Sarah Almas: The World Cup has never been won in football. Never played in the World Cup football final. The crown of the best of the European continent has been won only once. However, the superpower of world football is Portugal. Who are used to playing good football all the time. Wants to win the World Cup. The Portuguese army is will be fulfilling that dream in Qatar – said by many people.
Beginning of Portuguese football:
In 1921, Portugal participated in the first international football. However, Portugal lost 1-3 against hosts Spain in Madrid. Alberto Augusto scored the only goal for the Portuguese in that match. He is Portugal’s first international goalscorer in history.
Portugal first participated in competitive football at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Portugal defeated Chile and Yugoslavia in two consecutive matches in Amsterdam, Holland. Goes up to the quarter finals. However, Portugal lost to Egypt in the quarter finals.
Achievements in International Football:
Portugal’s biggest football achievement is winning the 2016 Euro Championship. This is the country’s first international title. Before that, in 2004, the Portuguese played in the final in the same event. But they lost to Greece in their own soil. Which is still one of the wonders of football history. In addition, three times the team has been third in the best football tournament in Europe.
In 2019, Portugal won the inaugural UEFA Nations League title. In addition, in 2017, Portugal came third in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The 1966 World Cup was taken away:
In 1966, Portugal got the opportunity to play on the World Cup football stage for the first time. It is said that the 1966 World Cup was a Eusebio. What has been taken away from him. Eusebio, known throughout the season as the ‘Black Panther’, was excellent. Hungary, Bulgaria and Brazil lost to Portugal in three consecutive group stage matches.
Portugal’s opponent in the knock out phase was North Korea. Incredibly, within 25 minutes of the match, North Korea took a 0-3 lead. When everyone is ready to see Portugal’s big defeat, Eusebio’s ‘Telesmati’ started at that time. Scored four goals in the match! And in the end, Portugal won 5-3 to reach the semis.
Portugal’s opponent in the semi-final was host England. But the overwhelming speed of Portugal and Eusebio scared the English throughout the tournament. The British fell into the conspiracy. The match was scheduled to be played at the Goodison Stadium in Liverpool. The day before the match, England changed the venue to Wembley. But due to the trickery of the English, the Portugal team had to come from Liverpool to London the day before the match. Due to travel fatigue and various reasons, Eusebio could not play properly in that match. However, he threw the ball into the net of England who did not score a goal in the whole tournament. But England won the match with Bobby Charlton’s double goal.
The third place match of 1966 was history. The two opponents of the match are Soviet Union and Portugal. Opponent Eusebio is the Black Panther and the best keeper of all time Lev Yashin means ‘Black Spider’. Eusebio did not make a mistake in giving him a goal either. “Black Cheetah” saluted Yashin after the goal. Today this match is one of the examples of ‘sportsmanship’.
Football experts believe that if England had not been clever with the semi-finals, the World Cup would have been in the hands of Eusebio in 1966. Eusebio was the top scorer in that tournament with nine goals. Although England won the title, the 1966 World Cup is remembered in history for Eusebio.
Overall results in World Cup:
In total, until 2018, Portugal has participated in the World Cup seven times. Eliminated three times from the group stage. Played the knock out phase in 2010 and 2018. Played semi final in 2006. Europe’s Selecao finished fourth after losing to Germany in the qualifying match.
The number of victories of Portugal is 14 after playing 30 matches in the World Cup so far. Six draws and 10 losses. In the World Cup, the Portuguese scored 49 goals and conceded 35. In the 2010 World Cup in Cape Town, Portugal defeated North Korea 7-0. This is the biggest victory of the Portuguese in the World Cup so far.
Cristiano Ronaldo has played the most four World Cups and the most 17 matches for Portugal. Pepe played three more. The most 9 goals of Eusebio. Ronaldo has a chance to break that record.
Legends of Portugal:
Portugal’s first superstar Eusebio. Who is known to everyone as Black Panther. 1966 World Cup is famous with his name. He spent 1961-74 in club football at Benfica. 580 goals in 575 matches in club career! His number of goals in 64 matches in the country’s jersey is 41. He won the European Cup in the first season for Benfica. He scored a pair of goals against Real Madrid in the final. But at that time Real played the two sides of world football, Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas. But they lost to Eusebio 5-3. Eusebio was the second best scorer in the tournament with six goals. And Puskas scored seven goals at the top. But the final smile is Eusebio.
Benfica won 30 trophies including 11 leagues! Won seven Portuguese League and three European Cup top scorer honors. 1965 Ballon was his. He won the European “Golden-Shoe” twice. Football analysts, players, coaches – all agree that Eusebio was a star ahead of his time. He had all the qualities of an ideal striker of the 21st century.
Portuguese football regained new life under Luis Figo. He conquered the whole world as a winger. His number of assists is 106, second only to Lionel Messi in La Liga. Played in his country Benfica, Real Madrid and Barcelona. His number of goals in 792 matches in club career is 137. And 32 in 127 matches in the country’s jersey. Won 22 trophies including Champions League in 2001-02 season. Not being able to win a trophy despite taking Portugal to the Euro final in 2004 is the biggest pain in his career. Luis Figo’s team finished fourth in the World Cup in 2006. Six times he was elected Portugal’s best of the year. He became the best of FIFA and Ballon once. La Liga’s best foreign player has been voted three times.
Rui Costa, Nani, Ricardo Carvalho should be among the best stars of Portugal’s past. There will also be Ricardo Quaresma, Nuno Gomez, Fernando Pereira and Pauletta or Vitor Baia.
Ronaldo is the king of modern football:
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best in the world of football. The media is forced to say like this. But his goalscoring record and playing style at such a young age, making him the greatest of all time, how does anyone compare to him?
He played the most 191 matches for the country. Scored 117 goals in international football. Ronaldo has the most 10 hat-tricks in international football.
Even though he is currently 37 years old, Ronaldo’s fitness puts any young footballer to shame. However, due to age, he has changed his style of play a little. He is now focused on scoring goals for the needs of the team. He scored six goals in the country’s jersey in the last World Cup qualifiers.
Ronaldo has proven himself to be the best in club football. Ronaldo has the record of 140 goals and 44 assists in the UEFA Champions League. Scored the most 701 goals in club career. His number of hat-tricks in club career is 50.
Ronaldo is the only player in the world who has a record of 100 goals in Europe’s top three leagues. Has the achievement of being selected as the player of the year in three top leagues. He has won all possible individual awards in his career including five Ballon d’Or’, two FIFA Player of the Year and four European Golden Boots. Won 32 trophies for club and country. Among which the country has one Euro and one UEFA Nations League title.
The last 2021-22 season didn’t go too well considering Ronaldo’s sky-high success. He did not get the expected success in his old address Man U. Could not keep the team in the top five of the league table. But it certainly deserves consideration whether Ronaldo was really responsible. Because Man U scored 24 goals in 38 matches with two hat-tricks for the team even in a very bad season. Of which six in the Champions League and 18 in the Premier League. The most important thing is that Man U did not win any match without Ronaldo’s goal. He was selected as the best XI of the EPL. However, due to lack of relationship with coach Erik Ten Haag, he is not able to play regularly this season. Scored only three goals in 16 matches. He was not in the first eleven in all these 16 matches. All in all, Ronaldo is tensed before the World Cup. Which he will try to collect in Qatar World Cup.
No World Cup without Portugal:
At one point in the European qualifying round of the World Cup in Qatar, Portugal fell into a great crisis. Portugal finished second in the group stage after a controversial refereeing decision. And directly, Serbia got the permission of Qatar by becoming the best in the group. However, in the first meeting between the two teams in 2021 in Serbia, Portugal deserved to win. But at the end of the 2-2 draw, Ronaldo’s sure goal was not counted due to the referee’s mistake. The match ended 2-2 as the goal was disallowed for crossing the line.
And in the last match, Portugal lost to Serbia in their own field. From eight matches in the group, Serbia’s points stand at 20 and Portugal’s 17. Being second in the group, Portugal has to play in the play-offs.
This year’s World Cup playoff format was different. It was a four-team fight instead of a direct knock-out playoff between the two teams. Where Portugal had to fight against Turkey and Italy was against North Macedonia. Portugal beat Turkey as expected. And to everyone’s surprise, four-time world champion Italy lost 0-1 to North Macedonia before the second consecutive World Cup. Portugal beat Macedonia in the group final to qualify for the World Cup.
In the play-off phase, everyone kept the current European champion Italy ahead of Portugal in the fight to get a ticket to the World Cup. But before the start of the playoffs, the Portuguese legend Ronaldo said that there is no World Cup without Portugal. Portugal proved Ronaldo’s words true by defeating Turkey and Macedonia.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the maximum six goals for Portugal in nine matches including the playoffs in the World Cup qualifiers. Along with that, he played the main role as usual to take the team to the World Cup.
Portugal’s World Cup Squad:
Portugal has announced a 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar. Where Diego Jotar did not get a place due to injury. There is also no Ricardo Quaresma. Many people think that keeping this 39 years old was necessary to keep the winger Quaresma in the team. However, coach Santos did not keep Quaresma who scored 10 goals in 80 matches.
The 26 man squad includes-
Goalkeepers – Rui Patricio, Diego Costa, Jose Sa
Defense – Joao Cancelo, Diego Dalot, Nuno Mendes, Ruben Dias, Antonio Silva, Pepe
Midfield – João Palhinha, Mathews Nunes, William Carvalho, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandez, Joao Mario, Bernard Silva, Vitinha, Otavio
Forwards – Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Ramos, Rafael Leo, Ricardo Horta, Andre Silva.
A mix of experience and youth in the Portugal squad:
There is no doubt that Portugal’s World Cup squad is very balanced. There are experienced players like Ronaldo and Pep here. Who are the victorious soldiers of many wars. Pepe played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cup teams. But due to injury, he did not play in the last 2018 World Cup in Russia. However, he is staying at the World Cup in Qatar to be held this year. What is surely going to be his last World Cup. He was the oldest player to play in the 2020 Euro Championship. He has scored seven goals in 128 international matches for the country since 2007.
34-year-old keeper Rui Patricio has played 104 matches. Andre Silva, Joao Mario, William Carbalho and Bernard Silva have played more than 50 matches. Rafael Guerreiro and Daniel Pereira are also in this team.
Bernardo Silva is one of the best midfielders in the world today. Can also play in the winger position. He has been with the national team since 2015. Played 72 matches and scored eight goals. This star who emerged from the Benfica academy of his country has been in the English giant Manchester City since 2017. Silva is one of the trusted players of team coach Pep Guardiola. He has already won four Premier League titles for Man City. Was in the best eleven of the last season. The 2019 UEFA Nations League final won the title for the country as the best player. In the 2021-22 season, Silva played 50 matches for the Citizens and scored 13 goals and 7 assists. He has the record of winning treble in 2013-14 season for Benfica. Winning the French League One for Monaco is also notable in his career.
Man City’s Joan Cancelo is one of the best defenders. He was in the last Premier League XI of the year. Why not stay? Even as a full back, he has great dribbling ability. Has great football skills and creativity. He plays a big role in the attack when the team needs it, seeing that he is often thought of as a ‘play-maker’ easily. The proof of which is his three goals and ten assists in 52 matches in the 2021-22 season. He has seven goals in 37 matches in the country’s jersey.
30-year-old Danilo Pereira plays as a center back or defensive midfielder. A regular member of teams like Paris Saint-Germain. In the last season, he played 37 matches in all competitions and scored five goals. He has played 53 matches for the country. His number of international goals is two.
22-year-old Joao Felix is considered the future star of Portugal. He has been playing in big teams like Atletico Madrid since 2019. In the last season, he scored 10 goals in all competitions. Played 23 matches for Portugal, although scoring only three goals. However, Felix who won the title of ‘Golden-boy’ in 2019 could not meet the expectations yet, it is true. But he will get the biggest opportunity to prove himself if he gets a chance in World Cup football.
In addition, AC Milan’s winger Rafael Liao, PSG’s midfielder Vitinha or Porto’s Otavio, Man U Bruno Fernandez are all 23-28. Those who are the future of Portugal. He has already proved himself in the team. With them, Portugal is one of the most balanced teams in Qatar World Cup.
Qatar Mission of Portugal:
Portugal will play in Qatar World Cup in ‘H’ group. Their opponents in the group are Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea. The Portuguese had to leave the 2018 World Cup knock out phase after losing to Uruguay. Uruguay is a strong team with Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani, Jose Jimenez, Diego Godin, Ronald Araujo and Rodrigo Bentacur. On the other hand, South Korea has always been a fighting team. There is a great striker like Song Heung Min in the team. Who is the top scorer in the English Premier League. In 2002, they played in the semi-finals of the World Cup on their own soil in Asia. The party has a great ability to stop the powerful party. Heavyweights like Italy, Germany and Spain have a habit of losing in events like the World Cup. The Koreans even beat Luis Figo’s Portugal in their only World Cup appearance in 2002. On the other hand, Ghana is the established power of Africa. They will not talk to anyone.
All in all, the group stage is going to be very difficult for Portugal. However, in the mission of winning the World Cup, every match should be played as a big match. And although the three groups of the group are fighters, they are definitely not equal to the Portuguese in terms of strength. Where Portugal is in the 9th position in the FIFA ranking, Uruguay is in the 14th position. And South Korea 28th and Ghana 61st. Although the FIFA ranking has no influence in the World Cup, the Portuguese should be placed ahead of the others in any consideration from this group.
Next November 24th, Portugal will enter the field for the first time against Ghana. In the second match on November 28, the opponent is Uruguay. And on December 2, Portugal will play against Asian power-house South Korea.
Impossible, Portugal will not win the World Cup! Let the fans of Brazil, Argentina and other countries have such slogans. Let Bangladesh also say that how can Portugal be a big football country? Let Cristiano Ronaldo and his team answer the rest.