The Portuguese team of the season
With the season coming to an end, we look at the Portuguese team of the season from across the globe.
This is certainly not an illustration of Portugal’s best possible starting XI, but rather simply a review of what we believe are the top performing players in each position based on this season alone.
GK: Anthony Lopes
Goalkeeper was very much between two options - Rui Patricio or Anthony Lopes. And, ultimately, based purely on this season alone, we went for the latter.
There is no doubt that they both had terrific seasons, and neither is there any disputing that Rui Patricio is still very much Portugal’s number one between the sticks.
But basing this purely on this season alone, Anthony Lopes very probably just about edges it.
With his terrific performances in Ligue 1, playing 34 of their 38 matches in the domestic top flight, Lopes pulled off many top-draw saves to lead Lyon to 3rd in the French league, while he also featured heavily in the Champions League too, helping them get through a tough group containing Manchester City, Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk to progress to the round of 16.
Lopes was even voted as L’Equipe’s goalkeeper of the group stage, which says all you need to know about his performances.
They then lost to Barcelona in the first knockout round, but did keep a clean sheet at home, thanks in part to the efforts of Lopes.
At left-back, you could go for Raphael Guerreiro of Dortmund, who is Portugal’s best left back at national level, although he was more frequently used a s a left midfielder during his time in Germany this campaign, and so that opens the door for a Portuguese veteran - Vieirinha.
The 33-year old started as a right winger, represented Portugal as a right back at Euro 2016, and has now morphed into a left back during his time in Greece.
As both captain and player of the year for his club PAOK, who he helped lead to the Greek title last campaign, Vieirinha seems like a more than worthy pick in this team of the year. In fact, PAOK didn’t lose a single league game this campaign, with Vierinha playing his part in that tremendous run to help his Greek side win their first league title for 35 years. Phenomenal.
CB: Ruben Dias
How can you look past Ruben Dias? With a huge 5,639 minutes of football to his name in the 2018-19 season, Dias played the 4th most minutes of any player in Europe last season, and was imperative in Benfica’s title charge.
His defensive capabilities have been astonishing; his dominance at the back with his aerial ability, positional awareness and tackling prowess have been a sight to behold, and it is no wonder that Manchester United are keen to sign him.
His performances for Portugal at the UEFA Nations League finals only cemented the sheer brilliance of Dias this campaign where, after Bernardo Silva, he was perhaps Portugal’s best performer.
All while only being only 22 years of age. He squeezes into the team just ahead of teammate Ferro due to his Nations League performance.
CB: Jose Fonte
Having returned to European football after a brief spell in China, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that Jose Fonte's footballing career was winding to a close and he'd played his last ever game for the Portugal national team. But the season that he and Lille have had is difficult to truly believe.
Becoming captain of the team part way through the season because of his excellent leadership on and off the field, Fonte was instrumental in his side obtaining 2nd place in the league, organising a strong defence and playing in all but two Ligue 1 matches all campaign.
In total, he helped Lille keep 15 clean sheets in the league alone, an extraordinary return when you think of the fact that they were on the brink of relegation last season.
With their exquisite campaign, where they were only beaten in the table by PSG, Fonte, at the age of 35, is set to play in the Champions League for the first time in his career next season. A brilliant story, fairy-tale stuff.
The fact that he's just played a huge role in Portugal winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League, called upon part way through the semifinal and required for the entirety of the final versus The Netherlands due to the injury to Pepe, makes his season even more impressive. Portugal didn't conceded a single goal while he was on the field. Monster.
RB: Ricardo Pereira
Ricardo Pereira had a season to remember for Leicester City - to the surprise of absolutely no-one who watched him in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.
There was disappointment amongst Porto fans when he was sold - justifiably too. After playing in 35 of Leicester's 38 league games, Ricardo was used both at right back and right midfield at different points in the season, and showed both his defensive ability and attacking prowess, proving his aptitude at both ends of the pitch, earning him the title of Leicester City player of the year!
An incredible achievement for the 25-year old considering this was his first season in the Premier League - amazing to think he only cost £20million.
CM: Ruben Neves
For this more defensive midfield position in central midfield, it was really a toss-up between Danilo and Ruben Neves, and we just about edged for the latter.
Danilo deserves a mention though; his defensive ability is simply outstanding, a real shield in front of the backline. His physicality also makes him a real weapon going forwards, and he has illustrated throughout the season that he can lead the team from the back with his passing ability and composure.
His performance for Portugal in the Nations League final was also terrific, keeping the Dutch quiet all campaign to top a good season for the Portuguese midfielder.
But, we’ve chosen Ruben Neves due to the superb season he had for Wolves yet again. Having joined the club while in the Championship, Neves was able to adapt to the Premier League with ease, to nobody’s surprise.
Showing his defensive capabilities alongside his world-renowned passing and vision, Neves occupied that deep-lying playmaker role to perfection as he so often does, doing his part to break down opposition moves, in addition to starting moves of his own with those pinged passes around the pitch.
CM: Joao Moutinho
Alongside Neves, we’ve elected to choose his Wolves teammate Moutinho. And who can have any complaints?
Moutinho ultimately played in at least part of all of Wolves’ 38 Premier League matches last campaign, starting 35 of them. An instrumental member of the Wolves midfield, the club’s faithful immediately took to the now-32-year old, and it seems fair to say that they are still in awe of the fact that Moutinho represents their club.
The double European champion for Portugal, one of only 9 Portuguese players that can claim that honour, was voted as our Portuguese signing of the year - and it would have been an absolute crime to leave him out of our team of the season.
His composure in the middle of the park, his intricacy, his passing and dribbling and willingness to put a shift in defensively. He is the ideal role model to have in midfield, with his natural ability paired with terrific leadership and experience. He showed it all last season. A midfield maestro.
RW: Bernardo Silva
Wow. Just how. What a truly ridiculous season Bernardo Silva has had for Manchester City. And there are whispers of a potential Ballon d’Or for the Manchester City player of the year. And you cannot deny that he deserves to be in the discussion.
Having also been voted as the Nations League player of the tournament, Bernardo Silva won virtually everything there was to win this campaign, and more than played his part in every competition he was involved in.
His skill, trickery, composure and general footballing intelligence was regularly on show; while Guardiola often chose to rotate his team, Bernardo was virtually always in the starting lineup, his consistent performance level earning him praise from Guardiola the like of which you very rarely hear, while he very rapidly became a fan favourite.
Winning the Community Shield, League Cup, Premier League and FA Cup on top of his individual honours, Bernardo topped it all off with that Nations League victory for his country, which he starred in. What a season for the little magician.
CAM: Bruno Fernandes
And yet Bernardo Silva was arguably not even the best performing Portuguese player last season either. That place has to surely be reserved for Bruno Fernandes, who may require a chiropractor at the end of this season having been carrying the weight of Sporting CP on his shoulders for the past 9 months.
Of course the Primeira Liga is not as strong as the English Premier League, of course Bernardo Silva faces tougher opposition than Bruno Fernandes on a weekly basis - but the numbers the latter racked up from midfield last season are nearly impossible to comprehend, and you dread to think where 3rd place Sporting would have finidhed without him this season...
Bruno Fernandes bagged himself 32 goals and 18 assists in 53 appearances this campaign. 32 goals. 18 assists. From midfield.
Even more extraordinarily, in his last 15 league matches of the season, he scored 13 goals and assisted a further 7, and has only failed to directly contribute to a goal in three matches in that time. Unreal.
Superlatives are lacking to do this guy justice. It's no wonder that he's being linked with a move to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United - for big money too.
LW: Rafa Silva
This was by far the hardest position to choose of them all, as it ultimately came to two extraordinarily good players with little to choose between them - Rafa Silva and Diogo Jota.
In what was Jota’s second season with Wolverhampton Wanderers, he really did show just what he is capable of in the second half of last campaign.
While he was a key figure in Nuno’s side as they achieved promotion to the Premier League the season earlier, he seemed to hit a new gear this time around, his quick feet and eye for goal combining to form a truly deadly forward.
Indeed, after moving into that second striker role alongside Raul Jimenez, he was not only scoring for fun as the stats clearly show, but was the source of constant torment for opposition defences with his pace and dribbling prowess.
However, in the end we edged for Rafa Silva. We just couldn’t leave him out.
Rafa has finally been showing exactly why he is Benfica's second most expensive player in history, showcasing that form he demonstrated for Braga - and some more on top of that.
His pace, his dribbling ability, his tenacity, and with it his end product, he is a world-class winger on his day - which he seems to be every time he steps out onto the pitch right now. World class is a term thrown about a bit too frequently in this day and age, but Rafa fits the bill when he's playing to the best of his ability.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
By Cristiano Ronaldo's outrageously high standards, this was a relatively average season for the former Real Madrid star - and yet he has still undoubtedly been Portugal's standout striker this season, showing just how superhuman the most capped Portuguese player of all time really is.
The 34-year old, perhaps surprisingly, was not the top scorer in Serie A this season, with *only* 21 goals in 31 matches. But he didn’t just contributed a significant number of goals to Juventus' latest title defence, and instead completely discredited all those who claim he is a selfish player who offers nothing more than goals, instead chipping in with 13 assists this campaign too.
Also worth noting that Ronaldo has been used extensively on the left wing this season by Juventus - at the age of 34, it should be pointed out - making his goal tally even more impressive.