Russia is presented as the last chance for Ronaldo can fight for a title that seems complicated, but who will try to get propelled by his tremendous ambition and ‘voracity’.
The Portuguese team faces in Russia its seventh participation in the World Cup with the endorsement of doing it as current European champion, a title that makes her again a candidate to go far in a meeting where she will need the best scoring version of Cristiano Ronaldo and show good feelings in a tough Group B that shares with Spain, Iran and Morocco.
The Portuguese team goes to this World Cup even more forced after winning his first title and looking to improve the benefits offered both in South Africa 2010, where he fell in the second round against Spain, and especially in Brazil 2014, where he could not even pass to the crosses after being beaten by Germany (4-0) and not pass the draw against the United States.
Before, in Germany 2006 it was fourth, year in which nearer stayed to equal or improve its better historical position in a World Cup, the third place of England ’66 under the leadership of the ‘Black Panther’ Eusebio.
His title in France, with the added value of doing without Cristiano Ronaldo, injured at the start of the final, gave access to Fernando Santos to the Confederations Cup this year, tournament that started with a good foot, but where they were separated by Chile in the semifinals, finishing third.
In addition, his qualification to this World Cup was again full of difficulty, although this time he was able to avoid the repechages he needed for South Africa and Brazil after finishing first of his competitive hand in hand with Switzerland, which he beat in the last and decisive day by 2-0.
The goals of Cristiano Ronaldo (15) and the defensive firmness (4 conceded goals) were key to get the direct ticket, but in his preparation for Russia has not finished offering good sensations, with victories against modest Saudi Arabia and against Egypt, against the one that lost with the completed regulation time, and defeat against Holland (0-3) and draws against Tunisia (2-2) and Belgium (0-0). The premiere against Spain on the 15th will mark the way of both.
The ‘tuga’ team continues to circulate around Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and continues to be the benchmark for a block with good wicks, but which opts more for solidity than for football’s brilliance.
Fernando Santos counts in the goal with the guarantee that the solvent Rui Patricio gives him, while in the defense he keeps his central of the last years (Pepe, Bruno Alves and Joao Fonte), accompanied by laterals of good route as Cédric and Raphael Guerreiro
In the center of the field, as usual, a lot to choose from with Willian Carvalho, Joao Mario and Joao Moutinho in the front line, more then the talented Bernardo Silva as a hook with an attack where there is speed put Gelson Martins and the Valencian Gonzalo Guedes .
Finally, in attack, along with the indisputable Cristiano Ronaldo, Santos has found a perfect partner in young André Silva, a 22-year-old AC Milan player who scored nine goals in the qualifying phase.
LAST OPPORTUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN?
Russia is presented, in principle, as the last opportunity for Cristiano Ronaldo can fight for a title that seems complicated, but who will try to get propelled by his tremendous ambition and ‘voracity’.
The Real Madrid striker, again protagonist for the doubts he dropped on his future after winning his fifth Champions League, the fourth as Real Madrid, will reach this World Cup with 33 years, although his demanding physical care and his every time greater presence as auctioneer could give you more opportunities in the future.
Winner of five Gold Balls, Russia will again represent the personal duel with Leo Messi for Madeira, away from injuries this year and more rested than in the last few occasions by the rotations introduced by Zinédine Zidane.
With 81 international goals to his credit, 15 in this qualifying phase, only one behind Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano hopes to find the aim in a tournament that has not been given too well in this regard with only three goals scored, one in each edition he has disputed.
FOLLOWING AMONG THE BEST
Fernando Santos, 63, will try to keep Portugal among the best after achieving success two summers ago at the Eurocup in France and leading the ‘tugas’ to the conquest of his first major international title.
After his brief stint on the pitch – nine years – and a job as an engineer at a hotel in Estoril, one of his teams, the Lisbon coach forged his career on the benches between his native country and that of ‘adoption’, Greece . Thus, in his club curriculum are Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, where he had a young Christian at his command, and AEK Athens, Panathinaikos or PAOK from Thessaloniki, his last team before starting his adventure with the selections .
First it was the Greek team that opted for a coach whose outstanding leadership skills and control of the smallest detail. He took Greece to the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championship and to the second round of Brazil 2014 and from there he made the leap to Portugal, after the dismissal of Paulo Bento. Quickly, he managed to straighten the course of the team and two years later already savored the European Championship.
TECHNICAL DATA SHEET
- World Cups: Seven (1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018).
- Titles: None.
- Best result: Third (1966).
- Winners: European Champion in 2016.
- How it was classified: First of Group B of the European classification.