Portugal exceeded all expectations at the 2016 European Championships, embarking on an incredible run to the showpiece event at the Stade de France. On that famous Paris night, the Seleção sought redemption for the heart-breaking defeat they had suffered in a role-reversal as Euro 2004 hosts in the final against Greece

Facing the hosts, Portugal had an uphill task in the final, but a resolute and often desperate defensive unit gave Fernando Santos’ side an outside chance of securing a shock victory.

And that is exactly what happened. With the clock ticking and a penalty shootout looming large, Eder found space just outside the French box and unleashed an effort past the hapless Hugo Lloris. It was a goal that guaranteed Eder’s spot in Portuguese folklore. Whisper it quietly, but the European champions could be set for more major glory this summer.

In recent years, Portugal have frequently made hard work of qualifying for major tournaments – often needing a playoff round to book their spot in the biggest events. They had absolutely no trouble this time around though, cruising into the World Cup as group winners after picking up 27 points in 10 qualifying games. Switzerland were the only side to offer any sort of resistance throughout the group stages.

 

Based on those results, you wouldn’t bet against Portugal but you have to take their group stage record with a pinch of salt; Andorra, Latvia and Faroe Islands were never going to test the European champions. Santos will be confident in his ability to pick a winning squad – again – but Portugal must recognise that this summer is not going to be easy.

As a ‘reward’ for progressing as group winners, Portugal have been paired up with Morocco, Iran and Spain. This should be a straight-up battle for supremacy between the two European nations but Portugal cannot afford to take their opponents lightly. A draw against either Iran or Morocco could prove catastrophic as Santos’ men look to pip Spain to top spot.

 

Portugal aren’t a one-man team by any stretch of the imagination, but Cristiano Ronaldo will be central to their aspirations. The 2017 Ballon d’Or winner has been pivotal for the national side since breaking onto the big stage and fans will be expecting the Real Madrid star to step up and guide his country to the latter stages of the tournament.

As of February 2nd, Portugal are priced at 25/1 to win the World Cup in football betting markets with bet365 – a decent price considering their exploits in France just two years ago. Santos will have his side fired up and ready to go; if you were being critical you could claim that this Portuguese side is ageing but the counter-argument to that opinion is that they are very experienced.

Portugal will be there or thereabouts this summer, especially if they can pick up a positive result against Spain in the opener. Topping the group should give Santos’ side an easier fixture in the next round and a quarter-final berth beckons if the Seleção play to their full potential.

From there, it is all about bottle, something that judging by what this group of players demonstrated two years ago, won’t be found wanting. To emerge victorious in Russia, Portugal will need to replicate their efforts from the 2016 European Championship. Don’t bet against it.

Related: Too early to dream? Portugal’s arsenal of talent

 

 

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Comments (2)

  1. jon/usa

Portugal will be regarded as one of the favorites going into the tournament,but that doesn't mean we don't have the quality to pose a genuine threat to the likes of Germany, Brazil, France, and Spain. If Santos gets his tactics right, and if we...

Portugal will be regarded as one of the favorites going into the tournament,but that doesn't mean we don't have the quality to pose a genuine threat to the likes of Germany, Brazil, France, and Spain. If Santos gets his tactics right, and if we manage to avoid any injuries to key players (Ronaldo and Pepe in particular), than I think we've got a great chance of making a deep run. In all honesty, anything less than the quarter-finals should be considered a huge disappointment.

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  1. Judao Rosario

I really do believe this is our best chance to go all the way. However, Santos has the toughest job to sort out 3 major factors.

Firstly, Pepe's partner. Its clear that both Fonte and Alves are a big risk. They lack form and are injury prone....

I really do believe this is our best chance to go all the way. However, Santos has the toughest job to sort out 3 major factors.

Firstly, Pepe's partner. Its clear that both Fonte and Alves are a big risk. They lack form and are injury prone. Best players for this role are Pedro Mendes, Ruben Dias, Andre Pinto or Ruben Vezo. But none of them have national team experience and that is a worry.

Second is the injury of Raphael Guerreiro. Even though he is 80% match fit now, he needs atleast 3 months complete rest to recover fully. But Dortmund keep using him when only half fit. He is one of our biggest weapons and he will be very hard to replace. Eliseu is very inconsistent and Coentrao is injury prone. Mario Rui is another option but again lacks international experience.

Thirdly and most importantly, our playmaker. During the Euros, Santos very famously rotated Joao Mario, Andre SIlva and Sanches for this role to such great effect. Now all three of them have faded into a black hole ever since and that leaves us with noone except Joao Moutinho who you have to say is now past his best. The only one I can see realistically doing a good job alongside Danilo and Bernardo is Manuel Fernandes. Except that his Russian club keeps using him out of place as of late.

On an end note, I must say Quaresma has been our golden bullet ever since Santos appeared. And now his crossing is getting better and better each match he plays. I fear if he gets injured, our World Cup dream will be smashed apart. Thats the only thing I genuinely fear. Quaresma must be ready for the World Cup.

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