Portugal UEFA Euro 2012 Team Preview.
On the surface, Portugal seems deserving of its top 10 spot on the FIFA World Rankings, boasting internationally-known players like Raul Meireles, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, Nani, and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the Portuguese are only a shadow of the squad that made it to the final of the Euro in 2004.
In the last four years, Portugal has failed to piece together a cohesive team with a good enough midfield or a solid attack to emulate “Golden Generation” players like Figo and Nuno Gomes. Many formulas have been attempted, the latest failure involving Ronaldo playing as center striker rather than his natural winger position during the 2008 European Championships. Ronaldo’s return to the left wing has left the striker position to Hugo Almeida, a player who has been anything but successful with the national team.
Head coach Paulo Bento has insisted on awarding Almeida most of the playing time during the last two years, but the squad’s goal draught only keeps getting worse. In order to have a chance to make a dent in the toughest group of the tournament, Bento must be willing to experience with the promising 20-year-old Nélson Oliveira and lessen his reliance on 29-year-old veteran Helder Postiga.
Although counterintuitive, a sizeable problem for Portugal this year is its captain and star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite being an integral part of Real Madrid, Ronaldo struggles to find the right fit in the national squad. Cristiano must realize he cannot fix everything on his own. He tries to be at five places at a time to compensate for an unreliable partner like Almeida and a midfield that struggles with retaining possession.
Their poor performance in the Euro qualifiers forced them to battle for a place at the European Championship with a playoff match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and their game has not shown improvement in the recent international friendlies against Macedonia and Turkey.
Stuck in the aptly-called “Group of Death” alongside Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark, Portugal seems like a lost cause. Nevertheless, the Portuguese have the benefit of low expectations. They have no one to impress and no title to defend, which may be just the right kind of inspiration they need to make a surprise appearance in the quarterfinals.
Coach: Paolo Bento
Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)
Beto (FC Porto)
Defenders:Bruno Alves (Zenit St. Petersburg)
Pepe (Real Madrid)
Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid)
Ricardo Costa (Valencia)
Rolando (FC Porto)
Miguel Lopes (Sporting Braga)
João Pereira (Valencia)
Midfielders:Miguel Veloso (Genoa)
Custódio (Sporting Braga)
João Moutinho (FC Porto)
Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)
Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza)
Raul Meireles (Chelsea)
Nani (Manchester United)
Hugo Viana (Sporting Braga)
Forwards:Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) (Captain)
Hugo Almeida (Besiktas)
Nélson Oliveira (Benfica)
Silvestre Varela (FC Porto)
Helder Postigal (Real Zaragoza)
Written by Daniela Catanho, Published by Miles DeGrazia