The inclusion of centre-backs Ricardo Costa and José Castro will surprise many, although one of these two players will make way for Pepe should the Real Madrid man prove he has fully recovered from his cruciate knee ligament injury in the training camp to take place at Covilha.
The biggest surprise is perhaps in relation to the back-up goalkeepers. Benfica’s championship winning number one, Quim, and Sporting’s Rui Patrício both miss out as Beto and Daniel Fernandes make the plane to South Africa.
João Moutinho will also feel unlucky not to be on the list having been selected in the squad for every one of Portugal’s 12 World Cup qualifying matches, albeit without seeing much action on the pitch. But even in Moutinho’s case, Sporting’s disastrous season and a poor individual campaign means his exclusion is not a huge surprise.
Attacking threesome on fire
As explained in the opening post, expectations are anything but high ahead of the tournament, although the fantastic form of Portugal’s considerable array of attacking players may start turning some of that pessimism into optimism.
Danny in Russia, Nani in England and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain have all shown they are bang on top of their game as the season closes. All three were missing from action for a substantial part of the past 12 months with injury problems, which could well play in Portugal’s favour as they appear to be in tip-top shape physically and mentally having not had to go through the rigours of a complete season.
Queiroz has probably got a good idea of his starting line-up for the opening match against Ivory Coast. Based on the qualifying campaign and current form the team will not be very different from the following:
Perhaps the most heated discussion of late in Portugal concerns whether it should be Nani or Simão who partners Ronaldo on the other wing for Portugal. You can make a convincing argument for both players.
Simão has big tournament experience, has played 79 matches for Portugal and scored 21 goals, but Nani has been in magnificent form for Manchester United in the second half of the season, arguably becoming the English giant’s second most important player after Rooney. Whoever Queiroz plumps for, Ronaldo is sure to be in good company.
Portugal’s World Cup squad*
Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Braga), Beto (FC Porto) Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis)
Defenders: Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Miguel (Valencia), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Bruno Alves (FC Porto), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Rolando (FC Porto), Pepe (Real Madrid), Duda (Malaga) Ze Castro (Deportivo)
Midfielders: Tiago (Atletico Madrid), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (FC Porto), Miguel Veloso (Sporting), Pedro Mendes (Sporting), Danny (Zenit St Peterburg)
Wingers/Forwards: Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid), Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Liedson (Sporting), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen)
* 24 players named, one of whom will drop out from the final list presented to FIFA