The holders head into this summer’s championship in much better shape than in 2016, despite them winning the tournament.
They could well repeat the feat this summer with what is their best team for quite some time. Finally, at age 36, Ronaldo is surrounded by a team of quality players. Now in the twilight of his career, the captain will need his team-mates more than ever. With likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva to provide him with chances, which he tends to finish, this is his last and Portugal’s best chance at winning a tournament.
Group F: PORTUGAL, France, Germany, Hungary
Manager: Fernando Santos
Odds (PP): 10/1
Recent Tournaments: World Cup 2018 (round of 16), Euro 2016 (winners)
FIFA World Ranking: 5th
Bruno Fernandes. With Ronaldo now 36 and evolved into more of a poacher he will need the likes of Fernandes to step up and drag Portugal up the pitch. The Man United man is a natural leader and is another on-pitch captain, along with Ronaldo, Pepe, and Ruben Dias, forming a strong spine. With 28 goals and 17 assists in all competitions he is in fine form and will look to continue that into the Euros and drive Portugal forward from midfield.
Wolves’ Rui Patricio is selected and set to start in goals, with Lyon’s Anthony Lopes in reserve.
Joao Cancelo, who had a brilliant season at City, Nelson Semedo, Raphael Guerreiro, and promising Sporting defender Nuno Mendes make up the full backs. Man City’s defensive rock Ruben Dias, crucial to their title winning campaign will start in defence alongside veterans Pepe, 38 or Lille’s Jose Fonte, 37. Midfielder Danilo Pereira can also fill in at centre half if needed against pacier opposition.
Pereira, William Carvalho and Wolves duo Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves make up a strong midfield. Also included is 2016 wonderkid Renato Sanches, who has revived his career at title winners Lille.
Porto’s Sergio Oliveira and Sporting’s Joao Palhinha are selected after good seasons in Portugal’s domestic Primeira Liga.
In attack Portugal are blessed, with their best set of talent for some time. out wide they finally have some good options in Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva moving on from the days of Ricardo Quaresma and Nani, who flanked Ronaldo for the best part of a decade. Also included are Rafa Silva, Pedro Goncalves and Nations League final hero Goncalo Guedes. Wolves Pedro Neto misses unfortunately out through injury after impressing over the last two seasons.
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the line at striker but in Andre Silva Portugal have an excellent back-up option. Silva has 28 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for Frankfurt this season, bettered only by Robert Lewandowski. Both could even start, with Ronaldo pushed wide, giving Portugal a more direct goal threat.
One to Watch
Pedro Goncalves. Uncapped at senior level, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder has become a key player for Sporting this season. Once part of Wolves academy, Sporting signed him from Famailcao to fill the void left by Bruno Fernandes. He has done just that, scoring 23 goals and providing 5 assists in 32 league games, firing Sporting to a first league title since 2002. His fine club form has earned him a call-up and while he is unlikely to start, he could feature from the bench and is worth keeping an eye on.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Jose Fonte (LOSC Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (PSG), Joao Palhinha (Sporting CP), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United FC), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille), Sergio Oliveira (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)
Forwards: Pedro Goncalves (Sporting CP), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Joao Felix (Atlético Madrid), Rafa Silva (SL Benfica)