Defending Champions Portugal to come out on top again?
Ferrando Santos helped the Portugal national football team end their duck of not winning a major trophy since the nation started playing international football back in 1921. After three podium finishes and heartbreaks at the UEFA European Championship in 2000, 2004, and 2012, the Portuguese national side finally overcame their blues and won a major trophy in 2016.
Defending Champions Portugal will walk into the Euros 2020 a stronger side than the one that lifted the coveted trophy back in 2016. Ruben Dias is coming into the tournament on the back of a PFA Premier League Player of the Year award whilst the rise of Bruno Fernandes as an elite playmaker and goalscorer is known to everyone. Joao Cancelo has transformed into one of the best full-backs in the world with both Joao Felix and Diogo Jota getting better with age.
The Cristiano Ronaldo-led squad is no longer dependent on their star forward with the whole squad pitching in with regular contributions as seen in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League success where they beat Netherlands 1-0 in the final.
The defending champions have been drawn in the group of death with Finland, Germany, and France the opponents in Group F. Despite hosting the final of the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive years, Portugal has not been handed an opportunity to play their matches in the world-class facilities of Porto or Lisbon.
Full squad: Rui Patricio, Anthony Lopes, Rui Silva, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Joao Cancelo, Nelson Semedo, Nuno Mendes, William Carvalho, Danilo Pereira, Joao Palhinha, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Sergio Oliveira, Renato Sanches, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Rafa Silva, Joao Felix, Goncalo Guedes, Diogo Jota, Pedro Goncalves, Andre Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo
Rui Patricio was in goal for the Euros 2016 win and the Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper appears as the first-choice goalkeeper going into the next edition of the tournament as well. The experienced goalkeeper had a below-par season in the Premier League but is still expected to stave off competition from his counterparts in the national jersey.
Lyon’s Anthony Lopes and Granda’s Rui Silva are able understudies and deputies for the 33-year old shot-stopper if called upon at any stage of the tournament.
The emergence of Ruben Dias as a commander of defense will come as a huge respite to Ferrando Santos as both Pepe and Jose Fonte are not getting younger any time soon.
Pepe is the ideal partner for Dias in the centre of defense with Jose Fonte and Danilo Periera more than capable back-ups to play in the heart of the Portuguese defense.
Teenager Nuno Mendes has seen his profile rise over the last year but Raphael Guerreiro is expected to be the first-choice left-back with Joao Cancelo the undisputed option for the right-back position. Former Barcelona defender Nelson Semedo will be Cancelo’s understudy during the tournament.
Santos is known to play with a conservative 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 but coming into Euros 2020, the manager has shown adaptability to play a 4-2-3-1 attacking formation as well.
William Carvalho is the best holding midfielder in the squad with Ruben Neves, vice-captain Joao Moutinho, Sergio Oliviera, Joao Palhinha, Renato Sanches, and Danilo Periera capable of playing alongside him in a double pivot.
Bruno Fernandes is the best playmaker in the squad and is expected to take up the No.10 spot with Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva playing as an inverted winger on the right side who can drop in and help with the midfield responsibilities if and when needed.
Portugal’s record appearance maker and record goalscorer with 103 goals in 184 appearances will be leading the line for the Selecao in Euros 2020. The upcoming tournament could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last appearance in the European tournament with age not on the side of the Juventus star anymore.
Liverpool’s Diogo Jota has fought off a late injury scare ahead of the Euros and is the favorite for taking up the left-wing position in his nation’s set-up but Atletico Madrid’s record-signing Joao Felix is also a big candidate for the left-wing slot as well.
The in-form Andre Silva, Valencia’s Goncalo Guedes, Benfica’s Rafa Silva, and Sporting’s young sensation Pedro Goncalves will be waiting for their chance to impress in Euros 2020 whether it comes in the starting XI or from the bench.
Best Starting XI: Rui Patricio, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, William Carvalho, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo (C)
Predicted finish: Semi-finals