World Cup 2018 Portugal team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Euro 2016 winners Portugal head to Russia with largely the squad that won in France. Can they double up?
- Honours: Euro 2016
- FIFA Ranking: 4
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
They began with defeat against the Swiss but reacted magnificently winning the next nine on the bounce – including a winner-takes-all clash against Xherdan Shaqiri and co on matchday 10 – to win Group B on goal difference from Vladimir Petkovic’s men.
Fernando Santos’ side conceded a paltry four goals across 10 matches – two of which came in the opening defeat against the Swiss – while hitting 32 at the other end. The Euro 2016 winners now appear to have acquired remarkable mental fortitude to go with their undoubted talent.
STAR MAN - Cristiano Ronaldo
Absolutely no debate. Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite being 33, he arrives in arguably his best physical condition for an international tournament. The Real Madrid man has, courtesy of some fine man management from Zinedine Zidane, just collected his third straight Champions League win without running himself into the ground.
He comes into the tournament in a fine run of form having hit a glut of goals as Madrid peaked as the season came to an end. With a fit and firing Ronaldo, Portugal, ranked fourth in the world, will almost certainly go deep in the tournament.
NEXT BIG THING - Andre Silva
Portugal's forward Andre Silva (2ndR) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Portugal and Tunisia at the Municipal Stadium in Braga on May 28, 2018.Getty Images
The 22-year-old's move to AC Milan might not have been as successful as either party would have liked – he has scored 10 goals: eight in the Europa League and two in 24 Serie A appearances – after a €40 million move. However, Santos retains full confidence in the forward, and has been duly rewarded with a return of 12 goals in 21 games.
Perhaps more crucially, the former Porto man dovetails magnificently well with Ronaldo, and is able to vacate and fill space as required by the Real Madrid man.
THE COACH - Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos took over after a disappointing 2014 World Cup and an opening-matchday defeat to Albania in qualifying for Euro 2016 saw the Portuguese Football Federation relieve Paulo Bento of his duties.
It proved an inspired decision as Santos, a defender by trade, led an unfancied Portugal all the way to glory at Euro 2016
WORLD CUP HISTORY
2014 represented a dismal failure for a talented squad. They failed to emerge from a group that - despite containing eventual champions Germany - was pretty presentable, considering the presence of USA and Ghana. A 4-0 dismantling by Germany set the tone for the campaign.
However, Portugal have World Cup pedigree. Their showings have peaked and toughed depending on the talent at their disposal, with 1966, Eusebio in tow, their best showing, having finished third.
The 2006 World Cup saw them come fourth, while they were felled by eventual champions Spain at the last-16 stage in 2010.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
While he may not be willing to admit it, this is Ronaldo’s World Cup swansong. He currently has three goals across three tournaments. It's unlikely he will allow that to stand. A good World Cup for Ronaldo inevitably means a good World Cup for Portugal. Plus, they have momentum of winning a major tournament.
- 15th June- Portugal
- 20th June – Iran
- 25th June – Morocco