Portugal's 8 best lineups from A to H
Portugal played a heavily rotated side against Scotland in the friendly clash on Sunday; but just how understrength were the Seleção in that 3-1 triumph?
To find out, 8 national team lineups from A to H were constructed to see both the depth of the current national pool and how far down the regular pecking order some of the players that featured at Hampden Park would typically be.
Here, you can see a hypothetical list of Portugal's 8 best teams from strongest (A) to ''weakest' (H). No player has been named more than once, and are picked not only on their overall ability, but also in terms of their ability to fulfil a specific position/role within the team and in terms of what is believed to be Fernando Santos’ preference.
Portugal A Team
Squeezing a certain Cristiano Ronaldo into this team is actually more difficult than one would expect; having seen the 4-3-3 in his absence work so well for Portugal over the last 4 games, Santos may revert back to playing two up top, with Andre Silva and Ronaldo operating alongside each other.
The middle could then consist of a diamond with Bernardo Silva just behind the strikers, or could be flat out of possession to create a 4-4-2, the setup Portugal used at the Euros in 2016 and at this year's World Cup too.
In any case, whether a 4-4-2 or something of a 4-1-2-1-2, this lineup is likely along the lines of what Santos currently feels is his best possible lineup.
Rui Patricio; João Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Mario Rui; Ruben Neves, William Carvalho, Renato Sanches; Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva.
Portugal B Team
A more traditional formation of Portugal teams gone by, there's no doubt that 4-3-3 is definitely one of the options Fernando Santos will be thinking about, and this lineup including six of Portugal's Euro 2016 heroes remains incredibly strong.
A midfield of Danilo Pereira, Pizzi and João Moutinho could quite easily rival many midfield trios of other top quality international sides, and it serves as evidence of the depth Portugal have in the middle of the park.
Cedric and Guerreiro as fullbacks, when fully fit, are an outstanding pairing, particularly for a supposed 'B' team, and the attacking trio is undoubtedly impressive too.
Beto; Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Luis Neto, Raphael Guerreiro; Danilo Pereira, Pizzi, João Moutinho; Gelson Martins, Gonçalo Guedes, Eder.
Portugal C Team
Bruma showed his incredible flair for Portugal against Scotland, a constant threat down the left-hand side, while Rony Lopes is another exceptional wide player. A combination like that wouldn't be out of place in the Seleção main lineup, and are unfortunate that their international game time may well be limited by the sheer strength in depth Portugal have in that department.
Lyon's number one goalkeeper, Sporting's most creative midfielder and one of Benfica's most promising young talents means that this is a lineup that could do very well indeed on the international stage.
Anthony Lopes; Ricardo Pereira, Pedro Mendes, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrão; Sergio Oliveira, Gedson Fernandes, Bruno Fernandes; Rony Lopes, Bruma, Paulinho.
Portugal D Team
A Barcelona regular, yet only in the hypothetical 'D' team for his country. Nelson Semedo, who has already played in 5 of his side's 8 La Liga matches this season - in addition to playing the entirety of the Champions League outing against Tottenham - is a victim of the strength Portugal have at right back.
With João Cancelo, Cedric Soares and Ricardo Pereira all phenomenal options on the right, Semedo's 8 caps may not be added to for a while.
With the experienced trio of Euro 2016 heroes Adrien Silva, Jose Mario and Ricardo Quaresma also present in this lineup, there’s good reason to believe that, even if all 33 players ahead of them in the pecking order were somehow unavailable, Portugal could still field a highly competitive side.
Claudio Ramos; Nelson Semedo, Daniel Carriço, Ricardo Ferreira, Kevin Rodrigues; Adrien Silva, João Mario, Manuel Fernandes; Ricardo Quaresma, Rafa Silva, Lucas João.
Portugal E Team
Incredibly, with so many top-quality Portuguese players bursting onto the scene in the past couple of years, Portugal vice-captain Nani, who was undoubtedly one of the most crucial players Portugal had at the Euros in 2016, has really dropped in the pecking order. So much so, in fact, that he'd probably only make a Portugal E team starting lineup.
With Barcelona loanee Andre Gomes also in the side, in addition to Wolves duo Helder Costa and Ruben Vinagre, there's plenty of talent in this lineup, even if it is far from the strongest possible Portugal eleven.
Eduardo; Diogo Dalot, Rolando, Paulo Oliveira, Ruben Vinagre; Palhinha, Andre Gomes, Andre Horta; Helder Costa, Nani, Rui Fonte.
Portugal F Team
There's perhaps a marked drop in quality with this lineup, although still some talented players and first-team regulars at club level included.
Andre Almeida, for example, is Benfica's undisputed number one right back, but is only number 6 for his nation, again testament to the strength in depth in the right fullback area. Vieirinha, for example, the leftback in this side, was originally a right-sided player, even selected as Portugal's backup right back at the Euros two years ago, but he has since been used as a leftback with Greek outfit PAOK.
Ricardo Horta has also been an absolute sensation for Braga this season, while a fully fit, in-form Ivan Cavaleiro is a top class winger. With the passing ability of both Tarantini and Andre Andre in the middle of the park, there's still a lot of excitement in this side, even if it is Portugal's sixth string lineup.
Jose Sá; Andre Almeida, Ruben Vezo, Diogo Leite, Vieirinha; Xeka, André André, Tarantini; Ricardo Horta, Ivan Cavaleiro, Raphael Leão.
Portugal G Team
Down to team G then, and still a few impressive names in the lineup. Wolves man and Portugal U21 captain Diogo Jota the most notable inclusion, again a victim of Portugal's depth out wide, while Daniel Podence is also an exceptional footballer, now at Olympiakos.
Nelson Oliveira is the striker in the side; one of the few out-and-out, physical strikers Portugal have had in recent years, Oliveira has been a good performer for Norwich over the years, but game time is now, due to managerial preference, practically nonexistent. More game time and he could be pushed up into a higher-ranked lineup, such is Portugal's striker limitations.
The inclusion of Alfa Semedo is slightly controversial; having never played for Portugal, the Guinea-Bissau-born defensive midfielder may opt to play for his country of birth, although it is believed that representing Portugal is something he'd be interested in. His club teammate, João Felix, is another notable inclusion in the side, the teenage star possessing the flair to lead any side to victory.
Marafona; Ricardo Esgaio, Andre Pinto, Edgar Ié, Antunes; Alfa Semedo, Tozé, João Felix; Daniel Podence, Diogo Jota, Nelson Oliveira.
Portugal H Team
And finally, team H. Three English Championship players in the lineup here with Figueiredo and João Carvalho of Nottingham Forest present in the eleven alongside Norwich's right-back Ivo Pinto. Roderick Miranda, who played for Wolves in England's second tier last season, is also included.
It's certainly not the strongest of sides, the vast majority of the players probably not even on Fernando Santos' radar, and whether they'd be able to be at all competitive on the international stage is up for debate. But, with João Filipe on the wing, joined with other exceptional talents such as Bruno Xadas and Joao Carvalho, a share of success would still be at least possible.
Joel Pereira; Ivo Pinto, Roderick Miranda, Tobias Figueiredo, Eliseu; Pêpê, Andre Simões, João Carvalho; João Filipe, Xadas, Gonçalo Paçiencia.
Team versus Scotland:
XI against Scotland (with team rank): Beto (B), Cedric (B), Ruben Dias (A), Neto (B), Kevin Rodrigues (D); Danilo Pereira (B), Sergio Oliveira (C), Bruno Fernandes (C); Helder Costa (E), Bruma (C), Eder (B).