With a few weeks to go until we start, European Championship holders Portugal are just outside the leading pack when it comes to being favourites to lift the trophy.1) Defending Champions
Portugal’s feat of winning EURO 2016 was very out of the blue. They failed a win a single one of their group stage matches in what was expected to be a walkover, securing three draws against Hungary, Iceland and Austria, and scraping through as one of the best 3rd place finishers. An extra time win against Croatia, and a penalty shootout win over Poland saw them reach the semi final when they finally won their first game of the tournament in 90mins against Wales. In Saint Denis, against the odds, they found a winner in extra time even after Ronaldo had gone off injured. Their squad is arguably stronger now compared to then, and they also won the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019 by defeating Netherlands in the final.
Portugal have a great look to the spine of their team. An experienced and solid goalkeeper in Rui Patricio. Man City’s star and Premier League Player of Season Ruben Diaz at the heart of defence. Man Utd start Bruno Fernandes in midfield. Atletico Madrid star striker Joao Felix up front. And of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. They are a side that will take some beating.
Pipped in a group with the current World Champions France, and 4 time World Cup champions Germany may seem like a problem, but Portugal know that progressing out of the group means they wont face these giants until later on in the tournament. They won the tournament coming third last time, so why can’t they again? It’s a double edged sword, but beating minnows Hungary should see them pick up the three points they need to get through, especially if they do so by a good margin of goals.
Portugal’s EURO squad comprises of four players over the age of 34: Cristiano Ronaldo (36), Pepe (38), Jose Fonte (37) and Joao Moutinho (34), and truth be told, none of those players (who are likely to start as many games as possible) are the same players of their last major trophy win. They comprise of three of top 4 most capped players in Portugal’s history (Figo being the only player missing), but it will be interesting if such an aging team can go on to play every game and lift the trophy.
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