World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Portugal primed for quarters
Past tournaments: 1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Previous Best: Third Place, 1966
How they got here:
By beating Zlatan. Portugal booked their place at a World Cup via the playoffs for the second consecutive tournament thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in the second leg against Sweden. They’d missed out on automatic qualification to Russia, by a point, during the group stage.
Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
37 more international caps than any other member of the Portugal squad, the captain and the small honour of being the current Ballon d’Or holder. Portugal’s hopes rest on one man.
Ronaldo heads into the summer having scored 31 times in La Liga, his fourth consecutive season with more than 30.
CR7’s sublime hat-trick v Sweden is below
Under the radar: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
The young midfielder’s perma-residency in Manchester United rumours means Carvalho is more in the middle of the radar, but it’s unlikely that the many to have read his name would have actually seen him play much football.
A novice of three caps, the combative 22-year-old gave an assured debut in the Sweden playoff second leg which could see him oust Miguel Veloso from the middle of the park.
Team nutcase: Pepe (Real Madrid)
As easy as it was to pick Ronaldo as the star man, the Real Madrid defender’s appearance here was an even more straightforward choice.
Banned for 10 games in 2009 for kicking and punching any Getafe player he could get near, he walked into a referee’s dressing room three years later to call him a “motherf—–“.
Watch Pepe’s attack on Getafe below
How far can they go?
Once they’ve faced, and likely lost, to Germany in the opener, a revved up Ronaldo should fire Portugal to second spot in Group G at Ghana’s and USA’s expense.
A game against Group H’s winners (Belgium if the market is to be believed) will await them should this scenario play out, so a quarter-final spot should be the minimum requirement for A Seleccao.
One trip to that point of the tournament since 1966 means they shouldn’t expect to beat that expectation though.
To win the World Cup: 20/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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