Portugal have the unfortunate record of being the only team to lose a Euro final on home turf when they were on the receiving end of a massive sporting upset as Greece ran out 1-0 winners in the 2004 final. They do however have a consistent record of being there or thereabouts in major tournaments and Seleção will be looking to recover from group state elimination at the 2014 World Cup. Portugal look slightly more assured than they did two years ago and it could be the last chance at glory for many of the squad’s experienced players while it’s an excellent opportunity for many of the country’s younger players to makes their mark.
How They Qualified: Portugal sauntered through Group I in qualifying by topping the group by a 7-point margin with seven wins out of eight and only one loss. A home defeat to new kids on the block Albania in the opening qualifying game will seem like a lifetime ago after assured wins against the likes of Serbia and Denmark. Portugal might fancy themselves a bit here but that record means we are no closer to finding out which Portugal is likely to turn up to the Euros in France.
Tournament History: Runners-up 2004.
Coach: Fernando Santos.
The Portugal boss didn’t enjoy the luckiest career as a player when he had to retire aged 21 due to injury. As a coach he has drifted between Greek and Portuguese football. Notably he won the league with Porto in 1999, the Greek Cup with AEK Athens in 2002 and took the Greek national team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Under Santos Greece reached the knock-out stage for the first time ever and were unlucky to be eliminated on penalties to Costa Rica. During the game Santos was sent off for apparent dissent and was reduced to watching the drama unfold on TV before being handed a 6-game touchline ban. To make matter worse, his contract expired the next day, who knows what would’ve happened if they’d won the shootout.
Nicknames: Seleção das Quinas (Team of Shields)
Key Man: Cristiano Ronaldo.
No, he didn’t select himself for this section and while it might be fashionable to root for the devastating trio of MSN in La Liga, it is clear that the 31-year-old will be shouldering his nations hopes in France. He is an all-round player who is a huge threat at set-pieces as well as possessing mesmerizing dribbling and the ability to leap like a salmon, those being just the beginning of some of his best attributes.
One To Watch: Bernardo Silva. A product of Benfica’s youth system he moved to moneymen Monaco last summer for around $15 million. He represented Portugal in the European Under-19 Championship and was listed among the top 10 talents of the tournament by a selection of UEFA reporters. The 22-year-old could seal a move to either Juventus or Manchester United if he performs on the big stage this summer.
June 14, 3 p.m. vs. Iceland
June 18, 3 p.m. vs. Austria
June 22, 12 p.m. vs. Hungary
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb)
Defenders: Cedric Soares (Southampton), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Pepe (Real Madrid), Eliseu (Benfica), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (Porto), William Carvalho (Sporting), Adrien Silva (Sporting), Joao Mario (Sporting), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Renato Sanches (Benfica)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Fenerbahce), Eder (Lille – on loan from Swansea City), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Rafa Silva (Braga)