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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Portugal seek maiden title win

Portugal will be heading into the FIFA World Cup 2018 as the reigning European champions and with a much better squad and reputation than the side that crashed out in the group stages last time around.

football Updated: Jun 03, 2018 12:57 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,Portugal team profile,Portugal national football team
Portugal national football team coach Fernando Santos will hope to lead the side to their maiden FIFA World Cup win in Russia. (REUTERS)

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified six times; best – third place (1966)

Head coach: Fernando Santos

Qualifying route: UEFA Group B winners

Squad (final): Goalkeepers - Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio; Defenders - Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Mario Rui, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira, Ruben Dias; Midfielders - Adrien Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, William Carvalho; Forwards - Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma.

The year was 1966. Eusebio could seemingly do nothing wrong and thanks to his nine goals in the competition, the Portugal national football team were looking like real contenders to win the FIFA World Cup title. (FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 FULL SCHEDULE)

However, the dreams came crashing down in the semi-finals with a 2-1 loss against England and the side has not come any closer to winning the tournament ever since.

The 2006 campaign did have its moments, but the semi-final curse struck once more and they were beaten by the eventual runners-up France.

Portugal won’t have many fond memories from their FIFA World Cup campaign four years back in Brazil. Placed in one of the toughest groups in the competition, they began with a humiliating 4-0 loss at the hands of eventual champions Germany.

READ | FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Spain eye resurgence after last horror show

The loss proved devastating to their hopes as they crashed out in goal difference after a 2-2 draw against USA and a 2-1 win over Ghana.

Fast forward to 2018, the Cristiano Ronaldo-led side faces another tough opening fixture at the World Cup and their opponents are none other than the 2010 champions Spain.

However, this time, they will be heading into the tournament as the reigning European champions and with a much better squad and reputation than the side that crashed out in the group stages four years back in Brazil.

The team impressed during the qualifiers as Cristiano Ronaldo found a highly capable strike partner in AC Milan youngster Andre Silva.

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Ronaldo himself is enjoying a great run of form and he will be extra motivated after guiding Spanish giants Real Madrid to their third consecutive UEFA Champions League title - a feat unheard of in modern football.

Most of the core members of the Euro 2016-winning side are still in the team that has been bolstered by the likes of Bernardo Silva and Goncalo Guedes.

Three key players

Cristiano Ronaldo - Arguably one of the best players in the world right now, Ronaldo is the backbone of the Portugal football team and he will play a major role in their FIFA World Cup 2018 campaign. He was instrumental in their Euro 2016 success and the entire nation will be looking at their all-time highest goal-scorer and skipper to guide his nation to their first-ever FIFA World Cup title victory.

Andre Silva - Silva may be just 22-years old but he has already created a place for himself in the Portugal football team. A product of FC Porto’s youth system, he impressed from a young age and was signed by AC Milan last season. He is also the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick for the national team and he has already formed an excellent partnership with skipper Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bernardo Silva - The Manchester City midfielder is no stranger to the grand stage after winning the Premier League title this season. The youngster started his career in Benfica but played almost exclusively for their B-team before moving to Monaco where he helped the French club win the league and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. In Russia, he will be at the heart of the midfield and it will be his responsibility to provide the passes to the offensive trio.

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 12:57 IST