Euro 2020 profile: Portugal ready for a repeat?

by | Jun 9, 2021 14:09 | Editorial, Euro 2020

15 June – Hungary (5pm GMT, Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Budapest)

19 June – Germany (5pm GMT, Allianz Arena, Munich)

23 June – France (8pm GMT, Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Budapest)

The reigning European champions are back and better than before, looking to retain the title they claimed in dramatic fashion back in 2016, Elio Salerno writes…

Ronaldo raring to go

Portugal arrive at Euro 2020 with very different expectations in comparison to when they landed in France five years ago for Euro 2016. Last time around they stumbled uninspiringly through the group stages before shocking the football world by going on to beat hosts France in the final, courtesy of a memorable extra-time winner from Eder. The Selecao weren’t one of the hot pre-tournaments favourites then but on this occasion, they return to this summer’s edition packed with exciting talent.

No longer dark horses, in the last few years Portugal coach Fernando Santos has been able to build on the defensive discipline he has instilled in the side. Santos’ pragmatic approach saw them crowned kings last time around, and grinding out wins and keeping clean sheets has been a feature of his time in charge.

Santos’ side remain tough to beat, but the former Greece manager now has more quality at his disposal than in his first couple of years in charge. To accompany Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal now have the likes of Joao Cancelo, Bernado Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias and Diogo Jota to call on. With back-up options available such as Joao Felix, Pepe, Reuben Neves, Renato Sanches, Pedro Goncalves and Andre Silva – many of who have been in top form this season and offer a mix of youth and experience – it is no surprise that many are tipping Portugal to go all the way again.

Santos now has options at his disposal and with that comes flexibility, allowing him to move away from his favored 4-3-3 if the moment requires him to. There is no longer a reliance on their No 7 but instead a belief that with the individuals not only in their starting XI but in the squad, Portugal are capable of beating any opponent, as a consequence of being able to win games in a variety of ways.

Portugal have been drawn in Group F alongside fellow giants Germany and France, with Hungary completing the set. For the neutral it promises to be a fascinating group to watch but for Ronaldo and co, it couldn’t be more challenging at this early stage. However, with the winning mentality of this Portugal team they will have no doubt that they will be one of the two sides that move into the business end of the tournament.

There is a nice blend of youth and experience to Portugal, they would be disappointed not reach the last four as a minimum. Lead by Ronaldo – who will most likely be appearing in his last European Championship – there will be a determination to become only the second team ever to win consecutive Euro titles. Comfortable defending and suffering without the ball, but importantly with fire power to score at any moment, Portugal are a dangerous prospect.

The international game isn’t always about fluid football, and both Portugal and more recently France have proven that in recent times. Teams that understand how to stay in games, give little away but punish their opponents will surely do well and if that is the case, Portugal are certainly more than equipped to succeed.

Coach: Fernando Santos — Appointed in September 2014, Santos has steered Portugal through a period of success. Following their first major tournament victory in 2016, Santos and Portugal then went onto win the inaugural UEFA Nations league tournament in 2019.

Preferred XI: Rui Patricio; Cancelo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro; B.Fernandes, Danilo Prereira, Moutinho; B.Silva, Ronaldo, Jota.

Portugal prefer to deploy a 4-3-3 formation, containing an attack with bags of creativity and goals. There is plenty of depth in the squad with players capable of slotting straight into the starting XI or making an impact during games

Look out for: Cristiano Ronaldo automatically gets the attention but he has a special supporting cast. A couple of alternative names to keep an eye on are the likes of Renato Sanches, Sergio Oliveira, Nuno Mendes and Andre Silva all of whom have had superb domestic campaigns.

Portugal Euro 2020 squad

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)

Defenders: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Jose Fonte (LOSC Lille), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Pepe (Porto), Nelson Semedo (Wolves)

Midfielders: William Carvalho (Real Betis), Danilo (Paris), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Reben Neves (Wolves), Sergio Oliveira (Porto), Joao Palhinha (Sporting CP), Pote (Sporting CP), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards: Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Rafa Silva (Benfica)

Portugal versus…

…Hungary P 13 W 9 D 4 L 0 F 30 A 10

…Germany P 18 W 3 D 5 L 10 F 16 A 29

…France P 27 W 6 D 2 L 19 F 29 A 51

Stats

Population: 10.2m

Nickname: A Selecao, Os Navegadores

Top Division: Primeira Liga

FIFA World Ranking: 5

International honours: European Championship (2016), UEFA Nations League (2019)

Most capped player: Cristiano Ronaldo (174)

Leading international scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (103)

Portugal at the European Championships:

1960 – Did not qualify

1964 – Did not qualify

1968Did not qualify

1972 – Did not qualify

1976 – Did not qualify

1980 – Did not qualify

1984 – Semi-Final

1988 – Did not qualify

1992 – Did not qualify

1996 – Quarter-Final

2000 – Semi-Final

2004 – Runners-up

2008 – Quarter-Final

2012 – Semi-Final

2016 – Champions

How they got to Euro 2020: Portugal managed five wins from seven games in qualifying group B, progressing to the finals by finishing second behind Ukraine.

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