After shocking everyone to win the Euro 2016, Portugal will look to repeat the success in the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Portugal announced the final 23-Man Squad last week and head coach Fernando Santos has omitted several players from that Euro 2016 winning squad.
Since taking over as Portugal national team coach, Santos has turned Portugal into a very hard team to beat. They won 9 of their 10 qualification matches and still only topped Group B on goal difference.
Santos’ men will start their World Cup campaign against Spain on June 15 in Sochi before playing Morocco and Iran on the 20th and 25th of June respectively.
Without further ado, let us look at the strongest Portugal line-up that Santos could field at the World Cup.
Probable Portugal XI
Manager: Fernando Santos
Rui Patricio (GK)
Rui Patricio has been the undisputed first-choice in goal for Portugal over the years and that won’t change at the World Cup.
Cedric Soares (RB)
Southampton’s Soares had a decent season on a personal note, just avoiding relegation in the Premier League. A lively and energetic presence on the right, Soares is expected to start in Russia.
Pepe continues to remain the bedrock of Portugal’s defence and is likely to marshal the backline if he attains full fitness before the World Cup.
Jose Fonte (CB)
Partnering Pepe at the heart of defence should be Jose Fonte. Strong in the air and a top tackler, Fonte has to be at the top of his game if Portugal are to make progress in the World Cup.
Raphael Guerreiro (LB)
Raphael Guerreiro, who missed much of the qualifying campaign due to injury concerns, is the first-choice at left-back for Santos. The Borussia Dortmund man will be hoping to impress in the mega event in Russia.
William Carvalho (CDM)
Sitting just ahead of the backline would be William Carvalho, who would be tasked with screening the defence and doing the dirty work. His presence at the base of midfield helps Portugal tick in all departments.
Joao Moutinho (LCM)
A full international since the age of 18, Moutinho is one of the trusted lieutenants of Santos. Capable of playing in central midfield or in an advanced role, the 31-year-old adds a lot of energy and industry to Portugal’s midfield.
Bernardo Silva (RCM)
Bernardo Silva completes the midfield. There is an abundance of attacking talent in the team and Silva is one of the players capable of winning games on his day. Blessed with quick-feet and trickery, the Manchester City ace is one of the players to watch out for in Russia.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW)
Arguably one of the greatest players to ever grace the game, Ronaldo needs to fire on all cylinders if Portugal are to create history in Russia. A lot will be dependent on Ronaldo as the Real Madrid star will be out to win the one trophy that has eluded him so far.
With plenty of skill set and pace to burn, Quaresma needs to fire from the onset of the competition. The Besiktas man has had a very good season and would be confident of delivering the goods in Russia.
Andre Silva (ST)
While Andre Silva has endured a disappointing first season with AC Milan, there is no doubting his talent. Silva’s 9 goals made him the 5th-top scorer in the UEFA qualifying campaign and he would be raring to make an impact at the World Cup.