Portugal - Team Profile
Surprisingly enough, this will only be Portugal’s sixth World Cup finals
The Portugal squad train in Obidos, Portugal. Photograph: Paulo Cunha / EPA
Manager: Paulo Bento
Best finish: Third (1966)
World Cup record: Played 26, Won 13, Drawn 4, Lost 9
Surprisingly enough, this will only be Portugal’s sixth World Cup finals, and you have to go all the way back to 1966 for their best ever performance, when Eusebio and co reached the semi-finals where they lost to Bobby Moore et al, beating the Soviet Union in the third place play-off. After that, 2006 was their next best showing when they finished fourth, this time losing to France in the last four and to hosts Germany in the play-off. They got out of their group in South Africa, but lost to eventual champions Spain in the last 16.
Paulo Bento likes him a bit of 4-3-3, but he’s been fiddling about in the build-up, dabbling with a diamond-shaped 4-4-2 formation. Whatever he opts to use in Brazil, needless to say all roads will lead to Cristiano Ronaldo.
All Star - Cristiano Ronaldo
A tough one, this. Oh, go on then: Ronaldo. Why? Ah, here.
County Colours - Westmeath
Average squad hanging off the coat-tails of one exceptional player in recent years.
Pundit’s Corner – Joe Brolly: “He can score all the goals he likes, Michael, but Ronaldo is the Seán Cavanagh of world football. For that reason, bad cess to him.”
Their qualifying campaign was a mixture of excellent, average and dog rough, home draws with Israel and Northern Ireland not inspiring confidence, their defeat in Moscow helping see to it that they would finish behind Russia in the group and be consigned to the play-offs.
There, Ronaldo played Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the mother of all ego battles, the Portuguese man prevailing, handsomely, scoring all four goals in their 4-2 aggregate win. If it’ll be said once, it’ll be said, oh, a gazillion times: Portugal need the Ronaldo man to do his thing in Brazil. If he does, the force may be with them in Group G.
Goalkeepers: 1 Eduardo (Braga), 12 Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), 22 Beto (Seville, Esp).
Defenders: 2 Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), 3 Pepe (Real Madrid, Esp), 5 Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid, Esp), 13 Ricardo Costa (Valencia, Esp), 14 Luis Neto (Zenit St Petersburg, Rus), 19 Andre Almeida (Benfica), 21 Joao Pereira (Valencia, Esp).
Midfielders: 4 Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev, Ukr), 6 William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), 8 Joao Moutinho (Monaco, Fra), 16 Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce, Tur), 20 Ruben Amorim (Benfica),
Forwards: 7 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Esp), 9 Hugo Almeida (Besiktas, Tur), 10 Vieirinha (Wolfsburg, Ger), 11 Eder (Braga), 15 Rafa (Braga), 17 Nani (Manchester United, Eng), 18 Varela (Porto), 23 Helder Postiga (Lazio, Ita).
PORTUGAL (v Germany): 12 Rui Patricio; 21 Joao Pereira (yc), 2 Bruno Alves, 3 Pepe (rc), 5 Fabio Coentrao (19 Andre Almeida, 65 mins); 8 Joao Moutinho, 4 Miguel Veloso (13 Ricardo Costa, 46 mins), 16 Raul Meireles; 17 Nani, 9 Hugo Almeida (11 Eder, 28 mins), 7 Cristiano Ronaldo.
PORTUGAL (v USA): 22 Beto; 21 Joao Pereira, 13 Ricardo Costa, 2 Bruno Alves, 19 Andre Almeida (6 William Carvalho, half-time); 8 Joao Moutinho, 4 Miguel Veloso, 16 Raul Meireles (18 Varela, 69 mins); 17 Nani, 23 Helder Postiga (11 Eder, 16 mins), 7 Cristiano Ronaldo.
PORTUGAL (v USA): 22 Beto (1 Eduardo, 89 mins); 21 Joao Pereira (18 Varela, 61 mins), 3 Pepe, 2 Bruno Alves, 4 Miguel Veloso; 8 Joao Moutinho (yc), 6 William Carvalho, 20 Ruben Amorim; 17 Nani, 7 Cristiano Ronaldo, 11 Eder (10 Vieirinha, 69 mins).