STUDY: How does Portugal's performances in major tournaments compare to other European nations?
Since the start of the century, Portugal have qualified for every World Cup and European championship - but how does their record since the year 2000 rank amongst the other top European nations?
Portugal have won two titles in the past 19 years, as well as finishing as runners-up once (Euro 2004), and reaching the semi-finals on another 4 occasions.
It gives them a pretty impeccable record since the start of the century, the only major tournament that they have failed to progress to the Confederations Cup in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2013, although they did finally qualify for the competition in 2017 after their Euro 2016 triumph.
But, while we know Portugal have been one of the top performing nations in the past couple of decades, where do they rank in comparison with other European sides?
To look at this, we allocated a different set of points for each stage reached in each international competition. Be it the World Cup, European Championship or Confederations Cup, the algorithm applied is as follows:
0 points were allocated when a team failed to qualify for the tournament in any given year, 2 points were allocated for when they made it to the group stage but no further, 3 points when they made it to the Round of 16 but no further, 4 points when they made it to the Quarter finals but no further, 6 points when they made it to the semi-final but no further, 8 points for when they finished as runners-up in any given year, and 12 points for when they won the competition in any given year.
For the UEFA Nations League, the same rules were applied for the semi-finals and final, but 0 points were awarded when a team was relegated from the group stage, 2 points awarded when they failed to get past the group stage, and 3 points if they were promoted, having been playing in a lower tier.
The results were as follows:
15. Czech Republic - 20pts
Czech Republic comes in in 15th place. Which could be seen as somewhat surprising, considering they have only qualified for 7 tournament finals this century - and failing to make it past the group stage on 5 of those occasions. That semi-final finish at Euro 2004 was a big factor for their placing in the ranking, and is the highlight of their recent international history.
14. Belgium - 21pts
This may be a surprise to many, particularly the younger readers. Belgium may have a stunning team this generation, but that quality is fairly recent. Failing to qualify for any tournaments between World Cup 2002 and World Cup 2014, their recent history is actually very poor. They will want to be making up for that history though in the coming years with this Golden Generation.
13. Russia - 24pts
Russia come in in 13th, mainly for their consistency. They often qualify for major international competitions, but rarely perform to a high standard, their best result being the semi-finals in Euro 2008.
12. Switzerland - 24pts
Switzerland come in 12th, also on 24 points. Their most recent UEFA Nations League performance their standout success of the last 20 years.
11. Turkey - 24pts
Turkey are next. Also on 24 points, they are ranked above Switzerland by the fact that they’ve reached more semi-finals. And what an interesting record Turkey have at major tournaments. Very much an all-or-nothing footballing record, Turkey failed to qualify for 11 of the last 16 competitions (not including the Nations League), but have also reached 3 semi-finals in that time too. Impressive.
10. Sweden - 25pts
Sweden are the team that make it into the top 10. On 25 points, Sweden have a proud but ultimately unspectacular history in football, often qualifying for major tournaments, but rarely progressing that far.
9. Croatia - 25pts
Croatia come in 9th, equal on 25 points with Sweden, but higher after that spectacular performance at the last World Cup. Other than that, a relatively unspectacular recent record.
8. Greece - 27pts
Greece. Wow. Looking at their performance record just before their Euro 2004 triumph, it makes it even more spectacular. A tournament all Greek’s will rightfully remember with great fondness for the rest of time.
7. England - 38pts
England only make it to 7th after a less than spectacular recent record. Failing to make it past the quarter finals until that brilliant World Cup 2018 campaign, the future looks bright for England, even if the recent past is relatively unspectacular.
6. Netherlands - 43pts
Netherlands in 6th, who have a very interesting record since 2000. Making it to at least the semi-final of a major competition on 5 occasions since the start of the century, they aren’t pushing higher up the ranking mainly due to their disappointing Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 campaigns.
5. Italy - 55pts
Italy make it to the top 5, a distance ahead of nearest challengers Netherlands. A strong recent history, including 2 Euros runners-up medals and victory at the World Cup in 2006. But still a distance off the top 4.
4. Portugal - 70pts
Fifteen points above nearest challengers Italy, Portugal have well and truly cemented themselves as one of the big-hitters in European football. Recent title triumph in both Euro 2016 and the Nations League in 2019 play a big factor, though they also boast a Runners-up medal from Euro 2004, as well as 4 semi-final efforts - in Euro 2000, World Cup 2006, Euro 2012 and the Confederations Cup in 2017.
3. Spain - 73pts
Just 3 points ahead of Portugal are Spain in 3rd place. Undoubtedly fully deserved; after victories at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2012, Spain were the team to beat for 6 years. A relatively modest record other than those brilliant results is what prevents them pushing for 1st.
2. Germany - 76pts
The 3 points above Spain are Germany. A consistent beast in major international competitions, they almost always make it to the semi-finals of any tournament they compete in - their World Cup 2018 campaign a huge shock.
1. France - 84pts
And coming in in 1st is none other than France. Unsurprising perhaps considering their Euro 2016 second-place finish and their triumph in Russia in 2018, though their first place position also rests heavily on their back-to-back Confederation Cup victories in 2001 and 2003.