Portugal – A UEFA Euro 2016 Team Preview

Posted on by Sreya

Portugal Ronaldo - Free Kick

Portugal, aiming to improve on their 2014 FIFA World Cup performance, are undoubtedly one of the dark horses of the UEFA Euro 2016. With appearances in two semi-finals and one final in the last four European Championships, Portugal have traditionally excelled at this competition, but have seldom shown the killer instinct needed to win the ultimate prize.

With Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, Portugal arguably has the most potent goalscorer in modern European football. However, it is their over-reliance on the Real Madrid man which caused their downfall in the previous competitions of this stature.

Fernando Santos has been a breath of fresh air ever since he took charge in September 2014 after Paulo Bento was sacked following a loss to Albania which came on the heels of Portugal’s group-stage exit in Brazil. Not only has Santos managed to create a diverse squad by roping in talented youngsters from different leagues and divisions of European domestic football, he has managed to create an identity for the Portuguese side.

Qualifying from a five-team Group H was hardly a problem for Portugal with the team winning seven consecutive games to finish top of the group, ahead of debutants Albania. In the Euro finals though, qualifying for the knock-outs might be a bit trickier as Portugal are drawn into Group F alongside Iceland, Austria and Hungary – nations who are not traditionally strong but can still act as surprise packages.

In Sporting’s Rui Patricio and Lyon’s Anthony Lopes, Portugal have two experienced goalies well capable of standing up to the best of the forwards in Europe. Fernando Santos has at his disposal some of the veteran defenders in Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Jose Fonte and Bruno Alves. 22-year-old Lorient youngster Raphael Guerreiro who made the cut for the final squad is likely to lock down a place on the left flank.

Adrian Silva, Joao Mario and William Carvalho are likely to form the three-man midfield when Portugal take the field against Iceland on 14th June. However, Santos has a set of diverse talents like Danilo, Joao Moutinho, Andre Gomes and even the 18-year-old Renato Sanches who has already been linked to a host of top European clubs to back his first-choice midfield.

With Cristiano Ronaldo struggling with injuries in the last few weeks, it is unlikely for the Real Madrid star to play alone up front. Nani, who had an exceptional season with Fenerbahce, is expected to slot in alongside his former Manchester United teammate. Ricardo Quaresma, who found the back of the net in Portugal’s recent win against Norway, could stat as well.

Portugal most definitely have the talent to make a deep run into the competition but only their temperament and ability to handle pressure will determine how far they progress into the Euro 2016.

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