one of the greatest midfielders the game has ever seen.
Figo started off as a youth prodigy for Sporting CP in Portugal winning multiple youth championships. Before long he was being courted by the biggest clubs in Europe.
He played for some of the biggest clubs in the world like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan and helped them win major trophies and was one of the earliest members of the team of ‘Galacticos’ at Real Madrid.
Luis Figo was also the leading member of the Portuguese national team and was the part of the ‘Golden Generation’ of the national team as they became a team that was feared by everyone. Figo led the team to its best-ever finish in the World Cup by finishing third in the World Cup in Germany in 2006, where he secured his place in history as a Portuguese football king.
Who’s the Gaffa
2 years have passed since Fernando Santos did the impossible with underdogs Portugal. Santos first unleashed his out-dated, dinosaur approach to football during an ill-fated 4-year spell as manager of the Greek National team. The 61-year-old Lisbon native has become something of an international antagonist, delivering results by the most brutal means possible.
When in charge of Greece, to say fans were sceptical would be an understatement. Despite being awarded Greece Superleague Manager of the Decade prize in 2010, he’d not actually put any silverware away since the 1988 season.
As expected for Greece, 4-years of defensive bus-parking soon ensued. Although his results were okay, the performances of the team would be enough to drive you insane. Although to be fair to Santos he did guide Greece to knockout stages at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup before guiding the Portugal national team to victory at Euro 2016.
Portugal will once again go under the radar. I see them qualifying from the group with a 1st place finish.
It wouldn’t be surprised to see Ronaldo and co win the big one this year. Infact that’s exactly what I think they’ll get close to doing. My prediction is that Portugal will make the World Cup Final
Lazy Fan Fact:
The Portuguese flag is mainly two colours: green and red. The green is said to represent the hope of the Portuguese people, while the red symbolizes the blood of those that have died in service to the nation.