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Posted by Tom Kundert on 05/27/2010

As discussed in my opening post, expectations regarding Portugal’s chances of going far in the 2010 World Cup are low, and will have plummeted further following the uninspiring 0-0 draw against Cape Verde on Monday.

However, being written off by the international and domestic press, not to mention their own fans, could just be the ideal preparation for the Selecção to cause a surprise… of Greece 2004 proportions. I offer you five compelling reasons why Portugal will excel in South Africa:

1. Fresh as daisies
How many times have we heard national team coaches lament the fact that their star players failed to perform at the world’s biggest football tournament because of exhaustion after a long hard season? A whole host of Portugal’s top names will not suffer from this problem. Cristiano Ronaldo, Danny, Nani, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Pepe were all laid low for significant chunks of 2009/10, either due to injury, suspension or selection criteria, meaning there's plenty of running in them those legs. There is no doubting the talent and big game experience of this half dozen, and being able to call upon extra energy levels unavailable to many rival players will prove a significant advantage.


2. Form guide
So Portugal drew 0-0 with Cape Verde. An embarrassing result, granted, but anyone who saw the lackadaisical attitude adopted by the players and then listened to Carlos Queiroz’s explanation that he had instructed his players not to over-exert themselves will realise nothing can be read into what was essentially a light training exercise. The fact is Portugal have not tasted defeat since November 2008, a run that has seen the Selecção clock up 10 victories and 4 draws. Most of those victories came in must-win games when the team knew the slightest slip-up would have cost them their place in South Africa, so they have proved they can get the results in pressure situations.


3. Watertight defence
During that 14-match unbeaten run, Portugal have conceded the grand total of 2 goals. Yes, that’s right. Just TWO goals have got past Eduardo in 1,260 minutes of football. The Thou Shalt Not Pass triumvirate comprising Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves and Pepe have been ably backed up by something of a rarity in modern times in Portuguese football – a goalkeeper who inspires confidence in his defence, Eduardo.


4. Match-winners galore
Hence, few goals will be needed for Portugal to collect wins in South Africa. Just as well, given that finding the net has proved Portugal’s biggest difficulty since Carlos Queiroz took the reins. But fate has conspired to deliver Portugal’s considerable array of firepower at the peak of their abilities. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani ended their club seasons in outstanding goalscoring form and both are perfectly capable of conjuring a goal out of nothing against the best of opposition. Zenit St Petersburg forward Danny has rediscovered the form that saw him destroy Manchester United in the 2008 European Super Cup, scoring goals and providing assists aplenty as the Russian season opened.

These are the players in form, but Deco has proved he can still mix it with the best, Liedson has one of the best strike rates in top-level football, and Bruno Alves and Pepe provide a potent threat in the air. With goals liable to come from so many areas of the field, Portugal will not fire blanks this World Cup.


5. It’s written in the stars
Mid-way through the qualification campaign Portugal’s hopes of making it to the World Cup appeared in tatters. The team had beaten only Malta and sat in fifth place in Group One, behind the likes of Albania, while Denmark, Hungary and Sweden seemed to be beyond reach. The next game was away in Albania. Just as a poor performance seemed to have put the final nail in Portugal’s World Cup coffin, Bruno Alves popped up to nod home a hopeful punt into the box and reignite the Selecção’s hopes.

Later, in Denmark, after outplaying the hosts, Portugal’s profligacy in front of the net again looked to have dashed their chances, before Liedson headed in a crucial equaliser five minutes from time. Even then, Portugal needed Sweden to drop points in Denmark, but again, results fell their way. An incredible resurrection act was all but complete, and confirmed by the classy manner in which Bosnia-Herzegovina were dispatched in the play-offs.


Fresh legs, good form, the stingiest of defences, game-changers galore and blessed by the Gods – It’s in the bag!


Comments

Posted by Jamesy on 05/28/2010

great article, keep us (the fans) informed =) Portugal Ale!!

Posted by Asif Chowdhury on 05/28/2010

I hope that Portugal will show their best in South Africa, and as they have potential to score goals as well as a solid defence, it will not be easy for the group opponnents to set a easy win againt them, and if they are playing the BEAUTIFUL FOOTBALL, as they have a great player like CR9 and Nani+Deco in Midfield, as well as Carvalho+Pepe in defence, it would be a show-must-see. Best of luck.

Posted by Eyadusmaximusnobilis on 05/29/2010

Portugal has one of the best footballers this decade in Cristiano Ronaldo, a host of great players like Deco, Nani, Danny, Liedson, Simao and a number of dependable midfielders and defenders like Meirelles, Moutinho, Carvalho, Alves and Miguel.
With the mix of rigid back lines and creativity up front they should easily crush North Korea, squeeze past the Ivory Coast, and draw with Brazil or lose by a small margin, they look good value for the second spot in the group, they are likely to meet Spain in the second round and eventhough I am a big CR9 fan and hold most of his colleagues in high esteem I still do not see them match Spain which has the most complete squad and are likely to overcome all opponents including Brazil and Argentina and win it all.

Posted by gunmasterg9 on 05/29/2010

While weaker clubs will ahow more respect to the big stars of Portugal I feel that against tougher competition (as in their group Ivory Coast and Brazil) They may not be able to depends on Christano Ronaldo. I think Portugal will go as far as their Other attacking stars let them.

Posted by jude on 05/29/2010

I strongly believe ronaldo & rooney will outshine other world class players. roon & ron are unarguably the best & players to watch at the world cup.

Posted by renard harriott on 05/30/2010

To me i think Portugal is under rated by the press......i think that they have the potential to score goals from all part of the pitch...they have ronaldo,nani,almeda,leidson..and bruno alves..i also think they will be the surprise team in south africa

Posted by Anonymous on 05/30/2010

I really hope that ronaldo can perform for Portugal. He has has not scored one goal or made an assist in a competitive match since Euro 2008. If Ronaldo can work with the team instead of by himself, Portugal have a really good chance of winning the World Cup.

Posted by Lincoln Hirschi-SLC,UT on 05/30/2010

Portugal most assuredly has what it takes to compete w/ any one in this World Cup. I think that being under the radar will help. That and they have the best-looking kit! Another power to watch out for is Argentina. Germany and The Netherlands have legit claims to win it all too, and of course Brazil and Spain. USA is a long shot, but I gotta pull for my boys! It's going to be a great month for sure!

Posted by Jesse on 05/30/2010

Portugal will crash and burn and this is just a horrible article. How does having players who suffered injuries or underwent suspensions throughout the season a positive? I'm sure any coach would prefer guys who were playing at top form all year long than injured or suspended guys. Secondly, losing to Cape Verde is inexcusable no matter what the coach's instructions were. Cape Verde has a population of 500,000!

The fifth bullet point is by far the worst. I read "it was written in the stars" as "Portugal got lucky when they should have been able to win it with talent." The very fact that they struggled so much against a qualification group with powerhouses like Bosnia and Denmark is a testament to Portugal's unfitness for world cup in spite of having a few world class players.

There is by far way too much C. Ronaldo fanboyism on ESPN and anyone who think that Portugal has any chance in this world cup has his head in the clouds.

Posted by Coach Lou on 05/30/2010

The only reason Portugal will not do well in this World Cup is because of the coach. Queiroz could be a good assistant at MU but head coach is not. name a team the he coach that won anything in the past 15 years. got fired at Real Madrid, Sporting Lisboa, Metrostars, South Africa National team ETC. The Man is a loser.

Posted by fish on 05/31/2010

A Portuguese speaking team will lift the trophy........BRAZIL!!!!!!

Posted by leo De Matos on 05/31/2010

Hey Jesse above....did you read the article? Wake up! Portugsal did not lose against Cape Verde...it ended in 0-0!

Besides it was a light training practice with many changes for portugal....for cape verde..it was the game of a lifetime....

Spain barely made it against Saudi Arabia...and England needed 2 own goals vs Japan!

Portugal may have struggled...but thy still have the talent and the skills....and a chance like the others!

Population and size of country don't count otherwise the USA or Japan should be world champions every time!

Posted by luis on 05/31/2010

i live in australia and i will be cheering portugal on GO RONALDO cant wait

Posted by Anonymous on 05/31/2010

i believe portugal will go far. potential to go finals. With the skill and tactics from every players, i'm sure they can win the world cup this year

Posted by crack on 05/31/2010

Nah am with Jesse,they haven't shown anything lately and they gotta stop diving there

Posted by verde-rubro on 05/31/2010

crack 54
you must be on crack along with your bud jesse

Posted by ABDI GADAFI on 05/31/2010

HEY I THINK ALL THE 32 TEAMS THAT ARE IN THE WORLD CUP ARE THE BEST 32 IN THE WORLD SO GET OVER PORTUGAL.Lets talk about the over rated spain too many midfielders no chance

Posted by stunna on 05/31/2010

RONALDO IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD,hes going to prove it to everyone,AS A CITIZEN OF SOUTHAFRICA WE KNOW THAT RONALDO IS GOING TO DESTROTY EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CUP,the combination between ronaldo and nani its unexplainable.I RESPECT RONALDO HES THE BEST THAT EVER LIVED am behind ronaldo all the way

Posted by 007 on 05/31/2010

Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Posted by george on 05/31/2010

Portugal is a fine side with plenty of talent. Unfortunately i feel as though they are beginning to suffer the same problem in which England suffered so long before the days of Fabio Capello. Portugal has performed dismally with un-impressive results. Sure cape verde was a "training match" or whatever you'd like to call it, they still drew a much weaker side. I think portugal is just going to fall short in the group of death behind Brazil and Ivory coast, it will be sad to see a team so well not make it past, however i feel they lack that certain swagger a winning team should have

Posted by Chanel on 05/31/2010

The reason the Portugal are so quiet is because Cristiano Ronaldo is feeding of the team when the team has to feed of him. Cristiano is trying to be a playmaker when his job is to attack to play like he played in World Cup 2006. During the Cape Verde game Cristiano played like a midfielder, passed the ball a lot during the first half. The second half of the game he started to play like an attacking midfielder, and started to shoot the ball, that his job be an attacking midfielder and take shots, create fauls, especialy when he is excelent at free kicks.

Posted by Denny on 05/31/2010

never happening

Posted by Ricardo on 05/31/2010

thanks for the article, as it has certainly made me feel better (at least for a very short time). I have never felt so disheartened about the seleccao pre big tournament since Euro 96. In fact this very much reminds me of 2002 when the team was full of out of form/past their best players. The result was of course absolute disaster. So for me, making it past the group stages would already be a success. But let's hope that Portugal can surprise the world!!!

Posted by Sree on 05/31/2010

Portugal has over achieved in euros and 06 wc . If they somehow get out of the group stage and meets spain in knock out then god help portugal . ronaldo the fake one has always been in pique's bag . Spain was taking it lightly against one of the top teams in asia , who qualified for wc previously and saudis were fearless against spain . The most balanced team in the world with world class players in every positions even on their bench playing continuously with confidence after usa shock , with a champions league winning manager who said that they won't fall into counter attacking traps as Barca did . I see no chance for portugal against spain . I think maradöna may pull out a rabbit from the hat this time .

Posted by Alfonso on 05/31/2010

I agree that Portugal has the quality to advance in the WC. Without question their defense has been outstanding and their midfield play has been excellent. The key will be their offense. Can they convert their chances to goals. They have had the tendency to waste many good scoring opportunities. Also Paulo Ferreira CANNOT start at full back - his marking sucks he was the reason why we lost to Germany at the last WC

Posted by Joseph on 05/31/2010

Clutching at straws :)

Posted by Mário Barros on 05/31/2010

Ronaldo wants Glory this gone be a 86 ronaldo team

Posted by Adam Baker on 05/31/2010

Why the sudden change of heart?? The first post was simply writing off the Selecção completely, and the last line of this new post...
"Its in the bag"....
??????
Make up your mind...

Posted by Andrew on 06/01/2010

I think everyone is forgetting that Tiago got hurt in the Cape Verde game and they played with only 10 men and STILL DOMINATED all the play... and Bosnia was not in Portugal's group, they drew them in the qualification playoff

Posted by cbabs on 06/01/2010

First of all, Cristiano Ronaldo is an amazing footballer but he's nowhere near the best - he cannot lead a team, or even carry a team - same with Rooney who is a bit overrated in my opinion
Also, what's with him and diving? Grow a pair Ronaldo, be agressive and stop jumping all over the place the moment a guy gets near you, then start crying because your hair got pulled
If Ronaldo played less like a little pansy I'd have the utmost respect for the guy because he does have good talent, and maybe Portugal would actually win something - although I would never pay 80 million bucks for the guy (that's just stupid)

As it is, Portugal will be lucky to get out of the Group Stage - I bet they draw N. Korea and Brazil, but lose to Ivory Coast

Posted by footballjournalist on 06/01/2010

Portugal has a great chance to do well in this WC. If Portugal comes in second to Brazil in the group stage, and Spain wins its group, they will meet up in the round of 16. This match is winnable for Portugal because its the Iberian Derby and anything can happen when you play your main rivals.

NOW!!!! Do I think Portugal will win the WC? No. My main reason for this prediction is based in history. No European country has won the WC outside of Europe. I must state this WC in South Africa will be during winter season, so its possible a European country could end up winning, but its a South Afican winter, not a European winter.

Portugal will do well. Portuagl will get out its group because Ivory Coast is playing horrible at the moment(looked very bad in ACN)and North Korea's footballers do not have the skill level to get 6 points out this group.

I have Portugal going out in the quarter-finals.

Posted by Gabriel on 06/01/2010

Portugal has talented superstars but talent alone will not win World Cups. A deep bench, a little luck, non competing egos and maybe Eusebio coming out of retirement will bring Portugal their first world cup.
Good luck but my money is with Brazil or Argentina.

Posted by Diabov75 on 06/01/2010

The most beautiful think about soccer, is that in any given day, anyone can beat anybody. I am Portuguese American and I also disagree with this article. However, those who say that Portugal's qualifying group was weak and that Portugal struggled to qualify have lost touch with today's soccer. I mean, Russia is out!! France had to play Rep. of Ireland (robbed) to qualify. All I am saying is that the same way the USA beat Portugal 3 to 2 when no one expected in the World Cup, Portugal can not only beat Brazil, but it can beat Spain. Did you expect Turkey to have gone as far as they did in the Euro? Did you also expect the USA to lose to Czech and beat Turkey? The ball is round... God I love this sport!

Posted by Nelson on 06/07/2010

I am South African/Portuguese resident,Portugal will win the world cup due to the huge fan base supporters they have in South Africa,They feel right at home with millions of people supporting them,They have the skill,fitness and want to prove to the world they are the best!They are not ranked 3rd in the world for nothing.

Posted by Anonymous on 06/14/2010

Portugal bring the world cup home. That way we shut them all up

Posted by MilanAces on 06/15/2010

Ronaldo only scores vs. porr keepers like they have in the premier league, Portugal lost 2 games to Greece in 2004 Euros at home, that is like Anderson silva losing a fight to a girl

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About

Tom Kundert first delved into Internet journalism as Soccernet's Portugal Correspondent for the 2002 World Cup. He liked the experience so much he built a site that is today visited by over one million people a month (PortuGOAL.net). English born and bred, he has lived in Lisbon since 1994.

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