World Cup 2014: Portugal Preview - Ronaldo should thrive under the pressure

Portugal are one of the most difficult teams to predict ahead of the World Cup which starts in a couple of weeks.

The Perception

The perception is that Portugal have some of the best players in the world so it’s strange why they haven’t achieved more in the modern era. They enjoy one of the best players in the world in Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and also have several players linked with Premier League moves ahead of the summer transfer window.

The Reality

Portugal can beat anyone. Ex-Manchester United player Ronaldo is capable of turning it on at any time while there is good experience in the back line provided by United target Fabio Coentrao, Bruno Alves and in midfield through former Chelsea and Liverpool star Raul Meireles. Portugal have been able to hold their nerve, as England will testify, in previous major tournaments but for some reason they never quite get over the line.


The main strength of this Portugal team is the balance of the side. They have every angle covered with experience all over the pitch, a little bit of explosiveness in the middle and players who can turn the match in a split second up front. When they’re good, they play some of the best football in the world and maintain pressure extremely efficiently.


One of the main weaknesses in this side is the cast iron case of the ego. When things go against Portugal then players like Ronaldo can get frustrated very quickly. There are also one or two inclusions in the squad where players have not had a great deal of football over the last 12 months. One of the best examples is Nani, included in the attacking pack despite barely featuring under the guidance of David Moyes at Manchester United.

Key Player

Easy; Cristiano Ronaldo. It will be interesting to see how Ronaldo starts the tournament as he’s reportedly carrying a slight hamstring problem. However, if the Portuguese are going to reach the latter stages of the tournament, Ronaldo is the main man who will get them there. He has the most ability in the squad and he’s the man that any side has to keep quiet.

One to Watch

William Carvalho is facing a huge tournament. He’s been coveted by Manchester United in England, with Chelsea also reported to be interested. The 22-year-old is likely to start the group games against Germany, Ghana and the USA and his role as a holding midfielder is extremely important. He’ll be the player urged to protect the back four and if he plays well, he could come out of the tournament with grounds to demand a better personal deal at Sporting Lisbon or with any side trying to buy him.


Portugal have the ability to go all the way in Brazil, but it’s whether they apply that talent and ability effectively. If they get some early form and momentum going, they could be difficult to claw back but if they don’t start group G well, they’ll have to show a lot of fight and character to get back into the race for the second round.

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