FIFA World Cup 2022: Decoding the squad of Portugal
Portugal boss Fernando Santos named a 26-man squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in all likelihood will be featuring in his last WC. Meanwhile, Portugal's best run in the tournament was in 1966, when they finished third. They will be hoping to improve on it. Portugal play their opener against Ghana on November 24. We decode Portugal's squad.
Portugal's goalkeepers and defenders
Goalkeepers - Rui Patricio (Roma), Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves). Defenders - Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (PSG), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Rapahael Gurerero (Dortmund)
Portugal's midfielders and forwards
Midfielders - Vitinha (PSG), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Ruben Nevers (Wolves), Danilo Pereira (PSG), Palhinha (Fulham), Joao Mario (Benfica), Otavio (Porto), Matheus Nunes (Wolves), William (Real Betis) Forwards - Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Andre Silva (Leipzig), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Ricardo Horta (Braga)
Can Portugal's goalkeepers stand out?
With over 100 international caps, Rui Patricio (Roma) is likely to take the spot within the posts. He faces stiff competition from Porto's Diogo Costa, who has raked in 11 clean sheets across tournaments this season. Wolves' Jose Sa could be making his debut. He holds 40 Premier League saves in 2022-23, besides four punches and as many clean sheets.
Notable absentees from the squad
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota was ruled out of the World Cup due to an injury. Meanwhile, Joao Moutinho of Wolves and Renato Sanches of PSG were ignored by Santos.
Portugal have a concrete backline
Portugal will rely on their defense, boasting of Man City ace Ruben Dias, who will form a solid central pairing with the experienced Pepe. An in-form Diogo Dalot might have to battle it out with Joao Cancelo at right-back. PSG's Nuno Mendes should start on the left but Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro has a decent resume as well.
Plenty of firepower in the midfield
Portugal are likely to go in with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Manchester City's Bernardo Silva offers creativity. Ruben Neves and William Carvalho form the crux of midfield. Bruno Fernandes will occupy the number 10 position. There are talented prospects in Vitinha (PSG) and Matheus Nunes (Wolves), adding depth to the roster Joao Mario (Benfica) and Otavio (Porto).
What about Portugal's attack?
Portugal will rely heavily on Ronaldo. He is the top scorer in men's international football (117). AC Milan forward Rafael Leao will provide impetus from the left as Bernardo Silva will settle in on the right flank. Joao Felix remains a solid back-up for Ronaldo. He can make a difference. Goncalo Ramos, Andre Silva, and Ricardo Horta are other options in attack.
Portugal's Probable XI against Ghana
Portugal are seated in Group H alongside Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea, with the opener scheduled for November 24. Portugal's Probable XI versus Ghana (4-2-3-1): Rui Patricio; Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Nuno Mendes; Ruben Neves, William Carvalho; Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao; Ronaldo.