Portugal head into Euro 2020 aiming to retain their crown from 2016. And while a very different task awaits them. Moreover, they will feel confident of their ability to progress to the latter stages of the tournament and give it a go.
One of the favourites to come out on top come the end of the competiton. Portugal commence their journey in Group F. The group of death – alongside France, Germany and Hungary.
It’s going to be tough. But it’s by no means beyond the reach of Fernando Santos’ men. So in preparation for what promises to be a thrilling month, here’s what you need to know about Portugal.
Portugal’s road to Euro 2020
Portugal rather disappointingly finished runners up in Group B of the qualification process. Where coming second to Ukraine, to whom they lost away from home and finished three points behind.
5 wins in their other seven Group B matches against Serbia, Luxembourg and Lithuania were enough to comfortably book their place at Euro 2020. Without having to go through the playoffs – phew.
The Portuguese are in decent form coming into the European Championships. Although a little rocky for their liking. Since the conclusion of the Euro 2020 qualification groups, Santos’ side have managed six wins, three draws and just the one loss in their last ten. Not bad, although that defeat was to France.
Right, well, they have Cristiano Ronaldo. Ok, he is getting on a bit in his years now. But he’s still an absolute monster and loves scoring goals – especially for his country. Now on 103 international strikes, the 36-year old will be keen to add to those. And replicate his influence in his side’s 2016 success.
Of course, their clinical prowess in attack is made all the more dangerous by the creative quality they boast in midfield. With the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva supplying their forward colleagues as well as providing goal threat themselves, Portugal need to be contained very carefully.
Defensively, they will rely on the Premier League’s player of the season. Ruben Dias has enjoyed a sensational maiden campaign at Manchester City and will look to cement his ‘brick wall’ status on the international scene going into the European Championships. He’ll be a leader and a rock at the heart of Portugal’s back line.
Portugal’s weaknesses (For more Euro 2020 news download Footylight App)
There really aren’t many.
One potential point of attack could be behind the creative midfielders, where the side lack a world class screen to the back four. The likes of Willaim Carvalho and Danilo are solid players but, against France and Germany they will need to be on top, top form to contain creative threats like Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Muller and Kai Havertz.
Another cause for concern is who will partner Dias at the centre of defence. Of course, the City man is known for leading his back line efficiently but with Jose Fonte (37 years old) and Pepe (38 years) his possible centre-back partners, there’s a clear target.
Portugal’s players to watch
One player to keep an eye out for is Renato Sanches – can you believe he’s still only 23? He was Euro 2016’s young player of the tournament and, despite falling off the radar after a failed move to Bayern Munich, his solid couple of seasons with Lille (where he won the 2020/21 Ligue 1 title) have put him straight back into the Portugal set up, where he’ll be chomping at the bit to recreate his sensational breakthrough five years ago.
Of course, talking about young stars, special attention will be given to Joao Felix. The Atletico Madrid man, who features in Footylight’s Our 21, is practically the nation’s sweetheart and will be looking to take over the torch from Ronaldo sooner rather than later. At 21, he has already proved his talents and could make the Euro 2020 stage his own this summer.
Also included in Our 21 is 18-year old Nuno Mendes. The Sporting CP left back, or sometimes left winger, already has four caps to his name and has enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough campaign this year. He may not be a starter this summer, but expect him to add a spark when he features.
Portugal’s final Euro 2020 squad (For more Euro 2020 news download Footylight App)
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patriício (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: Joao Cancelo (Man City), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Jose Fonte (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Reben Dias (Man City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Raphael Guerreiro (Bprussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (PSG), Joao Palhinha (Sporting CP), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (Lille), Sergio Oliveira (Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)
Forwards: Pedro Goncalves (Sporting CP), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica)
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