Portugal coach Fernando Santos and his players were understandably delighted after beating Switzerland convincingly last night in Lisbon to book their place at the 2018 World Cup.

Santos praised the way his players fought and worked for the victory, to offer him the perfect present on his birthday, and also spoke about the incredible atmosphere and communion produced in the stadium upon the spontaneous rendition of the national anthem after the final whistle blew.

“Togetherness” was a common theme among the Portugal delegation post-match, while Bernardo Silva enthusiastically championed the Seleção’s chances of going far in Russia next summer.

 

Portugal coach, Fernando Santos:

“I have lots of confidence in my players. I was born 63 years ago, and today they gave me this present. My players worked hard and fought hard. As I’ve always said, with this quality of organisation you are closer to winning. Often people confuse playing pretty with playing ugly and playing well. Playing well is not letting the opposition score and you scoring goals. Today, Portugal showed it has the quality to play against any team.

“I’m a Christian, I believe in God, in his son and in the Holy Spirit. But this is my faith, my religious conviction. Here I believe in my players and what they can do as a team and that’s what I transmit to them. And I’m sure they have put their trust in this, and that’s why things have worked out. It’s this togetherness among all of us.

“Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it.

“With this team I’ll go to the end of the world. The World Cup? We go into every game with the ambition and desire to win and that’s what we’ll do. My focus now is November, and the friendly matches. This is an ongoing job of assessment to choose the final 23 players. We’ll try and form as strong a squad as possible for the tournament.”

 

José Fonte, talking to PortuGOAL:

 

Portugal midfielder, Bernardo Silva:

“We’re going to try and win the World Cup. We’ll be going into the tournament with the ambition of winning it. We go into every game to win. That’s our strength and we know when we all think that way we’re nearer to victory. Fernando Santos always gives us lots of confidence. This is a fantastic squad. I feel great to be here and very happy that we’ve made it to the World Cup.”

 

Portugal goalkeeper, Rui Patrício 

“It was tough qualifying campaign, but we knew we depended only on ourselves. We all deserve congratulations. We’re at the World Cup again.”

 

Portugal midfielder, João Moutinho:

“Mission accomplished with an excellent display. We managed to control all the aspects of the game in front of this marvellous crowd. What’s the secret of our success? Togetherness. We showed this on the pitch. We’re to be congratulated.”

 

Portugal midfielder, João Mário:

“The promises the coach makes are always the same. He believes in us, but the sentiment is mutual. We never doubted we would qualify in first place. It’s legitimate to think about winning the World Cup. We may not be favourites, but we are contenders for sure.”

 

Portugal right-back, Cédric Soares:

“We’ll approach the World Cup the same way we approached the European Championship. We’ll think about it one game at a time, but there’s a long time to go and we’ll have time to set our goals.”

 

William Carvalho, Portugal midfielder:
“We all have a dream and we can make it come true. We’re at the World Cup, we have an excellent team and we believe we can have a great tournament. Tonight we fought from start to finish. The game went well collectively and individually. We achieved our goal and now we aspire to have a great World Cup campaign. It’s time to celebrate.”

 

by Tom Kundert

Related: Portugal 2-0 Switzerland match report

 

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    While Portugal are perhaps not quite the same level as Germany, Spain, France, and Brazil in terms of overall squad depth and quality, I still believe we are genuine contenders to win the holy grail of international sport next summer in Russia. As others on this site have mentioned, the "favorites" to win the world cup are not without their flaws -- and neither are we -- so it is up to our respective coaches to design game-plans that can successfully exploit these weaknesses. Fernando Santos does not play the most attractive brand of football. I have no doubt that if Pep Guardiola or Maurizio Sarri had the likes of Ronaldo, Bernardo, Joao Mario, Moutinho, and William at their disposal, we would be playing some of the most beautiful, free-flowing football on the planet.

    That being said, no one can argue that Fernando Santos hasn't made profound changes to the psyche of the Seleccao. In the past, we had plenty of technically gifted, skillful players who could showcase some of the sexiest football around, but we always lacked the mental fortitude that is required to win titles. In the biggest matches against the strongest opposition, our lack of self-belief and our seemingly innate Portuguese pessimism would prove to be our downfall. Over the past two years, Fernando Santos has engineered (no pun intended!) a genuine winning mentality into this squad. He has built the Seleccao into a tactically disciplined, defensively organized machine that is all but impossible to beat.

    The results speak for themselves: We have only lost one competitive match since Fernando Santos took over from Paulo Bento after the embarrassing 1-0 loss to Albania at the start of our Euro 2016 qualifying campaign -- the 2-0 away loss to Switzerland. And unless I am mistaken, the last time we lost a competitive fixture that Ronaldo had featured in was the group stage opener of the 2014 world cup against Germany which was over 3 years ago!

    This will also be the first time in Cristiano Ronaldo's career where he will enter a world-cup with a very strong supporting cast. Portugal's squad in 2006 was definitely one of the best in the tournament, but Ronaldo was by no means the talisman that he is today. In Andre Silva, he finally has a quality strike partner who is capable of putting the ball in the back of the net on the rare occasion that Ronaldo is having a bad day. In Bernado Silva, Portugal finally have their first world-class #10 since Deco. On the wings we have plenty of quality options with the likes of Quaresma, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes and Bruma -- each with their own unique characteristics. Moreover, our midfield is arguably the deepest in world-football (only Spain, Germany, France, and perhaps Croatia can compare). Nelson Semedo, Raphael Guerreiro, Cedric, and Ricardo Pereira, we have four elite full-backs that are more than capable of performing at the highest level. The only question mark is at the heart of defense. Pepe is still a world-class center-back, but our other options in that position leave a lot to be desired. Bruno Alves and Jose Fonte have generally been solid when called upon under the guidance of Fernando Santos, but neither of them give you a great deal of confidence against elite competition. Our other options are either decent but far from elite (Luis Neto, Daniel Carrico, etc) or simply too inexperienced (Paulo Oliveira, Edgar Ie, Ruben Semedo) to be trusted with a starting role in such a high-pressure tournament. Many have been calling for Santos to experiment with Danilo as a center-back, a gamble that could very well pay off, but it still far from certain that he has what it takes to succeed in the heart of defense. He certainly has all of the physical attributes to excel as a center-back, but the mental aspects of defending take time to develop, especially when you're moving from midfield to defense.

    Nevertheless, I am confident that Fernando Santos will make the most out of our upcoming friendlies to experiment with different formations and perhaps even bleed in some young talent. Bruno Fernandes and Goncalo Guedes in particular look like they're ready to step up and play a more important role on the Seleccao.

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  • Guest - Nelson

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Great article!
    It is fantastic to see the professionalism, commitment and togetherness that is on display with the comments from the manager and his players. To me it is a sign that this team acknowledges the opportunity they have before them and they don't take their "responsibility" lightly.

    I agree that you can't really call us a "favorite" to win it all, but that is less relevant to me than the fact that we have a real opportunity and the team is well managed. This could arguably be the best team we've ever fielded in a major tournament by the time they take the pitch this summer.

    With respect to Santos' tactics I have no issue whatsoever. I've seen too many talented "beautiful" teams get stifled and frustrated by less talented but well organized squads in major tournaments. I know some of our younger stars are seeing less playing time in their domestic leagues than we'd like but that is the only real concern that I have at the moment. Forca!!

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  • Guest - Rosario

    They friggin did it!! Turned the tables on the Swiss, effectively giving us the last laugh! Mr Santos has proven to be a real "Prophet" alright.
    As far as unity and proper mentality on/off the pitch goes, we are in a good place. I am concerned about our defense, like some members have already pointed out. I pray we will be spared injuries to valuable players as well come the end of the season. And though I highly doubt we'll have him back properly, I am gonna root for Renato to reach his former level again. The sheer excitement he brought me during Euro 2016 is why I love football!

    Small concern for me in this match was Andre Silva's behaviour: he seemed to look for a fight the whole time. Trying to get in a nasty hit on opposition players happens everywhere but he'd better learn to keep a lid on it. None of us are looking forward to another 1st WC Group Stage game where a red card ends up costing us the game 4-0. We NEED a strong start to the WC, 2014 & 2010 started off disastrous & indifferent. And yes, I know we have a vastly superior squad now compared to then but even so, I want the team to focus on upsetting the haters rather than giving them a reason to celebrate...

    I hope Bernardo's magic last night wasn't a one off, we'll need those magical runs to terrorize opposition defences. Really looking forward to seeing more masterclasses from him. And hey, this might very well be the last tournament we get to enjoy Ronaldo. If there is one player in that squad I want to see win this damn Trophy, it's the Captain. He's f***ing earned it. Might have messed up here and there but we all saw his agony in the Euro Final when forced off (I still hope someone, ANYONE returns the favor to Payet in 2018): he's always wanted and has always tried to give his all. And as Tom said so famously last year:

    It's Time.

    Força!!!

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it."

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach in post-match press conference after win Switzerland)

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