The 2016 European champions will be looking to bring back the on-field spark.

The Portuguese haven’t been spoken about enough leading up to the tournament as the headlines, as ever were donned by their captain and leader Cristiano Ronaldo. The fomer Manchester United forward’s interview with journalist Piers Morgan has been met with uproar, both positive and negative. It outlined the situation at his club and how it impacted his playing time there this season. However, the leading marksman in International Football history will be looking to add to his 191 appearances as he looks to turn his attention to the National team and the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Fernando Santos’s men grabbed an eye-catching 4-0 victory over Nigeria on the 18th of November, 2022 in a friendly in Lisbon. Ronaldo missed out due to a stomach bug. However, is expected to be fit and return for Portugal’s opener vs Ghana. They face Ghana on the 24th of November, at Stadium 974, Doha.

Here’s the predicted lineup for Portugal: (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Diogo Costa

Costa may be fairly unknown to the wider football community. But the 23-year-old has saved a few penalties and also registered an assist in the UEFA Champions League this term. His heroics have made him a transfer target for European giants like Manchester United for next summer.

Center- back – Ruben Dias (LCB)

The Manchester City defender and former Benfica man has been a bedrock in the Portuguese defence for the last couple of years. He was named the Premier League player of the year in his debut season and led his club to a league title and Champions League final. Portugal will need that guy in Qatar.

Center- back – Pepe (RCB)

The 39-year-old evergreen Pepe, as always is present in the Portugal backline. He won the Man of the Match in the Euro 2016 against France and led his team to victory in the absence of the mercurial Ronaldo. Currently, with Porto, Pepe won has won two League titles and one Portuguese Cup, Taça de Portugal. In his 10-year-stint at the Bernabéu playing 334 games, Pepe won three League titles, and three Champions League titles.

Left-back – Raphael Guerreiro (LB)

Winner of Euro 2016 against France, mentioned in an interview how “winning euros was his childhood dream”. After, having a wonderful campaign in the European Under 21 championships in the Czech Republic. In 2016, later he got signed by Dortmund on a four-year deal. He’s been a steady performer both club and country since.

Right-back – Joao Cancelo (RB)

Cancelo made his senior debut for Portugal in 2016 after previously being capped at all national youth team levels, winning 75 caps and scoring three goals overall. He was also part of Portugal’s under-21 team that reached the 2015 UEFA European Championship Final. A Manchester City favourite and two-time Premier League winner like his teammate Ruben Dias. His creativity and versatility to play the full-back positions for his teams will be key to unlocking defences for Portugal.

Defensive Midfield – William Carvalho (CDM)

The Real Betis man is popular for his passing range, accuracy and ability to control a game. He also has great composure on the pitch. He earned praise for his imposing physicality and ability to shield the backline for club and country alike. Carvalho will represent his nation at his third World Cup. His first ever International goal came in a 2018 World Cup qualifier. He has also been awarded the Commander of the Order of Merit by the Portuguese Republic.

Defensive Midfield – Ruben Neves (CDM)

The Wolves captain will be sitting in deep in a more creative role and looking to spray passes and dictate play from deep alongside William. With his contract running out in 2024, he’s been linked with various clubs across Europe such as Barcelona, Manchester United etc. He’ll look to propel his career further upward from this tournament onwards in Qatar.

Right midfielder – Bernardo Silva (RM)

A silky smooth dribbler from Lisbon, the former Monaco man is a must in the starting eleven for Fernando Santos. Amongst the trio of Manchester City men in the Portuguese lineup, Bernardo Silva can function either as an attacking central midfielder or as a winger. In this setup, he’d be looking to provide creativity or ball retention for his team based on the tactics deployed by his manager in Qatar.

Attacking Midfield – Bruno Fernandes (CAM)

The Manchester United captain has become a key attacking threat in the absence of captain Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored twice in the recent friendly win over Nigeria, in Lisbon. Portugal will be looking for more of the same to progress further in the knockout stages in Qatar. After joining United in January 2020, he’s gone on to record the most goals scored in a single season in all competitions by a Premier League midfielder with 28 in 2020-21. He’s taken up the number 8 this season. The same number he wore during his time for Sporting CP and as a tribute to his birth date and his father. Upon the departure of Juan Mata, after his contract expired. He’s also been named captain by manager Eric Ten Haag.

Left Midfield – Rafael Leao (LM)

After years in the Sporting CP youth system, Leao finally made his professional debut for Sporting CP B on 21st May 2017. On 11th February 2018, Rafael Leao made his senior club football debut. In the summer 2019 transfer window, European giants, AC Milan, came calling for Leao and he was Seria A MVP in 2020-21. Scoring 11 goals and also providing 10 assists in this competition, earning his Portugal call-up. He a one for the future of Portugal, but will look to make his mark in this year’s World Cup.

Who will score more goals in FIFA World Cup 2022?
Cristiano Ronaldo
  • 15519 ( 39.4 % )
Lionel Messi
  • 23869 ( 60.6 % )
VS VS

Striker – Cristiano Ronaldo (ST)

Finally and arguably the greatest International player in football history needs no introduction. Since making his debut for Portugal in 2003, he’s gone on to become the European men’s record holder with 191 caps. Ronaldo also broke the world record for international goals when he scored twice against the Republic of Ireland in Portugal’s European Qualifier in Faro-Loulé on 1 September 2021, aged 36. Already a European champion in 2016, he’d looking to add a final feather to his glittering career with the World Cup in Qatar this year.

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