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World Cup Preview Group G: Portugal

Star-studded Portugal looks to make a splash in Brazil

After being eliminated in the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup by eventual champs Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will look to advance further in Brazil. After coming in second during UEFA qualification Portugal had to fend off Sweden in a playoff to even make it to the grand stage. With some of the best wingers on the planet, Portuguese manager Paulo Bento will be looking to his stars to outduel some of the most physical teams in the tournament.

Holding down goalkeeper for Portugal is Rui Patrício. Having started all 12 of Portugal’s qualification games, the 26-year-old will be relied on to step his game up. Since taking over as number one keeper in the 2012 European Championships, Patrício has totaled 29 caps for country. Still relatively new to the international scene, fans will be hoping for a consistent showing down in Brazil.

Unlike some other teams in group G, such as the United States and Germany, Portugal has known their back four since qualifying began. Big name defenders Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrão and João Pereira each played in 10 of the qualifying games. Coentrão and Pepe both have stared on Real Madrid’s back four all season long with Coentrão getting the start in the 2014 Champions League final. Besides Coentrão at age 26, Alves, Pepe, and Pereira are all above age 30. Should temperatures be as hot and humid as expected, it will be something to watch to see how everyone’s stamina holds up.

With one of the most explosive and perhaps expensive midfields in the entire World Cup, manager Paulo Bento has no shortage of dynamic playmakers. Playing out of a 4-3-3 formation throughout qualification, the midfield is highlighted by Monaco playmaker João Moutinho. The former Porto star has excellent vision and technical skills. His passing is quick and accurate, making him great in an aggressive and fast paced offense. Other midfielders included in the final 23 man roster are Miguel Veloso at defensive mid, Raul Miereles opposite Moutinho, and Nani, although he tends to play as a winger up top.

Portuguese manager Paulo Bento is extremely lucky to have the reigning FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo at his disposal. Ronaldo has world class on and off ball skills to complement his lightning fast speed. As we have seen over the past several years, any free kick situation within 40 yards is within striking distance. With Ronaldo occupying the left wing, and Nani playing as right wing, Bento used Lazio-based forward Hélder Postiga in the center during qualifying. Postiga is not to be taken lightly as he had six goals during 10 qualifying games played.

Portugal Projected Starting XI (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Rui Patrício
Defenders: RB: João Pereira; CB: Pepe; CB: Bruno Alves; LB: Fabio Coentrão
Midfielders: CDM: Migeul Veloso; RM: João Moutinho; LM: Raul Miereles
Forwards: RW: Nani; CF: Hélder Postiga; LW: Cristiano Ronaldo

Category: World Cup