Portugal, ranked 10th in the world, have always been tough customers. Though, as a team, they lack the ammunition to go all the way, they can spoil the party of their opponents. Paulo Bento, their head coach since 2010, knows very well that his team has to perform exceedingly well to hope for a good finish this time around.
Route to qualification
Portugal’s ride into Euro finals was bumpy, to say the least. Their first game was a 4-4 draw against Cyprus, a team that was not even among the top 100 teams in the world. Things went from bad to worse when they lost 0-1 to Norway a couple of days later. A month later, they got their first victory with a 3-1 score against Denmark. They defeated Iceland too by the same score-line before prevailing 1-0 over Norway. Exactly a year after playing out a draw with Cyprus, Portugal trashed them 4-0. They next defeated Iceland 5-3 in a high-scoring clash. They would have qualified directly as group winners had they won their last game against Denmark. But the Danes had other plans and they overpowered the Portugese 2-1 to emerge as group winners. Portugal had to win the head-to-head tiebreaker against Norway to qualify for the finals. They did qualify on account of superior goal difference in the qualifiers, despite a 1-1 score-line against Norway.
European Championship history
Portugal played in the Euro only five times but every time they played they reached at-least the quarterfinal stage of the event. In their first ever European appearance, in 1984, they lost 2-3 to France in the semifinal, who went on to win the trophy. France halted them again in the semifinal of Euro 2000. Their best ever finish was in Euro 2004, an event that was hosted by them. They finished runners-up to dark horses Greece, losing 0-1 in the final.
Had the Portugese been in any group other than Group B, they would have almost certainly qualified for the knock-out stages. However, as fate would have it, they are drawn in Group B and will play against Germany, Netherlands and Denmark. Qualification to the knockout stages is likely to be a three-way tussle between Portugal, Netherlands and Germany. Their first game is against the evergreen German brigade on 09 June, 2012. Four days later they play against the Danes before concluding their group proceedings against the mighty Dutch on 17 June, 2012.
The squadGoalkeepers: Rui Patricio, Eduardo, Beto Defenders: Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, Miguel Lopes Midfielders: Hugo Viana, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Ruben Micael, Custodio Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Helder Postiga, Nani, Nelson Oliveira, Ricardo Quaresma, Silvestre Varela
Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo can be the superstar of Portugal? Portugal’s entire attack has been formulated around this exceptionally talented footballer. Already the third highest goal-scorer for his country, Ronaldo is one of those born-once-in-a-generation players. He has been at his belligerent best for Real Madrid, scoring more than 40 goals last season. Opponent defenders would have a nightmarish time as they try to pin him down and keep him quiet on the field.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.