Portugal coach Fernando Santos has named a 24-man squad for Portugal's Euro 2016 home qualifier against Serbia on 29 March. 

Belenenses goalkeeper Hugo Ventura gets his first call-up to the Seleção, Hugo Almeida, Antunes and Eliseu are all recalled while Adrien Silva, Raphael Guerreiro, Tiago Gomes, Beto and Hélder Postiga are the players who make way for the newcomers in relation to the previous Seleção squad in November.

Portugal play Cape Verde in a friendly two days after the Serbia match, but Santos explained that the same players will not be used. "On Monday I will announce another squad list with 10 or 11 new players for the Cape Verde game."

As for the clash against Serbia, Santos was at pains to emphasize the importance of the fixture. "Everyone should realise the importance of this game. For a team that has just one point [Serbia] this is an absolutely crucial match. We expect Serbia to come here and try to win the match. I know the problems they can cause us and also their weaknesses, which I shall share with the players." 

Qualification on track 

Despite not missing a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, Portugal have often struggled in the qualification phase. After a shock defeat at home to Albania, a result that cost Paulo Bento his job as the Seleção coach, it appeared it would be a familiar story.

But the appointment of Santos brought about an immediate recovery, with narrow wins against Denmark (away) and Armenia (home) lifting Portugal to second in Group I, one point behind leaders Denmark with a game in hand. When both Serbia and Albania were docked points after the infamous drone incident triggered chaotic scenes and the abandonment of their match in Belgrade, Portugal's position was further strengthened.

With the top two nations qualifying directly, a win for Portugal in Lisbon on Sunday week will leave the team well placed to qualify without the need for a play-off, which is allocated to the third-placed team. The Seleção have required a play-off to qualify for the last three tournaments. 

Portugal are likely to be without coach Santos in the Estádio da Luz dugout. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce the result of his appeal against an eight-match ban on Monday. The ban, imposed after abusing the referee as the Greece manager in the game against Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup, is expected to be upheld but reduced. 

Full squad

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Ventura (Belenenses) 

Defenders: Bosingwa (Trabzonspor), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Cédric (Sporting), José Fonte (Southampton), Pepe (Real Madrid), Antunes (Dinamo Kiev), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Eliseu (Benfica)  

Midfielders: João Mário (Sporting), William Carvalho (Sporting), André Gomes (Valencia), João Moutinho (Monaco), Tiago (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit), Éder (Braga), Nani (Sporting), Ricardo Quaresma (FC Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Hugo Almeida (Kuban Krasnodar)

by Tom Kundert

 

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  • Pretty good squad in my opinion. I think Daniel Carrico deserves a call up to take over some of the defensive transition with the center backs getting older. Of course Paulo Oliveira is gonna be there eventually but he is very young so has time, but Carrico is in his prime now 26 years old and would bring good quality depth/alternatives to the defensive strength of the team for now and years to come.

    I still think Adrien is deserves to be there too, but I understand his absence is reasonable since Portugal already have a overload of number 8 players now. And Andre Gomes is doing well in Valencia now so gotta give him props for that and I think he and Adrien are in direct competition for a call up spot, its either one or the other so can't have it all maybe.

    For me my starting midfield trio would be Joao Mario, William, Moutinho

    And lastly I agree with Chris, in my opinion Eder is a good striker and brings value to the national team. I think he wasn't able to be eased in to the team properly and had to just be thrown into the fire without much proper pre-knockout competition practice to give him and the others time to gel, and that made it difficult. But Eder when utilized right is a good striker. He's been good for Braga for a while now, and I too think once he gets off and running he'll be good for the team.

    from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
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  • Guest - johnieooooo

    --------------------Lopes-------------------
    Cedric-----Pepe----Carvalho----Coentrao
    ------------------William-------------------
    ------Moutinho----------------Tiago------
    ------------------Mario------------------
    Ronaldo----------------------------Nani

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  • Guest - Mike

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I feel if santos does the right thing and starts lopes over patricio, portugal will be a way better team with a top class goalkeeper in the back it will give the team a lot more confidence and we will look a lot better and fearful

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  • Thanks for the backup Edward! Internet high 5!

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  • Chris no probs bro! Internet Hi 5 haha! I don't understand how people can hate on Eder, the guy is a pure rags to riches story, he's got a great personality humble and very hard working. And in terms of characteristics he's got everything you would want in a leading the line finishing striker. He wouldn't have scored goals like this and played so well for Braga if he didn't have the ability. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0rW1xu0apg I think its just that because he hasn't played for Portugal youth teams as well he wasn't settled. He's comfortable in Braga but hasn't been comfortable yet for the national team, but after they gel he should be able to help us a lot.

    One other thing too is at least he has the guts to play the position and own up completely. Too many other Portuguese players I think who have the potential and characteristics to be strikers shy away from the position. Why..who knows. Certain players like Silvestre Varela, Vaz Te, Bebe all should have been out and out strikers. You can't be playing as a winger all season and then expect to play as a striker just in periods for the national team. Eder has guts and heart and he does have ability as well so eventually it should all click.

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  • To build on what Edward is saying:

    Let's do a quick analysis. How is it that the Seleccao has not had an effective striker since Pauleta? Is it just that there is no talent or is it something else?

    Under Queiroz, the striker role was neglected. The team was about all defense, all the time. He built a team based around the approach of counter attacks. In counter attacking situations, Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida are ineffective due to their lack of pace. There are no real crosses or possession based tiki taka plays. Whoever is fastest gets the scoring chances. So Nani and Ronaldo became the key scorers.

    Under Bento, who had the tactical acumen of a water buffalo, the team motto became "pass it to Cristiano". So, if the stroker got the ball in the area? Pass it to Cristiano. Bento created a system of over reliance on the talisman. His other mistake was making Ronaldo the seleccao captain. Basically, the striker in this system became another warm body. Now, Postiga did ok and scored a few goals, and Almeida was still useless (because he sucks). But Eder was also victim to this stupid tactical approach. He was made to be the key in link up plat. And you know what? He was damn good. He created a lot of chances for teammates.

    Eder needs a chance to prove himself. Hopefully he can replicate his club form at the seleccao level. He deserves a chance especially under a new coach. But the system and tactics need to change as well.

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  • My concern is for the substitutes. The back line has some aging players and if we are as pressured as I predict, will require fresh legs to maintain our defense. This will reduce the front line options, and if things aren't going our way, forward subs will put strain on the back line to hold out the entire match. Quaresma has been excellent off the bench for the Selecao recently, I think he deserves play time, if the striker issue still happens, well, there's two changes, that leaves only defender to rest. I'm hoping that the age of the defense brings wisdom with it, and brain can be used over brawn to reserve energy. I am also excited with the inclusion of Tiago as he has been looking great at Atletico lately. I think its all going to come down to our midfield, the feeders to the front, the first line of defense to the back.

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    "Why Eder should Start and why Carlos Queiroz was the worst selecao coach ever!" (mini rant)

    I wanted to expand on what Chris/Eddie were saying here. I also believe Eder has not been given a fair shake yet. He has 16 games so far for the selecao and 0 goals. However those are not starts, he often comes in late or when the team is down. His problem is he seems star-struck and overwhelmed on the big stage. This can be corrected. What CANT be corrected are players who simply aren't good enough (Nelson O, Hugo Almeida).

    Lets to back to the brain-fart coach, Carlos Queiroz who had at his disposal almost the exact same squad as Bento except he had Tiago and Quaresma. So what did he do with the best attacking player on the planet and the best player since "O fenomeno" Ronaldo Lima? Why he did what his tiny brain and massive ego told him to do, he played DEFENSIVE! Real smart right?

    If the goal of every successful coach is to maximize strength and minimize weakness, Carlos Q got it all wrong and he failed completely. Not only professionally but personally with all the players. It wasn't enough to shit on the tradition of beautiful attacking football Portugal has always player, he also alienated every player on his squad. Culminating with Ronaldo spitting at the camera and barking at reporters to "ask the coach" when they asked him WHY were they playing to cautiously. Portugal, under Querioz (the great goat) played "not to lose" and when you play like that you do exactly that, LOSE!

    Back to Eder.

    Lets be honest now. Forget young, inexperienced, future stars for now. Portugal are going into a game v Serbia which is most likely the most important match for us. Who do you take? It really comes down to 3 options.

    Eder, Bebe or a false 9 setup with the very talented Danny.

    Bebe, who I LOVE btw, is simply not ready yet. He almost stole the scoring title while playing for Pacos yes, but that was almost like playing on a team with 0 expectations. He hasn't exactly been lighting it up at Cordoba. Now he IS being deployed as a winger there and they are a very weak team playing in the toughest league. Bebe has tremendous talent and promise but he is not ready imo.

    Eder has not scored yet, that is fact. He does however create space with his pace and strength and he is impossible to knock off the ball. He is a great player to start the game with as he wont be pushed around like Nani and Danny will. Danny can come on or play v the squads with less robust mids and defenders.

    This also gives the coach a lot of options off the bench with the super sub Quaresma (who has shown he can destroy tired legs with his pin point passes and creates havoc with his chaotic dribbles).

    Eder is the best choice at CF. Given the options right now and the demand of the current games. He is the man to go with. Fernando Santos will deploy the false 9 (CR7-Danny-Nani) or he goes (CR7-Eder-Nani) for the size and strength.

    Don't throw Eder under the bus, he has don't nothing but give 150% every game, there is no denying that. he isn't a Nelson O who gives 46% and kicks the ball into the stands and ignores wide open team mates. He also isn't a Hugo Almeida who manages to miss the net when you think its physically impossible to do so.

    Eder can come through and all he needs is that 1 goal for the confidence to hit and the flood gates to open.

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Totally agree with you Val! Great comment! Even in the part about Bebe I'm with you too. Andre/UK from your comment on the article Lowdown on Portugal's Opponents Serbia, see Val's comment.

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  • Guest - grobar

    SRBIJAÁ CCCCCCCCCCCCC

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