World Cup 2014 Group G – Portugal

Outright odds: 29/1
To win group: 11/4
To qualify: 1/2

Full squad: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Andre Almeida (Benfica), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit St Petersburg), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Rafa (Braga), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Nani (Manchester United), Varela (Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg).

Manager: Paulo Bento

World Cup record: Third (1966), Fourth (2006), Last 16 (2010).

 

 

It is commonly said that Lionel Messi needs to win a World Cup to cement his place on the international stage but Cristiano Ronaldo’s first success with the famous trophy would seal a legacy as one of the great players of all time – if he hasn’t already eanred such a high rank in most people’s estimation.

 

 

 

And as much as it seems simplistic to say it, Portugal’s chances in Brazil lie with the Real Madrid man. Not forgetting the amazing performance he had on the club stage, Ronaldo single headedly took Portugal to Brazil through 2 legged playoff with Sweden, scoring the winner in the first leg and then turning around a 2-1 deficit to finish with a hat-trick as Portugal went through 4 2 on aggregate. For good measure he also saved their bacon against Northern Ireland, scoring a hat trick that kept them within touching distance of Russia even though they failed to top the group.

 

 

 

For his club, Ronaldo scored just the (really) 31 goals in La Liga but he played only 30 times and on his way to lifting the Champions League he scored 17 goals in the season, an astonishing amount for the competition even with Madrid winning it.

 

 

The problems for Portugal lie outside him in attack. None of the three other forwards scored more than 13 times in the league this season and Helder Postiga managed just 5 games for Lazio before being ruled out in a bid to prepare for this tournament. Nani was dreadful for Manchester United and Hugo Almeida, as stated previously, only scored 13 this season.

 

 

However, do not make the mistake of assuming Portugal are devoid on quantity. Joao Moutinhio, the central creative influence of the side, has been like clockwork for Portugal in his 66 caps and will once again be key to any chances of progression.

 

It remains to be seen if Miguel Veloso and Raul Miereles get a spot ahead of William Carvalho, a potential Manchester United target, who was so impressive in the away leg against Sweden, and what they lack in the creative stakes is made up for in terms of power and solidility.

 

The defence, their real area of strength as a whole, is amongst the best on the planet. Pepe has been known for a hotheaded temper and fairly poor attitude at times but his current season for Real Madrid was his best bet and he was instrumental in shutting Bayern out through the semi final and alongside with Burno Alves he makes a mean pairing, one that shut out Spain in the Euros over 120 minutes. Fabio Conetrao’s partnership with Ronaldo on  the left is a huge bonus and he brings an elite feel to a rear-guard that protects Patricio excellently, with Joao Piero on the right side. However, one can’t escape from the feeling that Ronaldo will be the man to lift this side to glory in the latter stages should they make it.

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