Portugal hope to put an end to their wait for the FIFA World Cup and will push to lift the trophy in Qatar. It’s likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final participation in the World Cup, as the iconic goal-scorer hopes to win the one competition he has never been able to clinch in his career.
Portugal World Cup 2022 Preview
Portugal Key Player
Cristiano Ronaldo will be the centre of the attention for the Portuguese side heading into the World Cup. He’s going into it at the back of what, so far, has been a pretty disappointing campaign for him at the domestic level. The 37-year-old has only scored three goals for Manchester United and has recently given a scathing interview, lambasting the club for having dropped standards as well as criticizing manager Erik ten Hag.
Despite all that, Ronaldo becomes the major vocal point of his national team and the person around whom the entire attack revolves. He’s scored 117 goals at the international level and has four goal contributions in his last five matches for Portugal. Ronaldo is an iconic goal-scorer and will demand his teammates to get the ball to him in key scoring areas. If they can find him in free spaces inside the box all through the competition, the 37-year-old could script something special and score a lot of goals at the World Cup.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos has been quite flexible with his formations over the course of this year, as he’s lined up his side in a number of multiple shapes in the Nations League games and other matches this year. Portugal prefer the 4-3-3 formation, but also revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation if needed.
Ronaldo is, understandably, at the centre of the team’s success and plays in a number nine role. He’s normally accompanied by right winger Otavio and Rafael Leao is expected to play on the left-wing. Portugal are dependent on playing a defensive midfielder who can protect their backline, while full-backs like Joao Cancelo, Diogo Dalot and Raphael Guerrero provide more attacking threat by romping forward. Santos has been criticized for being too defensive, as he opts his side to sit back, sustain pressure and hit on the break. That has helped Portugal win the Euros and Nations League titles under him and it remains to be seen if it works in the World Cup too.
Portugal Unexpected Star
Otavio is the least popular player in the star-studded Portugal attack. He doesn’t have as many fans as the likes of Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva or Joao Felix have. However, he is effective in his role. The 27-year-old FC Porto winger has registered 6 assists and scored a goal in 18 appearances for his side this season. He isn’t that fancy, but gets the job done on the right-wing. Otavio’s clever passing, link-up play and crosses from the wings can definitely benefit Portugal. He’s someone which opposition teams can take for granted, as they’ll be focused on marking the likes of Ronaldo or Fernandes. He can use that little freedom to soar in the attack, creating major chances and also trying to sneak into key areas to score goals when the others can’t.
Portugal World Cup Prediction
Portugal have been placed in a tricky group alongside Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea. However, knowing the star power in their team and sheer quality, they should be able to progress to the knockout stages as group toppers. They’re likely to face Switzerland or Serbia in the Round of 16, which will definitely be a tricky game. Knowing their defensive prowess and experience in such situations, they should progress to the quarter-finals.
However, defeating an in-form Brazil side can be extremely difficult. Brazil have a stacked team full of players with years of experience. They’re also defensively sturdy now and helped by a brilliant Alisson in goal. It’s probably in the quarter-finals that Portugal’s World Cup ends. But, if they can show character to win this one, it won’t be surprising if Ronaldo & co go all the way to win the title.
𝗙𝗢𝗧𝗢 𝗗𝗘 𝗙𝗔𝗠𝗜́𝗟𝗜𝗔. 😁🇵🇹 Estamos prontos! 📸
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 20, 2022