Undrafted – The Network
Football

Euro 2020 – Are Portugal Dark Horses?

Now it might seem weird to talk about current holders as dark horses, but with the French cruising to World Cup victory in 2018, they are undoubtably favourites.

On paper, the English also have a strong hand going into the summer, but we’ve seen it all before, and I’ll only believe England can win it once the trophy is being held aloft by Harry Kane.

With both the above mentioned teams fetching most of the speculation about winning the tournament, many people are forgetting that Portugal actually hold the title of current European Champions.

The Team

Many football fans know of Portugal because of star player Cristiano Ronaldo, however, this current Portuguese side consists of much more than the superb Ronaldo.

I think this could actually be one of the strongest Portuguese sides of recent history, so let’s delve deeper!

Goalkeeper

Rui Patricio is currently the Portuguese number 1. Credit; Birmingham Mail

Portugal have a number of experienced goalkeepers who could make the squad. Rui Patricio is first choice for Wolves, however manager Fernando Santos may have a dilemma on his hands.

Patricio was injured during the last international break, meaning veteran Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes started all 3 matches in March.

I still believe Patricio will be between the sticks come June, but in Lopes and Jose Sa, they have two very capable backups.

Defence

Ruben Dias has been a revelation for Manchester City this season. Credit; 90 Min

Before really analysing the Portuguese side, I was slightly worried about their defence. However, English champions Manchester City form a strong base of the back line.

Ruben Dias has proved himself to be one of the best central defenders in the world since making the switch to England, and will line up in the heart of defence. Alongside him to his right, will be fellow Manchester City star Joao Cancelo.

Cancelo is renown for his strong attacking runs, but his pace allows him to cover the whole right side in a heart beat.

The two major unknowns in the Portuguese side must be the other centre back, and the left back.

At 37, Jose Fonte isn’t getting any younger, but is probably the best bet to partner Ruben Dias, with Domingos Duarte having a tough season for Granada.

It seems as if young Sporting Lisbon defender Nuno Mendes has made the left back spot his own. At just 18, Mendes will be going into his first major championship on the back of winning the league with Sporting, so shouldn’t lack confidence.

Midfield

Bruno Fernandes has had another record breaking season for Manchester United. Credit; Planet Football

After a sizzling domestic season, Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva is set to line up in attacking midfield, or maybe slightly deeper.

Alongside Silva, will be Manchester rival Bruno Fernandes. Fernandes comes into the tournament on the back of yet another outstanding year for Manchester United, netting over 25 goals in all competitions from midfield.

Completing the midfield trio, I expect to be 2016 Young Player Of The Tournament, Renato Sanches. Sanches has probably had the best season of his life with Lille, and is finally displaying the potential we all knew he had.

Attack

Cristiano Ronaldo needs no introductions. Credit; Goal

It seems as if this Portuguese side gets stronger through the team, with the forwards providing a serious threat to any defence.

The first player is obvious. One of, if not the best footballers ever. Cristiano Ronaldo is probably coming into Euro 2020 knowing this is his final major tournament for his country. After his injury in the 2016 European Championship final, it wouldn’t surprise me to see CR7 want to prove a point, and win the final after playing the full match.

Joao Felix is a serious talent, and has shown glimpses of what he is capable of since his mega money transfer to Atletico Madrid. His skill and speed will link up perfectly with Ronaldo, and the pair will undoubtedly score and assist many goals this summer.

Completing the Portuguese starting 11, I would expect Liverpool star Diogo Jota to line up alongside CR7 and Joao Felix if he can recover from injury.

Despite having a stop-start season due to injury, the 24 year old has had an outstanding first season in Liverpool. If all 3 front men are fit and raring to go, they’ll be a massive handful for even the most experienced defender.


Conclusion

So can Portugal go all the way? It really wouldn’t surprise me.

They have the team, the talent, and the perfect mix of youth and experience.

Oh, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Related posts

Premier League Predictions 20/21 – Week 2

Ant Ierubino

Chelsea FC 2020/21 – Half Season Player Review

Chris Juffs

Top 10: Footballing Talents 2021

Chris Juffs

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: