As they bid to protect their title at Euro 2020, it is fair to say that Portugal did not seem like prospective winners of Euro 2016 for the duration of the team phase. Cristiano Ronaldo and co. drew all a few game titles in a seemingly weak section showcasing Hungary, Iceland and Austria. They squeezed by means of as a single of the finest third-position finishers but ended up the only workforce in the previous 16 who had unsuccessful to get a match beforehand.

They still had not won a match within 90 minutes by the time the quarter-finals rolled about, getting required an further-time target from Ricardo Quaresma to get previous Croatia in the to start with knockout spherical. One thing similar transpired in the quarters, as Fernando Santos’ aspect overcame Poland on penalties soon after a 1-1 attract.

By then, the tournament experienced opened up for Portugal. Drawn in opposition to Wales in the semi-finals, Portugal registered their to start with victory in regulation time thanks to quick-fire goals from Ronaldo and Nani. They were underdogs in the ultimate versus France – and even far more so when Ronaldo was withdrawn by way of injuries early on – but Portugal properly contained the host country and then struck a decisive blow by means of the unlikely determine of Eder in extra time.

Euro 2016 was Portugal’s 1st at any time good results at a big match and they will be on the lookout to repeat the feat five yrs on at Euro 2020. Spain gained back again-to-back again Euros in 2008 and 2012, but no other aspect has carried out so in the history of the competitors. There is cause to believe that that Portugal could comply with in the footsteps of their neighbours this summer time, even if the holders have not definitely been pointed out in the identical breath as France, Belgium and England in discussions about the favourites.

The squad at Santos’ disposal in 2021 is significantly stronger than it was in 2016. Ronaldo is now 36-many years-previous but has proven few indications of slowing down when it will come to putting the ball in the back of the net. Crucially, Portugal now have an great assistance solid which ought to allow for the major man up prime to conserve his electrical power for the most vital moments.

That guidance solid features Bruno Fernandes, who has been a revelation given that becoming a member of Manchester United in January 2020, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota. It could be argued that Jota, with his injection of speed and directness, is the critical male in this attack, which will be configured in both a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 development based on Fernandes’ exact positioning.

There is a good base powering that quartet, with Danilo Pereira and William Carvalho established to be tasked with breaking up opposition assaults and controlling possession. The veteran figure of Joao Moutinho can be identified as upon from the bench if Santos wants a person to get the sting out of a game, whilst Renato Sanches – the breakthrough star of Euro 2016 – is coming off the back of an superb season at Ligue 1-profitable Lille.

If this Portugal group has a weak point at Euro 2020, it is at the again. Ruben Dias has emerged as a single of the very best centre-halves on the continent at Manchester Town this phrase. He will be partnered by the 38-12 months-previous Pepe, whose deputy is the 37-12 months-old Jose Fonte. It is inevitable that some will be involved by the age of people two players, but neither has looked over the hill for the duration of their club seasons with Porto and Lille.

Joao Cancelo will be deployed at proper-again and Raphael Guerreiro at remaining-again. Both of those players are improved going forward than they are defensively and opposition wingers will no question glance to consider edge of the room in behind both of those players in phases of transition. Santos need to uncover a way to supply satisfactory deal with when his whole-backs press ahead.

Portugal have been drawn in the Euro 2020 group of loss of life alongside France, Germany and Hungary. Still there is an argument that Santos’ aspect are greater suited to playing the bigger teams, who will defend with larger traces and not merely camp 10 adult males at the rear of the ball. 5 a long time on from their triumph at Euro 2016, Portugal appear to have a affordable chance of defending their crown.

 


 

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