In the latest round of international duty call-ups, Fernando Santos was obligated to make some surprising adjustments to the Seleção squad that competed in the Confederations Cup over the summer. The absence of key players has extended a rare opportunity to several familiar faces ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Faroe Islands and Hungary.

Meanwhile, Rui Jorge once again completed the unenviable task of choosing the right combination of young prodigies to face Wales in the opening match of U21 Euro 2019 qualification.

Although injuries and a suspension to Nélson Semedo made it no surprise that there would be changes, the sight of Nélson Oliveira's name on the squad sheet surely must have caught some Portugal fans off-guard. With Euro 2016 hero Eder yet to feature for Lokomotiv Moscow (on loan from Lille) and Nani out for Valencia with nagging injuries, the Norwich City forward will back-up strike duo Cristiano Ronaldo and André Silva. To his credit, Nelson has already scored three goals in four matches in the English Championship this season.

The usual cast of characters in midfield were once again selected although several quandaries still exist concerning their merit. It is unlikely that the decision to include André Gomes over Bruno Fernandes will have won many supporters especially since the early phases of the 22 year old playmaker's tenure at Sporting have been marked with such explosive displays.

There had also been rumblings from the East regarding the credentials of the long-since forgotten Manuel Fernandes, who is in a class of his own in the Russian Premier Liga. From his central midfield role, Fernandes has already accumulated three goals and three assists in only eight matches so far this term. His talent notwithstanding, the 31 year old once again missed out and has only ever featured nine times for Portugal.

Otherwise, the return of João Mário will be welcomed although his utilization at Inter Milan has yet to reflect his on-pitch contributions. The former Sporting playmaker only featured for 26 minutes of the 3-0 victory over Fiorentina last Sunday and marked his impressive cameo with an assist for Ivan Perisic's late goal.

Finally, Portugal's need to replace its centrebacks will have to wait. Several key moves involving CBs were completed this summer including Ruben Semedo to Villareal and Edgar Ie to Lille, but Santos clearly felt the time was not right to draft replacements for Pepe and José Fonte. Even Luis Neto was omitted possibly because he has not featured as prominently for Zenit compared to season's past. Meanwhile, Fabio Coentrão will attempt to regain his long-lost position at left back in the absence of the injured Raphael Guerreiro.

In press conferences, Santos confidently stated that Portugal would win out and settle the matter with Switzerland in the climactic Group B encounter against the current group leaders at the Estádio da Luz on 10 October.

U21 side set to begin qualifying

After this summer's disappointing U21 Euro campaign, Rui Jorge has once again selected Euro 2016 champion Renato Sanches in his squad for the opening match of U21 Euro 2019 qualification against Wales. The Bayern Munich midfielder's future with the German champions remains undecided as rumors abound that he will be loaned out or possibly sold to Liverpool or a number of other potential suitors. Likewise, the 20 year old's opportunity in this squad will surely come under attack from several talented playmakers including 19 year old Xadas, André Horta, who is looking for the right move out of the Portuguese capitol, and Fiorentina's Gil Dias.

Much will be asked of Wolverhampton signing Rúben Neves as he will anchor a forward thinking midfield from his traditional deep-lying role. Having just moved to the English Championship over the summer in a shocking and hotly disputed transfer from FC Porto, the youngster has not failed to impress as his side have made a decent start to their season under manager Nuno Espírito Santo.

Paris St. Germain's Gonçalo Guedes will be expected to lead the line while several other players will be making their debuts including Benfica's centreback, Ruben Dias, and Vitória SC forward Xande Silva, both promoted from the U20 squad. Rui Jorge's U21s will be hoping to find better solutions in defence while taking full advantage of their strengths in attacking midfield.


Portugal senior squad for World Cup Qualifiers against Faroe Islands and Hungary 

Goalkeepers: Beto (Göztepe), Bruno Varela (Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cédric (Southampton), Eliseu (Benfica), José Fonte (West Ham), João Cancelo (Inter Milan), Pepe (Besiktas), Fabio Coentrão (Sporting)

Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Sporting), André Gomes (Barcelona), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), João Mário (Inter Milan), João Moutinho (Monaco), Pizzi (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting)

Forwards: André Silva (AC Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Nélson Oliveira (Norwich City), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Bruma (RB Leipzig)

Portugal U21 squad for Euro 2019 Qualifier against Wales

Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), Joel Pereira (Manchester United), Pedro Silva (Sporting)

Defenders: Fernando Fonseca (Estoril Praia), Ivanildo Fernandes (Sporting), Jorge Fernandes (FC Porto), Diogo Dalot (FC Porto), Ruben Dias (SL Benfica), Francisco Ferreira (Benfica), Luís Mata (FC Porto), Yuri Ribeiro (Rio Ave).

Midfielders: Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton), André Horta (Benfica), Xadas (Braga), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich); João Carvalho (Benfica), João Gamboa (Marítimo), Pedro Delgado (Sporting), Rafael Barbosa (Sporting), Gil Dias (Fiorentina).  

Forwards: Alexandre Silva (Vitória SC), Diogo Gonçalves (Benfica), Gonçalo Guedes (Paris Saint Germain).

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    I agree with everyone regarding Andre Gomes. I think the talent is certainly there, and if he were to play on a side that catered to his preferred style of play (like Valencia), he could be quite effective. But at this current moment in time, his confidence is at an all time low, to the point where he is painfully difficult to watch for both club and country. There is no reason why he continues to get called up while the likes of Bruno Fernandes is forced to watch the games from home.

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  • Guest - Danny DaSilva

    The argument here is with Gomes' confidence not ability and the only way he will regain this is by being called up. Same case can be made for Renato but with a different approach, taking into account his age. His will hopefully be an easier and more gradual return from building momentum with the junior sides.

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  • Agree that what Gomes is mostly lacking is confidence. And nothing helps get that back better than a team and coach that believe in you. It is hard to watch him at Barcelona at times, especially last year. He would make runs and be completely ignored. It seemed only Ratkic would want to pass it to him.
    Gomes is an intersting player. He is big, but doesn't dominate with his size. He is tall, but gets out jumped many times(can barely get a few inches off the ground sometimes.) And his pace leaves a lot to be desired. However, he is smart and technically sound and can be an asset to a lot of team.
    I do appreciate Santos backing the players how have delivered, but I think Bruno is hot right now and it would help him go to next level if he got the call up. But on the other hand, he had an oppurtunity to shine in the under 21's and really didn't. He wasn't bad, but not as good as he is playing now.

    from California, USA
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  • Guest - Ash

    Bruno Fernandes has something we haven't had since Maniche. A midfielder who can score from long range. He's in fantastic form and doesn't have the excuse of being the U-21 captain and them needing him more.

    It's completely unfair that certain players can rarely play, be in poor form, or are just not good enough but will get automatically called up. Meanwhile other talented players who are in excellent form have to work twice as hard and will still be left out.

    Bruno and Ricardo Pereira should have been selected. What better opportunity then against the Faroe Islands and one of the weakest Hungary sides ever.

    I know it's repetitive and it's what everyone agrees on but it's the truth

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  • I was thinking about the Maniche angle the other day as he hit those 2 shots from distance. By the way, I think he can be a much better player than Maniche. But Maniche hit some great shots from distance, especially against the Netherlands! Loved those goals, thanks YouTube!

    from California, USA
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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    Can't really argue with the squad selection. This is still the deepest Portugal team we've had in recent times. I can't believe Coentrão is back.. interested to see if Santos will start him over Eliseu. Gomes doubters no need to worry. Probable midfield Mario-Bernardo-William. Adrien, Pizzi, Moutinho are all solid back ups So I doubt he plays. Perhaps Bruno Fernandes isn't there because he has similar characteristics to the others? Plus we need Andre Gomes to get the hell out of Barcelona. Any way he can be used to attract other teams is a bonus. I'm surprised Bruma got called up as quickly as he did.. very excited to see him. Nelson O not a bad recall either especially if he's on form. We are going to need a proper #9 to hold down in the event Andre Silva gets injured. I really like this team. I said it before Portugal used to carry around a LOT of deadweight back in the Queiroz/Bento days. Analyzing the list now player for player.. it's hard to complain. Primeira Liga, La Liga, Bundesliga, EPL, Série A, Ligue 1, and two studs in the Turkish league. Save the whining until we lose a meaningful game.

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  • Guest - Ivo

    I’m ok with Gomes getting called up instead of Bruno Fernandes. Yes Bruno has been excellent since joining Sporting, but it’s a ridiculously small number of games to base a call up on and he didn’t really do anything very notable when playing in the more difficult and competitive Series A. At least Gomes is training and playing with some of the best players in the world week, in week out and despite the criticism he received for some performances with Barcelona last season, I thought he was actually pretty good whenever I watched him play. Seems to me he was more of a scapegoat for what were larger issues at Barcelona. It’s also worth remembering that at 6’2 Gomes is much more imposing in midfield than Fernandes at 5’8. With Joao Mario, Pizzi, Adrien and Moutinho they have more than enough attacking quality in midfield that I’m not worried about Fernandes not being there.

    I'm also totally fine with Nelson Oliveira getting called up. I’ve watched a couple of his Norwich games and he looks sharp and has scored some quality goals. The championship isn’t as bad as many people think in terms of quality either and we really don’t have too many options to choose from. In any case, he’ll likely be sitting on the bench regardless but could be a nice sub if Portugal establish a comfortable lead in the upcoming games.

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  • I think its a great selection by Santos. Santos is very smart and he actually does the best in selecting a quality and balanced side. I myself am happy to see Bruma selected again, glad the crazy guy has got his career back on track because he was always a phenomenal talent! Hope he keeps focused and stays fit because he'll be a great asset to the national team. And its awesome that Coentrao is back in the national team too! I was really happy we got him in Sporting and I knew it would be good for him for the national team as well. Coentrao is a fantastic left back and having Guerreiro when he returns and Fabio is incredible! Portugal's team is shaping up nicely!

    Hopefully Ruben Semedo Paulo Oliveira and Idgar Ie perform well for their club sides and one or two of them get in the squad in time too!

    And Bruno Fernandes has been amazing and Santos himself admitted it that he's had his eye on him and he's right at the door of the national team. Soon he'll be there as well cause you just have to watch him and see he's a class talent!

    Also Ivo, Bruno Fernandes isn't any small guy he's not 5'8" which is 173cm. Bruno Fernandes is actually 5'10" 179cm. If you look at the players when they are in the lineup before kickoff you'll see he's taller than Adrien who's 5'9". The good thing about Bruno Fernandes too is his versatility to play as a number 10 right behind a main striker, or in midfield as a number 8. Andre Gomes is alright, but I too believe its only a matter of time before Bruno Fernandes takes his place in the selection.

    All in all not a bad problem to have Portugal's team is loaded with quality!

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

    As much as I root for Fabio, I don't see that he's earned a spot again on the team. From what I've seen recently he's nowhere what he was when he could make those runs and help up front in the attack. Maybe later in the season when he's been playing full time with Sporting.

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  • Guest - Mmaaxx

    Happy with Gomes being retained, he is currently a bit lost at Barcelona which has lead to a lack of confidence. Being kept in the Portugal environment may help this.

    Coentrao has never been a player I liked. Flakey and overrated. Now injury prone, out of form and not match fit, I struggle to see the logic in calling him up. Especially considering the young talent needing exposure to the senior squad environment. These are easy matches coming up and it would be the right time to blood some youngsters and rewarding form.

    Similarly with Bruno Alves. He held his own last time round I know but will he really still be an option come Russia? Time to let Semedo in perhaps.

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