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Cristiano Ronaldo leads Portugal for the last time to chase the dream of World Cup

Nick Wilhelm

Updated: Nov 04, 2022 06:44

Portugal with talent to burn as they chase the big prize

portugal-national-football-team

Portugal has players that understand what it takes to win trophies on the international level, specifically the UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2019 UEFA Nations League, and quality in every area. These factors explain why they can compete with and defeat any team.

However, Spain's close 1-0 victory at the conclusion of the Nations League group stage has just dented their confidence by bringing back unpleasant memories of past mistakes. Some supporters even questioned where the renowned Cristiano Ronaldo should be after the setback.

Portugal just needed one point from that game, which was played at Braga, in order to advance. They appeared to be on track to do so with 87 minutes played and no goals scored when Alvaro Morata scored the winning goal for the visitors. The result was similar to Portugal's 2-1 home loss to Serbia in November 2021 on the penultimate matchday of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM qualifiers, a defeat that made them enter the play-offs.

The team will have the opportunity to reconcile with the supporters during the trip to Qatar. On the flight, Ronaldo will be traveling with an intriguing mix of athletes from different generations. Joao Moutinho and Danilo, who are both in their 30s, belong to the "old guard," while Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, and Vitinha are three years younger, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Joao Cancelo are all in their 28s.

The ideal send-off for the veterans would be a lengthy world finals campaign, which would also serve as a launching pad for the players who would succeed them and guide Portugal into the future.

Clevpicks.com will introduce you the Portuguese national football team...

Portugal's Group H fixtures

24 November

Portugal-Ghana (19:00 local time, Stadium 974)

28 November

Portugal-Uruguay (22:00 local time, Lusail Stadium)

2 December

Korea Republic-Portugal (18:00 local time, Education City)

Fernando Santos' approach and tactics

Fernando-Santos

“The best is yet to come and it’ll come this year,” said a confident Fernando Santos, looking ahead to Portugal’s bid for glory in Qatar. The 67-year-old coach has good reason to be optimistic. Not only can he still count on the services of the greatest player the country has ever produced, but he also has a seemingly limitless supply of gifted new faces at his disposal.

The UEFA EURO 2016 champions were able to be updated with young players of the caliber of Porto striker Diogo Costa, AC Milan forward Rafael Leao, who is also 23 years old, and Paris Saint-Germain left-back Nuno Mendes, who is three years younger than them, owing to that talent conveyor belt.

Santos, who was appointed to the position in the latter half of 2014, is in an uncommon circumstance. Despite having guided Portugal to their most prosperous period in history, he does not enjoy the support of all of the supporters. A sizable portion of them criticize him of not making the most of all of his possibilities because they deem his approach to be too conservative and realistic.

Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo

cristiano-ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has played for Portugal for 19 years and has no intention of quitting international football. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year confirmed his ambition to play for his nation through Euro 2024 at a recent Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) event.

Ronaldo, a key player in Portugal's previous victories and one of the world's best finishers, just passed Pele as the record international goalscorer with 117 goals in 191 games.

Over the years, the 37-year-old star has given more than just goals and awards. He is credited by many with helping Portugal finally get over their alleged inferiority problem, which had previously kept them from competing against the traditional powerhouses of the sport and had occasionally held them back.

Ronaldo, who will play in his fifth World Cup, has scored in every one of the four tournaments he has participated in so far (Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018).

He will have to get past the recent criticism directed at him that has been openly expressed at home in order to accomplish that, a turn of events to which he is not used. The No. 7 has struggled to find the back of the net in eight of his previous nine Portugal appearances and is dealing with a lack of consistent playing time at Manchester United. Despite this, he keeps instilling dread in the hearts of rival defenses.

Santos has stated that Ronaldo cannot be replaced. The coach will undoubtedly use the player in the 4-3-3 formation in an effort to keep his word and better Portugal's performance from Russia 2018, where they lost to Uruguay in the round of 16.

One to watch: Ruben Dias

ruben-dias

Portugal will need to make the most improvements in defense after 2016. The rearguard, which included Pepe, Jose Fonte, and Bruno Alves, was in need of some new blood and discovered it in Ruben Dias.

When the center-half made his international debut in 2018, he was only 21 years old. He was a Benfica player at the time and did well enough for Santos to select him for the World Cup squad that year. Since then, he has never looked back.

Dias will be one of Portugal's leading men in Qatar for a good reason; he is no longer a rookie in the locker room. The young Portuguese player, who Manchester City signed in 2020 to replace retired Belgian center back Vincent Kompany, went on to win the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award in his first Premier League season.

Due to both his tackling and his deft ball distribution, his presence alongside Pepe in the center of defense gives Portugal comfort.

Portugal's World Cup history

Portugal’s best ever performance at the World Cup came at England 1966, when a Eusebio-inspired team placed third.

The country’s next appearance did not come until Mexico 1986, which was followed by another lengthy absence, until Korea/Japan 2002. The Portuguese have been tournament ever-presents since then and reached the semi-finals for a second time at Germany 2006.

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