Predicted Portugal squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers
Fernando Santos is to announce the latest Portugal squad this Thursday ahead of next month’s Euro 2020 qualifying matches.
Portugal have just 2 points from 2 games after home draws against both Serbia and Ukraine, and are set to face Serbia and Lithuania in September.
In preparation for those two matches, we had a go at predicting the upcoming Portugal squad:
It's an absolute given that Patricio will be included in Fernando Santos’ latest squad. The Portuguese number one, who is by now the most capped goalkeeper in Portuguese footballing history, will not only be included in the squad, but is fully expected to play the entirety of both games. Only injury could prevent him from being picked.
36-year old Beto, who is currently on the books of Turkish outfit Goztepe, is fast establishing himself as Portugal's number two in between the sticks, with Jose Sá and himself battling it out to play second fiddle to Patricio. In any case, Beto will be in the squad, particularly considering the fact that Anthony Lopes is currently taking a break from international football.
Currently on the books of Olympiakos, Sá has been showing very good form for the historic Greek emblem under the stewardship of compatriot Pedro Martins, and it is fully expected that he will retain his place in Fernando Santos’ latest squad. While he is yet to make his debut for Portugal, his time will surely come.
Guerreiro has continued to display his talents for Borrusia Dortmund, albeit more often than not from a more advanced starting position. Regardless, Guerreiro is still fully expected to function as a left back for the national team, in part due to the lack of depth Portugal have in the left back department. His defensive ability has been called into question at times, though his efforts at Euro 2016 have earned him the benefit of the doubt, and he'll continue to play a significant role for the national team for the foreseeable future.
Mario Rui is still to convince some sections of the Portugal fans that he is of sufficient calibre to represent his country, though the Napoli man is a more than competent backup option for that left back position, and has shown as much in his handful of international appearances. Expect him to also maintain his place in the Portugal squad.
Expect the new Manchester City man to also retain his spot in Fernando Santos’ side, the former Juventus right back one of the best in the world in his position. While Portugal may be somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to right sides full backs – added to the fact that Cancelo is yet to feature for the English champions – he is still a player that deserves to make the cut, and almost certainly will despite his lack of game time this season.
Someone that may well beat Cancelo in the battle for a starting spot, though, is Nelson Semedo. The Barcelona right back, who was interesting both Atletico Madrid and Juventus this summer, impressed as a starter during the Nations League finals back in June, and deserves to continue to serve his country on the international stage. Expect him to do so – and probably even start at least one of the games.
Pepe was one of the defenders who got torn apart during that disastrous first half against Krasnodar in Porto that ultimately led to Porto being dumped out of Europe's most illustrious club competition before it had even really got underway. However, the veteran defender is still a huge figure in Fernando Santos’ plans and, despite his advanced years, is generally a reliable figure alongside Benfica's Ruben Dias.
Speaking of Ruben Dias, he is one that you can absolutely guarantee will be in the squad - provided he avoids injury, of course. The 22-year old Benfica centreback has just come off his best spell in a Portugal shirt, his showings at the Nations League undoubtedly worthy of player of the tournament – even if that honour did go to the equally exceptional Bernardo Silva. A necessity for Portugal to have him in the squad.
Another experienced centreback, Jose Fonte is also fully deserving of a place in the Portugal squad, the current Lille man having impressed for the French outfit last season, leading his side to an unlikely Champions League berth – in fact, despite now being 35 years of age, Fonte is now set to play in the Champions League for the first time in his career. An incredible achievement, and shows what a late bloomer Jose Fonte really was. Deserving of yet another call-up to the national team.
For the UEFA Nations League, Fernando Santos opted for just three centrebacks, safe in the knowledge that, if necessary, the excellent Danilo Pereira could serve as a defender if required. However, there's every chance that he'll choose four centrebacks this time around, even if that did mean that an extra attacker would have to miss out. And Ferro is the perfect candidate. Yet to even be called up to the senior national team, he is fully expected to be the future of Portuguese football in terms of the defence, alongside Ruben Dias and the likes of Diogo Leite and Diogo Queiros, and this could be the time Santos calls up the Benfica defender to give him some experience in the senior national team.
The Wolves defensive midfielder has been excellent throughout his career in England, to such an extent that he is not only a regular in Fernando Santos’ squad, but he is also almost always a starter. His presence gives William Carvalho more license to roam, which is something Santos appreciates, so he is expected to play a key role in the upcoming couple of matches too.
The defensive midfielder to rival Ruben Neves, though, is Danilo Pereira. The Porto man was the reason Ruben Neves was allowed to leave the club back in 2017, and he is highly unfortunate not to be one of the first names on the team sheet, such is his quality in central midfield. It's in many ways excellent news for Portugal that he struggles for game time though, because it ultimately indicates that Portugal are blessed with an array of talent in midfield.
Carvalho is one of the players Fernando Santos clearly trusts the most, serving an integral role in Portugal’s system under the management of the experienced coach. His power in the middle of the park mixed with his composure, defensive intuition and passing ability make him an outstanding midfielder, and Portugal with Santos in charge have really been making the most of him.
The third most capped Portuguese player in history has simply continued to be the exceptional central midfielder we all know him to be. A leader as well as a quality player, his presence not only on the pitch but in the locker room is huge, and Santos will undoubtedly want a player of his calibre and experience in his side to help see out matches or add some much needed composure in midfield if things don't go Portugal's way from the off.
Any explanation needed? It is a bit of a crime that none of the top clubs in world football came in for the 24-year old Sporting star, his heroics last season almost singlehandedly earning Sporting two trophies. If he does remain at Sporting for the upcoming season, it will be an absolutely huge boost to Sporting for the upcoming campaign.
The experienced Benfica midfielder, who offers both versatility and quality, is another who is very likely to be included in the Portugal squad, his ability to play both in central midfield and on the wing very useful for a national team squad.
Bernardo was the best performing player for arguably the best team in Europe last season as he helped lead Manchester City to an historic domestic treble. He is a sensational footballer and will be instrumental in any success Portugal have over the next decade. He is both the present and the future of the national team.
Rafa Silva slipped under the radar somewhat last season at Benfica, his tremendous performances for the Portuguese champions somewhat overshadowed by new kid on the block João Felix. However, his pace, directness, creativity and clinical nature makes him the ideal forward, particularly off the bench, which is the role he's served under Fernando Santos for Portugal. This is going to be a huge year for Rafa, and he should start attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs in world football.
Although he hasn't had the best starts to the season, Guedes showed that he's a game changer in the Nations League last year, helping Portugal clinch their third goal in the semifinal before scoring the one and only goal in the final against The Netherlands. His inclusion would be questioned by some, but don't be shocked if he does get the nod.
It's quite shocking that he is yet to actually play for his country at senior level, but his time will come sooner rather than later. Jota was an unused substitute during Portugal's Nations League triumph, and although he failed to take to the pitch, his presence in the squad is a clear indication that he is in Fernando Santos’ plans. He'll make the squad – and should make his debut too.
This time last year, Cristiano Ronaldo was rested from Portugal’s Nations League group stage squads. While his absence didn't prevent Portugal coming out on top over both Italy and Poland, it would be surprising to see him rested again, particularly considering the fact that qualification to the Euros is now looking far from straightforward.
It's fair to say that João Felix has made an excellent start to his Atletico Madrid career. Since signing from Benfica for over €120M, he has simply picked up from where he left off, the price tag and change of scenery not phasing him one bit despite his youth. He will be in the squad – he almost has to be – and should add to his one cap too.