Predicted Portugal squad for upcoming international break
Another international break is just around the corner, meaning that Fernando Santos is again tasked with choosing his 25-man squad to take on the next bout of Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Portugal have got their qualification campaign back on track after only drawing both their opening games. Back to back victories against Serbia and Lithuania have put them back in pole position to qualify, though have two tricky matches to look forward to later this month, with Luxembourg and Ukraine.
Both are matches that are winnable for the Selecao, but they will have to be wary of complacency against a Luxembourg that have come a long way in the last few years, and a Ukrainian side that are yet to lose a match in the qualifying group.
Portugal host Luxembourg on the 11th October, before travelling to Ukraine on the 14th October. Portugal know that winning 3 of their remaining four matches will be enough to secure qualification.
Here’s our prediction of the upcoming squad, with a couple of players in contention to make their debut for the Portugal national team:
Rui PATRICIO. No doubts about this one. Only an injury will stop the Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper making an appearance in the next Portugal squad, where he is expected to play the full 180 minutes across the two matches. Chance of inclusion: Certain.
BETO: The Goztepe goalkeeper may not have a huge number of international appearances to his name, but his experience makes him an excellent backup to Rui Patricio, even at the age of 37. He is both the number one and captain at his Turkish side, having started all of their 6 league matches so far this season, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process. Chance of inclusion: Likely.
Rui SILVA: Jose Sa has been the third goalkeeper in the squad for a while now, though it could be time to give a certain Rui Silva a chance to travel with the squad. 25 and yet to play a single match for Portugal, his Granada side are flying high in La Liga, having been promoted to the top flight last season, and he deserves credit for his contribution. Chance of inclusion: Highly uncertain.
PEPE: The Porto centreback, even at the age of 36, has been a mainstay in the Porto lineup this season, playing the entirety of every fixture so far for his club other than against Guimaraes, where injury forced him off just before half time. That injury kept him out of the last international break, but back to full fitness, he should be back in the squad for the latest double-header for his country. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Ruben DIAS: Playing for Pepe’s title-rivals Benfica, Ruben Dias is another you can guarantee to be included in the next squad, barring injury of course. He has gone one better than Pepe this season, playing the full 90 minutes in all of Benfica’s matches so far this campaign. A rock at the back. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Jose FONTE: Another centreback, and another player you can say with some certainty will be one of the first names Fernando Santos jots down on his draft sheet. Age 35, he can almost match Ruben Dias’ record for appearances this season, playing the entirety of 7 of Lille’s 8 matches this season - and he’s even the captain. A great servant for the country, and a real late bloomer. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
FERRO: The fourth centreback in the squad - if there even is to be a 4th centreback - is far more difficult to predict. There are a fair few contenders for this spot - Daniel Carrico would perhaps ordinarily be most likely, though the injury he suffered vs Eibar makes his inclusion far more difficult to envisage. To replace him there are several candidates; Olympiakos’ Ruben Semedo, Parma’s Bruno Alves, Montpellier’s Pedro Mendes, even French-born 31-year old Damien Da Silva of Rennes. But Benfica’s Ferro, who like his centreback partner at club level has been everpresent for Benfica this season, is many people’s preferred choice - and likely Fernando Santos’ too. Chances of inclusion: Uncertain.
Raphael GUERREIRO: In at left-back, you can be very confident that Guerreiro will be included in the squad. A useful player at his Bundesliga club, having already been used at central midfield, left-back and left midfield this season, you can expect the the 25-year old to start both Portugal’s games this month, and both times at left back. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Mario RUI: Continued to play fairly regularly at Napoli, his game time has been cut somewhat thanks to the return of Ghoulam to full fitness after a long-term knee injury at the start of last season. Nevertheless, he has done enough to maintain a spot in Fernando Santos’ plans, thanks in part to the fact that Portugal are lacking a little depth at left back. Chances of inclusion: Highly likely.
Nelson SEMEDO: While left back is Portugal’s most stretched position, right back is where Portugal are thriving. That’s why even a starter for Barcelona can sometimes be at risk of missing out on the squad altogether. However, Nelson has had a solid start to the season, and with Joao Cancelo struggling for game time since moving to Manchester City, Semedo’s position in the Portugal squad, at least for now, seems incredibly safe. Chances of inclusion: Highly likely.
Ricardo PEREIRA: As just mentioned, Joao Cancelo has not had the easiest of starts at Man City, unable to break past Kyle Walker for a starting place in the team. In total, he has just 36 minutes of Premier League football to his name so far, a one-minute cameo vs Bournemouth and a 36 minute showing in an 8-0 thrashing of Watford. While he hasn’t impressed, Ricardo Pereira has been in tremendous form for high-flying Leicester City, and it would be a crime if he didn’t get a call-up ahead of Cancelo this time around. Chances of inclusion: Likely.
Danilo PEREIRA: The Porto defensive midfielder was disappointing in his showing against Serbia last month, so much so that he was dropped for the next match versus Lithuania, but we’ve all seen enough of Danilo to know that that was just an off day from a very accomplished midfielder. The Porto captain has played almost every minute of Porto’s campaign this season since returning from an injury that left him out of his side’s shock 2-1 defeat to Gil Vicente on the opening day of the season, and his team have won 8 of the 9 matches that he’s taken part in so far this season. A crucial part of Conceicao’s team. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Ruben NEVES: He has actually been left out of the starting lineup for Wolves’ last two league matches, falling victim to Nuno’s change of formation to bring an end to their disappointing run of form, but he is still widely anticipated to be included in Portugal’s upcoming squad. His passing from deep makes him an ideal deep lying playmaker to start against much more defensive sides in place of Danilo Pereira, meaning that seeing him in the starting lineup to face Luxembourg should not come as a surprise. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
William CARVALHO: Any words required for the Real Betis man? His Spanish club only sit 15th in the league standings, having fallen to a heavy 5-1 defeat to Villarreal last weekend, but for the national team, he is absolutely instrumental to Fernando Santos’ game, playing a far more adventurous role for his country than for his club. Expect him to start both matches. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Joao MOUTINHO: The experienced Wolves midfielder has made no secret of the fact that he can see himself playing for several more years still, despite now being 33 years of age. It would give him plenty of time to add to his 116 caps for Portugal, and you can expect him to continue to be included in Portugal squads for the foreseeable future, even if he doesn’t play the prominent role he once did. Still a great player to have on the bench, though, when requiring more composure in midfield to see out a game. Chances of inclusion: Highly likely.
Bruno FERNANDES: It has been said over and over again, but seriously… where would Sporting be without their talisman? Four goals and four assists in 6 league outings, 6 goals across all competitions, directly involved in at least one goal in every game he has played this season and, in the match that he missed through suspension against Famalicao, Sporting ultimately lost. Sporting have scored just 11 goals in the Primeira Liga so far this season. Bruno’s been directly involved in 8 of them. Nothing more needs to be said. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Renato SANCHES: Since moving to Lille, Sanches has been given more game time than he was afforded at Bayern Munich, which is the most important thing, and has shown evidence of improving week on week. He was included in Santos’ last squad, and it’s feasible to see him earning another spot this time around too. Chances of inclusion: Uncertain.
PIZZI: Another Primeira Liga player that continues to impress, Pizzi is integral to Benfica’s game, playing in all of Benfica’s league matches so far this campaign, with 8 goals and 3 assists in 9 appearances across all competitions. Used as a right midfielder for his club, Pizzi offers great versatility, able to act both as a winger and a central midfielder, ideal for a national team. Chances of inclusion: Highly likely.
Bernardo SILVA: Bernardo, off the back of scoring his first ever hattrick at professional level in that 8-0 thrashing against Watford, has had a very strong season to follow on from last campaign’s phenomenal exploits, and his place in the Portugal squad, so long as he is fully fit, is never in any doubt. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Rafa SILVA: Although not been quite as productive a season as last campaign, Silva has still shown those sparks of brilliance that makes him a tremendous player and an excellent option to have off the bench. His pace and flair means that his impact off the bench is immense and should earn him a place in the next Portugal squad. Chances of inclusion: Very likely.
Goncalo GUEDES: Although he hasn’t been in the best form at club level, and hasn’t featured all that much in Valencia’s last two league games, he is clearly a player that Fernando Santos trusts, and after his goal against Serbia in the last bout of Euro qualifiers, he is likely to be called upon again. Chances of inclusion: Likely.
Joao FELIX: Felix very recently scored his first ever Champions League goal, in the process becoming Atletico Madrid’s youngest ever Champions League goalscorer too. What better way to mark the occasion than to get a fully deserved call-up to the Portugal national team? Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Diogo JOTA: Jota has had a solid season so far, particularly impressive in the Europa League. His Wolves side have struggled in the league this season, though Jota is still widely expected to be in the Portugal squad yet again. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the week that he finally makes his Portugal debut. Chances of inclusion: Likely.
Cristiano RONALDO: Suggestions are that this could be something of the beginning of the end of Messi and Ronaldo’s dominance in world football, words that have been uttered for several years now and always been unfounded. That day will come one day, of course, though worth bearing in mind that Ronaldo scored 4 goals in his last outing for Portugal, and has 3 goals in his last 3 for Juventus from the left wing. His place in the Portugal squad is his for as long as he wants it. Chances of inclusion: Certain.
Andre SILVA: Portugal didn’t have an out-and-out striker in their squad for the two matches in September - though they did end up scoring 9 goals across both match. There is therefore a clear argument that Portugal don’t need another forward in the squad, with Ronaldo serving as the ideal centreforward alongside a second striker, of which Portugal have many to choose from. Nevertheless, Andre Silva has a stunning goalscoring record for Portugal, has an exceptional partnership with Ronaldo, who referred to Silva as the heir to his throne for the Portugal national team, and is finding form again for Eintracht Frankfurt. Chances of inclusion: Uncertain.
Fabio MARTINS: Fabio Martins is included on this list more in hope than expectation. Goncalo Guedes would ordinarily be a guaranteed choice in Santos’ squad, and he likely still is considering his goal for Portugal vs Serbia. But he hasn’t been in the best form at club level, and hasn’t featured all that much in Valencia’s last two league games. Martins, meanwhile, is doing a splendid job on the wing for Famalicao, who currently sit 1st in the Primeira Liga. His 4 goals and 4 assists already this season are testament to just how tremendous he has been this season, instrumental to his side, and if Santos is really rewarding form ahead of reputation, Martins should be in the squad. Chances of inclusion: Highly uncertain.