A countdown of the 10 most memorable moments of Portuguese football in 2018: PART 8
8. Portugal qualifying for the UEFA Nations League - and hosting it
You know what they say; success breeds success, and that could undoubtedly be the case for Portugal who, after a century of waiting for a trophy, lifted the European Championship trophy in 2016. And now, they have a very decent chance of adding to their trophy cabinet just two years on from that memorable day in France.
The UEFA Nations League is, of course, not quite as prestigious as the other major tournaments on offer for European nations - yet, anyway. Indeed, it doesn’t have the history, the reputation, the prestige that the likes of the World Cup and European Championship have. But to win it would be a good achievement, and would be very welcome to fans of the Selecao who crave to build on the success of two years ago.
And who knows, the UEFA Nations League may one day be considered on par with the likes of the other two major tournaments; being the first to lift it would therefore be even sweeter for the future generations to look back on.
Of course, Portugal have a very long way to go to win it yet, first needing to beat Switzerland in the semi-final, before then having to face one of England or the Netherlands in the final.
But it’s been an excellent tournament for Portugal, who finished as the only unbeaten side in League A, toppling Italy and Poland in the process.
That was, of course, all without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who was left out of the side for each of the four matches played. An excellent achievement that blasts the myth that Portugal are a one-man team, and also shows that Portugal are in good hands going forwards.
The other exceptional accomplishment for Portugal is that their triumph in group 3 means they are going to be the host of the final stages of the competition - the first international football event Portugal have hosted since Euro 2004. A chance to potentially right the wrong from that clash with Greece in the final 14 years ago.
As such, qualification to the final four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League is undoubtedly a highlight of the year for Portuguese football.