Team Profile: Portugal

Things started brightly enough for Portugal in the European qualifiers.


  • Coach: Carlos Queiroz
  • Goalkeepers: Eduardo (FC Braga), Beto (FC Porto), Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis/Greece)
  • Defenders: Duda (Malaga/Spain), Bruno Alves (FC Porto), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea/England), Miguel Brito (Valencia/Spain), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea/England), Rolando (FC Porto), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Pepe (Real Madrid/Spain), Ricardo Costa (Lille/France)
  • Midfielders: Deco (Chelsea/England), Tiago (Atletico Madrid/Spain), Raul Meireles (FC Porto), Pedro Mendes (Sporting Lisbon), Miguel Veloso (Sporting Lisbon)
  • Forwards: Nani (Manchester United/England), Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid/Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Spain), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen/Germany), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg/Russia), Liedson (Sporting Lisbon)


Style of play: An attacking 4-3-3 formation has been the trademark of the Portuguese national team over the years, and that won't change in South Africa. Pepe, a natural central defender, is deployed as a holding midfielder in front of the back four. It will be his job to break up plays and launch his own team forward. Deco serves as the chief playmaker, but he and Raul Meireles will exploit the space out wide, which means the two wide fullbacks (Miguel Brito and Paulo Ferreira) focus on their defensive duties, instead of venturing forward in attack. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani line up as wingers, but are given the opportunity to roam, while Liedson will serve as the point of attack as the team's lone forward.

1st round matches:

  • June 15 vs. Ivory Coast in Port Elizabeth
  • June 21 vs. North Korea in Cape Town
  • June 25 vs. Brazil in Durban

Projected starting lineup (4-3-3): (GK) Eduardo - (D) Bruno Alves, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Miguel Brito - (M), Pepe, Deco, Raul Meireles - (F) Nani, Liedson, Cristiano Ronaldo


  • The Ronaldo factor: Cristiano Ronaldo has rightfully been lauded as one of the best players in the world, but the general feeling is that he's underperformed for his country. The Real Madrid star is well aware of this, and heads to South Africa with extra motivation - and a motivated Ronaldo is a dangerous Ronaldo.
  • Defence: Although dealing with some injuries, Portugal's defence is solid. Ricardo Carvalho is one of the best central defenders in the game, and he plays alongside talented starters such as Bruno Alves and Miguel Brito.
  • Set pieces: A lot of Portugal's goals come from dead ball situations. With a wide array of dangerous players who can strike the ball - Ronaldo, Deco, Simao et al. - Portugal is a threat to score every time players line up for a set piece.


  • No strikers: Portugal has a wealth of attacking midfielders, creators, and wingers, but what it doesn't have is a proven striker - a target man who can lead the line and score bags of goals. Hugo Almeida, Ronaldo and a host of others were tried as lone strikers in the qualifiers, but none of them really clicked.
  • Lack of depth: Portugal has a pretty strong starting lineup, but once you look past the first 11 players, things look pretty bleak. There are few quality reinforcements on the bench, so the team would be in real trouble if Carvalho or another playmaker succumbed to injury or suspension.
  • Tough draw: Forgetting North Korea for a second, Group G will be a tough group to emerge from for Portugal. The Portuguese start off with a match against the Ivory Coast, the best African team at the tournament, in a must-win game. And Portugal's last game, another must-win, is against no less of an opponent than Brazil.

Players to watch:

  • Ricardo Carvalho - Carvalho is famous for his excellent timing when committing last-ditch tackles, particularly sliding tackles. Although he sometimes tip-toes the line between a perfect challenge and a reckless lunge, Carvalho always tries to size up his attacker before throwing his feet forward.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo - Style and flair are Ronaldo's defining traits on the field. His graceful showmanship, movie-star looks and effortless mastery of the game have endeared him to a diverse group of fans. With his blinding speed, amazing control and dribbling skills, Ronaldo is a threat to score every time he has the ball at his feet.
  • Simao - The talented winger was Portugal's top scorer in the qualifiers (with four goals), but his real strengths are his dribbling skills and speed, which he uses to great effect whenever he has the ball.

Key injuries/squad omissions: Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz included Pepe in his roster even though the Real Madrid defender hasn't played since suffering a knee injury in December. Queiroz dropped defender Jose Castro from the team after doctors said Pepe was fit to play. The Portuguese coach also selected striker Danny, who didn't play for almost a year after a serious ligament injury in May 2009. Chelsea fullback Jose Bosingwa missed out after undergoing knee surgery following an injury suffered last October.

Prognosis: First-round exit or second round. Four years ago in Germany, the Portuguese went on a magical run, scalping the Netherlands and England en route to reaching the semifinals. Don't expect a repeat performance in South Africa. The team's lack of an outright striker is a major problem, as is the fact that two key defenders, Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho, have both missed significant time this season due to injury problems. With Brazil assured of first place in Group G, Portugal will be battling it out for second with the Ivory Coast - no soft touch. Portugal might sneak through to the second round, but chances are the Africans will edge ahead for the second spot.


  • Current FIFA ranking: #3
  • Qualification route: Portugal finished in second place (19 points) in Europe Group 1 behind Denmark (19 points). Portugal then defeated Bosnia in a two-game playoff, winning 2-0 on aggregate.
  • Key to qualification: The resolve and quality of Portugal's defence is often called into question, but Ricardo Carvalho and his cohorts have surely silenced their critics by now. Five goals against and nine shutouts in 12 games is a clear indication that Portugal's defence is one of its strengths.
  • Crucial result: A 1-0 win over Bosnia (Nov. 18, 2009, in Zenica) in the second leg of the European playoff series clinched a World Cup berth for Portugal.
  • Qualifying record: 12 games played, 7 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss
  • Goals for: 19
  • Goals against: 5
  • Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Simao (4)

Qualifying results: (home team listed first)

  • Sept. 6, 2008 - Malta 0, Portugal 4
  • Sept. 10, 2008 - Portugal 2, Denmark 3
  • Oct. 11, 2008 - Sweden 0, Portugal 0
  • Oct. 15, 2008 - Portugal 0, Albania 0
  • March 28, 2009 - Portugal 0, Sweden 0
  • June 6, 2009 - Albania 1, Portugal 2
  • Sept. 5, 2009 - Denmark 1, Portugal 1
  • Sept. 9, 2009 - Hungary 0, Portugal 1
  • Oct. 10, 2009 - Portugal 3, Hungary 0
  • Oct. 14, 2009 - Portugal 4, Malta 0
  • Nov. 14, 2009 - Portugal 1, Bosnia 0
  • Nov. 18, 2009 - Bosnia 0, Portugal 2


  • Number of Previous World Cup Appearances: 4
  • All-time record: 19 games played, 11 wins, 1 draw, 7 losses
  • Goals for: 32
  • Goals against: 21
  • Biggest victory: 4-0 vs. Poland in 2002
  • Biggest defeat: 3-1 vs. Morocco in 1986 and 3-1 vs. Germany in 2006
  • Overall top scorer: Eusebio  (9 goals)
  • Most appearances: Luis Figo (10 matches)
  • Hosted the World Cup: Never

World Cup track record

  • 1930 - Did not enter
  • 1934 to 1962 - Did not qualify
  • 1966 - Semifinals (3rd place)
  • 1970 to 1982 - Did not qualify
  • 1986 - First round
  • 1990 to 1998 - Did not qualify
  • 2002 - First round
  • 2006 - Semifinals (4th place)



  • FIFA member since: 1904
  • Team nickname: Selecçao das Quinas
  • All-time caps leader: Luis Figo (127)
  • All-time leading scorer: Pauleta (47 goals)

Notable Achievements

  • Under-20 World Champions: 1989, 1991
  • Under-19 European Champions: 1961, 1994, 1999
  • Under-17 European Champions: 1989, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003

Legendary Players

  • Eusebio: Eusebio da Silva Ferreira joined Portuguese powerhouse Benfica as a 19-year-old in 1961 and quickly became one of the best players in the world. He scored nine goals in the 1966 World Cup, finishing as the tournament's top scorer and helping Portugal to a third-place finish. Considered one of soccer's greatest stars of all time.
  • Luis Figo: One of the best players of his generation, Figo played at the highest level with a number of big European clubs, including FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Voted European player of the year in 2000 and FIFA world player of the year in 2001, Figo helped Portugal reach the finals of Euro 2004 and the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.