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Tuesday, 19 November 2013 23:40

Portugal player ratings v Sweden

Just when we thought CR7 couldn't get any better

portugal-festa-after-sweden-win.jpgSave a shaky ten-minute spell in the second half, the Seleção proved in Stockholm tonight that they are a superior team to Sweden, and deservedly booked their place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. PortuGOAL gives its player ratings on a memorable night for the national team.

Rui Patrício: 7.5/10
The Portugal number one came into the play-off matches on the back of two high-profile and costly blunders for Portugal (v Israel) and Sporting (v Benfica). He showed his head was in the right place with an excellent save in Friday's match in Lisbon, and his redemption was completed tonight with another absolutely crucial save, stopping Larsson's point-blank shot with a wonderful block, when the score was 0-0. May feel he could have done better with Ibrahivomic's free-kick which squirmed under his body, but his performance tonight dispelled doubts that the Sporting goalkeeper is Portugal's number one.

João Pereira: 7/10
A vast improvement on his nervy performance at the Luz. The Valencia defender, as ever, supported the attack well, firing over a series of dangerous crosses, one of which gave Ronaldo the perfect chance to open the scoring (26'), but CR7 was saving his bullets for later. Remains better going forward than defending, but did not compromise the back four tonight.

Fábio Coentrão: 6/10
Injury prevented Coentrão from producing anything near his best, and eventually led to his substitution early in the second half. Nevertheless, still almost set up the first goal, putting club team-mate Ronaldo clean through with a perfect lay-off (48'), but the captain had strayed marginally offside.

Pepe: 7.5/10
After a disappointing 2012/13 campaign, Pepe's resurgence this season is great news for Portugal, in a position where there is not an abundance of alternatives. The Real Madrid man was close to his best tonight, making a series of timely challenges, getting physical when duty called for it, and using his still considerable speed to sweep up any loose balls in and around the box. Excellent showing.

Bruno Alves: 6.5/10
When competing for high balls on the run the imposing Alves is virtually unbeatable in the air. The same cannot be said when he has to jump from a standing position, and he was at fault for Ibrahimovic's first goal when the tall Swede barely had to jump to nod the corner kick past Patrício into the net. Alves proved in the first leg that he has an excellent partnership with Pepe, but not at his best tonight.

Miguel Veloso: 6/10
Struggled to have much influence on the game, either defensively, when a slip on 49 minutes allowed Ibrahimovic to set up a clear chance for Larsson, or offensively, with his trademark pinpoint passes conspicuous by their absence. With the emergence of William Carvalho, Veloso must know he has to step up his game to keep his place in the side.

Raul Meireles: 5.5/10
Another player whose performance in Sweden tonight was light years away from what he produced in the first leg. Whereas at the Luz his intelligent and incisive passing stood out, he was largely anonymous in the second-leg game. And when he did manage to make the odd interception, his use of the ball was uncharacteristically wayward.

João Moutinho: 8/10
Like Meireles, a very different level of performance from the first leg, but in the inverse direction. Moutinho was magnificent. Not only defensively, where countless vital interceptions (such as crucial robbery of the ball on edge of Portugal 24') kept Sweden's threat to a minimum for most of the match, but especially in acting at the pivot to launch Portugal's attacks. Moutinho combines wonderful speed of thought with precise execution. Ronaldo will rightly get all the plaudits, but the Monaco midfielder's two assists for Ronaldo were truly sublime.

Nani: 5.5/10
Another largely disappointing performance by the Manchester United winger, although as ever he never hid and he also got through a lot of useful defensive work for the Seleção. As the years go by Nani's dithering and often erroneous decision-making shows no significant improvement. Still has talent and skill in abundance, and was involved in some neat intricate passing moves in the first half, but rarely a real threat to the Swedes.

Hugo Almeida: 6/10
A surprise inclusion in the starting XI, most analysts long ago arrived at the conclusion that the "ugly duckling" of the Portugal squad adds little to the Seleção. His penchant for missing gilt-edged chances was again on show, heading wide of a gaping net after being beautifully set up by Ronaldo on 39'. But credit where credit is due. Almeida had already combined well with Ronaldo in the first half, and his pass to pick out Ronaldo for the crucial equalising goal was magnificent.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 10/10
Words are hard to find for a truly astonishing performance. Those lucky enough to witness it will retain it in their memory banks for a long long time. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, could conceivably have scored eight goals, and still found time to provide a pin-perfect assist that Almeida somehow failed to take advantage of. If Ronaldo does not win the Ballon d'Or this year it will be one of the greatest farces in sporting history. And should the Real Madrid man stay injury free and maintain this diabolical form, Portugal can dream of going far in Brazil.


Antunes: 6.5/10
Again showed he is a highly dependable back-up for Coentrão. Solid defensively and dangerous going forward, combining beautifully on one occasion with Ronaldo.

William Carvalho: 6.5/10
It was only a cameo performance, but the 21-year-old gave another demonstration of composure and maturity rarely seen in such a young player. Only a matter of time before he makes the defensive midfield position his own in the Seleção.

Ricardo Costa: -
Brought on to eat up some time and little else.

by Tom Kundert

Comments (13)
Emerging Talent
13 Friday, 22 November 2013 22:04
Its has got to be imperative that Bento uses all remaining friendlies before Brazil 2014 to try out potential starters for the selecao. We need to see more of Bruma, Neto, Antunes, and the increasingly impressive Nelson Oliviera doing well for on loan for Rennes this season on 7 goals one behind Falco. It's time for the next generation to get their chance before the failings of the players in decline end up costing us when it counts.
Poor Nani and Postiga..
12 Friday, 22 November 2013 09:56
There is no doubt that Cristiano is the best in this business. But being a Portgal fan, I am bit worried about the rest of the squad. Ronaldo is scoring but he needs a proper support.

Players playing with CR are not that good enough. I am concerned about Nani and Postiga..

In both these 2 leg playoffs against Sweden, Nani was not that good. He was very slow with the ball. He was struggling to get past his marker. His intension was preety much predictable. I think we need a faster man at that possition. May be Danny (experienced and skillful ) or Bruma (fast and skillful). Nani can play a bit more central role with Moutinho, if he is able to do so...

The team needs a good striker. With Postiga or Almeida it will be difficult for Bento in the WC. They should try with Oliveira or Eder..

There is still long time left for the WC. Bento should start to think about it from now... or the theam will face a serious problem in the WC.
My thoughts on players
11 Thursday, 21 November 2013 15:39
I've actually watched the match three times. I'm most impressed that we didn't fold when our backs are against the wall. We showed resolve that we hadn't before.

My player thoughts;

I may not disagree that Patricio is still our best option, but he has too improve. On the first goal, he has to come off his line. We were playing a much taller team, so any ball in the air in his box, he has to come out and punch it away. Unless the header went right at him, he left himself no chance. On the second goal, he has to stop that. It was to his side. No excuses.

Our back line is set. It does worry me that Coentrao might not have regular playing time leading into the World Cup.
Perreira has always been a concern due to his hot head and defensive abilities. It was also a bit disconcerting seeing him next to the much bigger opponent in the box, waiting for a corner.
Maybe Almeida and others will continue to show well and be available if warranted.

First let me bow down, and give praise to Moutinho. I always questioned his all out ability. Yes a nice to very good player, but not quite a world class player. I take all of that back and apologize. Since with Porto, Moutinho has been great at doing all the things that don't necessarily show up in the stat sheet. He is truly a world class player, that we'll need to be at his best.

The rest of the midfield could use an overhaul. Meireles is a shell of himself. Veloso is what he has always been. We have players that need to be looked at and based on club performance given the chance in Int'l play.

If Nani doesn't start getting regular playing time, he'll need to be replaced. He just not relevant at this point.
I'm hoping that Eder can get back to form and be a factor in Brazil.

What can you say about Cristiano. Yes there was acres of space and he has tremendous speed, but the finishing was superb. The left footed shot was precise, and his placement on the third was perfect.
Best in the world for a while now.
Warren Reis / South Africa
10 Thursday, 21 November 2013 03:01
Tony Coelho
10 Million isn't possible? Difficult yes but look at Uruguay with what they have managed to accomplish with only 3 Million. They have 20 trophies in their cabinate and silenced 200 000 during the 1950 WC in Brazil. Difficult yes...impossible no.
Ronaldo / messi
9 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:19
fred / Canada
Congratulations Boys , , consistency is what we need.
Now everyone is a hero ? No No.
Now is the time to prepare , why Danny is not there instead of Nani , i am sorry to say but every year that goes by he is getting worst , sorry Nani you are out or should be out , Danny where is he ? Against Spain he was the best player , now he came back from injuty and is in great form , why not play the man ? how stupic can Paulo Bento be , well that we all know , but why?
Now Messi and Cristiano , Messi is a talent of 1 in a life time , we have to admit to that he is superb but Cristiano is a gazele running , from another place this man the work rate he has where he came from and what he is ... no one is better .
Now , when i say that i have to say that put ronaldo with the Barcelona team and Messi with the madrid team and for the next 5 years ronaldo will win any competition.
Case closed my friend and the point was made.
Moutinho's great game completely overshadowed
8 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 17:53
The story missed in Ronaldo's immense shadow was how awesome of a match Moutinho had.
World Cup
7 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 16:12
Mark / Guinea-Bissau
Nice to see them qualify. Unfortunately they always under perform in the World Cup. 66 was the year they should have won. They will never win a World Cup, for a nation of 10 million they really out do themselves for being a small nation. A European country has never won a world cup in North and South America. They certainly wont be the first to achieve this.
Having a laugh!.?
6 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:18
Warren Reis / South Africa
Tom you need to control your Sporting bias ! Please ! No chance did Patrico score a 7.5! Both goals he should have done better ! 1 good save will never score a goal keeper at any level a 7.5 ! Let alone one we concedes 2 soft goals!
More thoughts
5 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:17
Man that was one enjoyable and dramatic game last night, it had everything, even the normal stress that comes with watching the Selecao, those few minutes after Sweden scored their second when we were all thinking "Oh shit", lol!!! In the end though those were the only few minutes in the full 180 when Sweden has us truly worried. We were never behind in the tie, dominant for the most part and totally deserve to have won.

I was always confident about this second leg. The Selecao have not lost a competitive match by more than a single goal (i.e 0-1, 1-2) for 20 years now! If you correctly don't include the meaningless 3rd place play-off defeat at WC 2006 (a friendly really), then our last defeat by more than a single goal in a match that matters was way back in 1993. This quite extraordinary statistic was not about to be broken by Sweden, quite simply they're not that good! So I always felt an away goal would settle this tie, and I knew with them pushing forward that their slow back 4 would be exposed by the pace in our attack, and the phenomenon that is CR7. He was incredible, but this was mainly a team effort. Hats off to all of the players.

And let's give some credit to Paulo Bento for this team unity. We've all criticised him, myself included. But when it's mattered the most he's delivered: qualified us for the Euros and to within (literally) an inch of the final, and then qualified us for Brasil (yes via the play-offs but the important thing is that we're there). We've all criticised his insistence on the same starting 11, but in the end it's proven to be the strongest line-up we have. Two of the most criticised, Meireles and Hugo Almeida, both gave important contributions to this play-off win.

I agree more players should be integrated into the team, however I will not criticise Bento's starting 11 anymore, because in the end that starting 11 brought us to Brasil. With 6 months to integrate new players (i.e Carvalho, Adrien, Bruma, Eder, hopefully even Fernando) and experiment with plan B's in friendlies, we will have a very strong squad to take to the WC and will be definite contenders. A team including the world's best CR7, and 3 other world class players: Moutinho, Pepe and Coentrao (and perhaps a 5th should Nani regain his form by then) are definite contenders. It's at the actual tournaments where we normally come alive and this could be the case again next summer.
one man team! so what
4 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 08:28
so what if we r a one man army... he is one of us afterall. and hes not just any world class player... he is a special one... like eusebio... eusebio was also a one man army. what about gerd muller who single handedly won germany the world cup. wat about baggio who carried the whole of italy to the brink of world cup glory in 94'. we may be an average team without ronaldo but then the same can be said about all the other teams as well... wats england without rooney, brazil without neymar, france without ribery, russia without kerzhakov, holland without van persie, etc
Balon d'or
3 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 05:06
balon d'or will be respected if it goes to ronaldo's hand this year
Joao Moutinho
2 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 03:58
Ronaldo certainly deserves all the praise he is getting after his spectacular performance. Talk about stepping up when your country needed you most. The man is the perfect modern day footballer. We Portuguese are blessed to have one of the all time greats representing our nation.

I would, however, like to point out Moutinho who has arguably been our most consistent performer in the Bento era. He is a world-class box-to-box midfielder, a true leader, and a class act. As Tom mentioned, not only made two outstanding assists, but he was also superb without the ball.

Also, even though he continues to miss chance after chance, we have to acknowledge Almeida's overall performance. His hold-up play was fantastic on a number of occasions, and his pass to Ronaldo was excellent.
Ronaldo Balon d'or
1 Wednesday, 20 November 2013 01:21
Kevin D'Agrella
Tom, I agree 100% with you that Ronaldo should win the balon d'or he's the best in the world without a doubt. But this award is a joke, look back at its record of selecting the supposedly best players in the world. Messi has 4 balon d'or and although he's not a bad selection Ronaldo should have won at least one during Messi's run each year the reason for gifting the reward to Messi changes. When Ronaldo beats Messi statistically they point to team trophies saying Messi deserves it based on his teams performances. When Ronaldo wins la liga and Messi is held without a trophy of any circumstance they say look at Messi's individual records. The award is a complete farce. Furthermore, as much as I want to see Ronaldo win his 2nd they'll give it to Ribery and talk about all the trophies Bayern Munich won. We all know Ribery isn't even good enough to shine Ronaldo's boots but we aren't the ones deciding who wins the balon d'or.

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