Euro 2016 Burning Question: Who will aid Ronaldo for Portugal?

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Euro 2016 is now rapidly approaching and here at Ladbrokes News we will be looking at each of the fancied nations and attempting to answer a big question relating to each of their chances of winning the tournament.

We started with hosts France and now move onto Portugal, as coach Fernando Santos has already named his 23-man squad for the competition.

Fabio Coentrao, Bernard Silva, Miguel Veloso, Danny and Tiago are the main omissions because of injury, while there is a clear shift in strategy from recent competitions.

Virtually half of the squad were not included in Portugal’s World Cup 2014 party and for 10, Euro 2016 represents their first senior tournament.

Here is a unique look at the final 23:

Portugal are 16/1 to win Euro 2016 and on paper they seem to have been dealt a favourable hand in Group F, with supposed minnows Hungary and Iceland in opposition, alongside potential dark horses Austria.

Friendly Clues

Since securing their qualification to Euro 2016, Portugal have been involved in four friendlies – winning two (against Luxembourg and Belgium) and losing the other pair (to Russia and Bulgaria).

The one problem that has plagued Portugal for years is a shortage of top-quality players to lead the line. The likes of Nuno Gomes and Pauleta did have solid careers, but neither truly looked capable of bringing the nation tournament success.

Nothing has changed heading into this Euros, with Santos overcoming the problem by partnering natural wide-men Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack in the last two friendlies.

The duo possess pace, power and technical prowess to pose problems at their best, although there will be the hope that Nani doesn’t do anything like this in France:

There is the feeling that Portugal may opt for more of a 4-3-3 set-up, with Nani and Sporting Lisbon youngster Joao Mario flanking Ronaldo.

This would also allow chief string-puller Joao Moutinho to play in more of a number-10 role, with two of Danilo, William Carvalho or recent Bayern Munich signing Renato Sanches to operate slightly deeper.

However, this is how Portugal lined up in the latest 2-1 triumph over a mid-strength Belgian side and 4-4-2 looked the chosen formation:

Portugal-Belgium

Nani and Moutinho

Given Ronaldo’s five goals in six qualifiers and the fact that nobody else registered more than two, it is unsurprising and clear that there is a big reliance on the Real Madrid man to almost single-handedly grab the goals to help Portugal win Euro 2016.

However, he will need some scoring support and a reliable supply line to provide sufficient chances.

This is where Nani and Moutinho need to step up to the plate.

Moutinho-Nani

Based on recent events, it seems that Nani needs to bring more of his club form assisting Robin van Persie and co for Fenerbahce to the international arena, while Moutinho has tended to save his best for the Portugal side.

Risky tactics

The prospect of the standard 4-4-2 being upgraded to more of a 4-1-3-2, with Moutinho playing ahead of a holding midfielder, would enhance his capabilities of goals and assists further.

However, playing in such a manner would represent a risky strategy given the ageing and paceless defence that Santos is liable to choose.

Here is how we see Portugal starting in their Euro 2016 opener with Iceland:

Portugal-Iceland-Euros

The average age of this starting back line is 32.5 years, with the full-backs not known specifically for their high-energy games.

Therefore, if Moutinho does play further forward and Danilo has to shield the defence on his own, Portugal may be too open to win Euro 2016.

Yet they certainly have enough attacking talent to be involved in high-scoring games. It goes without saying that Ronaldo is a logical bet to be the Euro 2016 top scorer at 8/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.