Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo shows no signs of retirement as he approaches his mid-30s. But there are plenty other worries for a team with an ageing central defence and a number of players struggling for form..
PORTUGAL FIFA Ranking : 4
Coach : Fernando Santos
Key Players : Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe
Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal’s captain, most capped player and all time leading scorer, at the age of 33 remains a fundamental presence for Portugal. Even when not playing, as he showed by encouraging the team from the touchline during the EURO 2016 finals. He has scored a record of 81 goals in 149 games..
Pepe is the linchpin of the defence for the best part of a decade although his rash tackles, explosive fits of temper and liberal use of gamesmanship make him many people’s pantomime villain. He was born in Brazil and moved to Portugal at the age of 18..
Fernando Santos is a former defender who played for Estoril and Maritimo.. The 63 year old guided Greece to EURO 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.. He led Portugal to EURO 2016 title and has lost only once in 29 competitive internationals..
Portugal have won their last nine competitive internationals although their form in friendlies since qualifying has been more erratic, with two wins, a draw and an embarrassing 3-0 defeat by Netherlands..
Previous Tournaments :
Portugal will be appearing at their eighth World Cup and sixth in a row.. Their best performance was on their debut in 1966 when they finished third after losing to England in semi-finals. They reached the semi finals in 2006 before losing to France.. They went out in the group stage in 2002 and 2014.. They lost to Spain in the round of 16 in 2010..
Along with neighbours Spain, Portugal appear to be favourites to progress from Group B which also contains Morocco and Iran. But facing Spain in their opener could complicate things as defeat would leave them playing catch-up. Their second match against Morocco will stir unhappy memories of a 3-1 defeat by the North Africans in 1986. While thee Iran match brings them face to face with their former coach Carlos Queiroz..
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