*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
Victory at Euro 2016 gave Portugal their first major trophy. Pragmatic in their approach, they lifted the trophy having drawn six of seven matches in 90 minutes of regular time. While less attractive to watch compared to the golden generation that preceded them in the early 2000s, the more defensive style worked. More success followed with Nations League glory in 2019, and since then the squad has evolved with a crop of talented youngsters emerging.
Hungary – Budapest: Tue, June 15, 5pm
Germany – Munich: Sat, June 19, 5pm
France – Budapest: Wed, June 23, 8pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Portugal made it through with relative ease, although could only finish as runners-up to Ukraine. A lone defeat to away to the group winners, in a game Portugal dominated, was all that separated the sides in the end. Draws against Ukraine and Serbia were the only other dropped points along the way.
They scored 22 and conceded just six in eight games. Since qualifying, Portugal performed well in the latest Nations League campaign, finishing runners-up to France in League A, Group 3. The sides played out a 0-0 draw in Paris before Les Blues claimed a 1-0 win in Lisbon.
Fernando Santos has vast experience in major competitions with both Greece and Portugal. He took charge in 2014 and has led them to glory in France two years later. Generally quite pragmatic in his approach, the increased quality in the squad this time around could give Santos a headache as he tries to find a winning formula.
When asked previously about managing Benfica, having previously been in charge of their bitter rivals Porto, Santos simply responded: “As a coach, I do not have a heart”. Expect him to make the big decisions when it comes to fielding his starting XI.
Portugal are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 of some variety. With multiple options at full back, as well as a good mix of passers, creative talent and defensive stoppers in midfield they have one of the strongest squads at the tournament.
Up top, they have an abundance of talent that can play across the frontline – combinations of Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Andre Silva are as good as any.
One concern, however, would be at the heart of defence and who will partner Ruben Dias. Either Jose Fonte or Pepe will likely take the spot, but both are in the twilight of their careers.
Ruben Dias. Not Ronaldo? I hear you ask. While obviously still the team’s talisman, Ronaldo has slowed down ever so slightly. He would still be a massive miss if not available, but Portugal have far more strength in depth now to replace him.
They would likely struggle more if Dias was to miss out. Having captained his country at youth level already, the 24-year-old is a born leader. After an outstanding debut season for Manchester City, expect to see more of the same this summer.
Portugal will play with two attack-minded full backs so will rely heavily on Dias’ presence. His absence would leave a potential centre half pairing of Pepe and Fonte – with a combined age of 75, it’s fair to say their legs have gone.
ONE TO WATCH
Diogo Jota. Despite a lengthy injury disrupting his debut season for Liverpool, Jota has still proven to be a great bit of business by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. His impressive club form continued for Portugal in recent World Cup qualifiers netting three times in two starts. The 24-year-old can play several positions across the front line & expect him to chip in with his share of goals and assists.
Here’s all the key data on Portugal’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
They’ve been among the best-backed thus far, seeing their price tumble along the way (as big as 16/1 at one point). Drawn in the group of death along with France, Germany and Hungary, travel schedules have not been kind to Portugal.
Their opening game against host nation Hungary will be must win and the group is likely to be decided on fine margins. Anything less than a semi-final with a squad of this talent will be seen as a major disappointment.
On their day Portugal can beat anyone and proved in 2016 they can be very hard to beat over 90 mins, extra time and penalties. Given just how tight the group looks to be, their route to the final looks a little uncertain at the moment.
Should they go all the way, expect them to be very solid at the back. Traditionally, the Player of the Tournament award goes to more creative and attacking players, but for all the reasons above, Dias could buck the trend. In 1996, Matthias Sammer was the first official recipient of the award – another defender winning is long overdue.
READ MORE ON EURO 2021
- Channel your inner Gareth Southgate and win cash!
- Paddy’s top goalscorer betting offer gives you plenty of bang for your buck
- The 11 cities and stadiums hosting Euro 2021 fixtures
- Euro 2021 fixtures, dates and group details
- Euro 2021 tips: Who to back – and avoid – at this summer’s tournament
- Euro 2021 tips: Who to back – and avoid – to be the top goalscorer