Cristano Ronaldo will lead Portugal into another European Championship with hopes for glory, and with the help of Ruben Dias the country could pull off another upset.
Portugal may be overlooked by some but if history has told us anything it’s that they should never be counted out.
After beating France in the Euros back in 2016, a match nobody saw them winning, they proved themselves as a team not to be underestimated.
The bookies place them as sixth favourite behind France, England, Belgium, Spain and Germany, but they have a wealth of talent among their ranks that can cause problems for any side.
Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, the superstar will be keen to show why he’s regarded as one of the greatest of all time after a disappointing season with Juventus.
Ronaldo may have finished as top scorer in Serie A with 29 goals, but Juventus’ decade of dominance was broken by Inter Milan.
It was a struggle to even make the top four while they endured another disappointing Champions League exit.
The superstar will have to bring the heroics that won them their last international trophy if they are in for a chance this summer.
Portugal shares a group with France and Germany, meaning one of the top countries won’t qualify and an intense battle for contention may ensue.
With CR7 in their squad you may be surprised to hear the key to the teams success actually lies in their defense.
With Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Pepe and Raphael Gurrerio as their back four it’s going to take incredible talent to score against them.
Their whole squad is packed with talent with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix also among their ranks.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyon), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Jose Fonte (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (Paris St Germain), Joao Palhinha (Sporting), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (Lille), Sergio Oliveira (Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)
Forwards: Pedro Goncalves (Sporting), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica).
The star man: Ruben Dias
Ruben Dias was on third of Man City’s Portuguese trio who helped them win the Premier League[/caption]
With Ronaldo in your team someone else being the star man may seem like blasphemy but Ruben Dias has really been that good.
At just 24, Dias has transformed Man City’s defence into the most formidable in the Premier League.
His willingness to put his body on the line, get in front of any shot and organise his back four has led Pep Guardiola’s side to a domestic double and their first-ever Champions League final.
France and Germany, two of the teams in Portugal’s group both have brilliant firepower, and if Portugal are going to have a chance of making it past the group stages defense will be the key.
The FWA Footballer of the Year already has 27 international caps to his name, if he can replicate his heroics in the Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain Portugal are in safe hands.
The one to look out for: Pedro Goncalves
Pedro Goncalves is a name more familiar in Portugal but the attacking midfielder has spent time in England.
His first and only appearance was for Wolverhampton Wanderers back in 2018 before returning to Portugal.
This season the youngster has scored 23 goals in 32 appearances for Sporting Lisbon and is already being linked to a move to Liverpool.
Labelled as ‘the next Bruno Fernandes’ the midfielder is known for his technical ability and ruthlessness in front of goal, two very important skills for an attacking player.
Goncalves is yet to get his first international cap, will he be able to impress on the world’s biggest stage?
The manager: Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos has been a huge success since his arrival in 2014.
The former defender led Portugal to their only European Championship title in 2016, beating a France team seen as the heavy favourites.
He also led Portugal to a UEFA Nations League victory in 2019, beating Netherlands to claim victory.
Santos will have the task of dealing with ‘the group of death’ if he wants to be victorious at the Euros, and although they are expected to make it out of the group it’s going to be a difficult task.
With key players Pepe and Ronaldo ageing, the manager is going to have to rely on his younger players to make an impact.
All games live on talkSPORT
June 15 – Portugal vs Hungary 20:00
June 19 – Portugal vs Germany 17:00
June 23 – France vs Portugal 20:00