Fernando Santos has named the Portugal squad for next week’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary in Lisbon and the friendly against Sweden in Madeira.
There were no surprises in the announcement, with the injured Sporting captain Adrien Silva and Valencia forward Nani the only names missing from the group of players that have contested the qualifiers so far.
The Seleção have been playing catch-up in Group B since losing the opening match of the qualifying campaign to Switzerland.
The Swiss have a 100% winning record in four matches, and with only the top team in the group qualifying automatically for Russia 2018, victory for Portugal against Hungary at the Estádio da Luz on 25 March is crucial.
Euro 2016 rematch
It is a rematch of the memorable 2016 Euro encounter that ended Portugal 3-3 Hungary. “We’ll have to rectify what happened in that tremendous game at the Euros,” warned Santos. “I expect a Hungary team similar to that match. I don’t expect Hungary to come here looking for a point. I expect a team that likes to have the ball at their feet and that defend well.”
The Seleção manager said he is counting on the support of the home fans to spur the team on. “Around 2,000 Hungary supporters will be in attendance. I believe the fantastic support we saw at the Euros will be repeated and we’ll have a full Estádio da Luz.”
Asked about the inclusion of Renatos Sanches despite having very little playing time at Bayern Munich, Santos replied: “He’s been called up regularly to the Bayern squad, and he’s played, so that’s good enough for me.”
Santos also made of point of congratulating the Portuguese protagonists who contributed to Monaco’s sensational Champions League victory over Manchester City yesterday. “I sent my congratulations to my friend Leonardo (Jardim). What happened is a reflection of the quality of João Moutinho and Bernardo Silva.”
After the Hungary match on Saturday week, the Seleção travel to Madeira where they will play Sweden on Tuesday 28 March.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Marafona (Braga)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Cagliari), Cédric Soares (Southampton), Eliseu (Benfica), Nélson Semedo (Benfica), João Cancelo (Valencia), José Fonte (West Ham), Luís Neto (Zenit), Pepe (Real Madrid), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Midfielders: André Gomes (Barcelona), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), João Mário (Inter), João Moutinho (Monaco), Pizzi (SL Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern), William Carvalho (Sporting)
Forwards: André Silva (FC Porto), Bernardo Silva (Monaco), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Éder (Lille), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)
By Tom Kundert