Portugal could follow Spain to an early exit from World Cup
The early demise of old rivals Spain at this summer’s World Cup may have been greeted with joy by Portugal but any laughter could soon turn to tears if the Selecao stumbled to a similarly prompt departure in Brazil.
Like La Roja, Portugal head into their second group fixture reeling from a surprise thrashing at the hands of one of their so-called World Cup rivals.
Hammered 4-0 by Germany, Paulo Bento’s team were not only outplayed by Die Mannschaft, but also incurred a series of injuries and suspensions that are threatening to derail their campaign before it has even begun.
The major casualty of the encounter was Real Madrid star Fabio Coentrao who pulled up with a thigh injury in the second half of their group opener and has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament.
Rumours have also emerged suggesting that Cristiano Ronaldo is a major doubt for their next game, having withdrew from training amid reports that a knee problem could yet hamper his impact.
While some within the Portugal camp have moved to assure fans that CR7 is fit and ready, question marks remain over the World Player of the Year, who could be a key absentee for the Selecao against the Americans.
Away from injuries an inherent lack of discipline within the Portugal squad has already caused problems and could yet lead to more.
Pepe’s straight red card for a headbutt on Thomas Muller was bad enough, but images of Raul Meireles giving the referee the middle finger paint a picture of an ill-disciplined Portugal team, the likes of which we haven’t seen since their 2002 shock defeat to Team USA.
Back then star striker Joao Pinto incurred a six-month ban from all football after punching referee Angel Sanchez in the aftermath of his dismissal.
Bento came on as a substitute that day and while not at the heart of any of those confrontations as a player, nevertheless took a dim view of the officials in their loss to Germany, claiming they “showed bias” in a series of comments that appeared to deflected any suggestion Portugal played poorly.
“There were two occasions when the referee showed bias, first with the penalty and then with the sending off,” he said.
“I am not saying it was only the referee’s fault. We also made mistakes but the circumstances of what happened in the first half made the rest of the game difficult for us.”
Under pressure and out of form, Portugal could be about to relive their 2002 nightmare all over again. Portugal are 4/6 with Ladbrokes to exit the World Cup in the group stage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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