World Cup 2022 team preview: Defensive steel key to Portugal’s challenge in Qatar

They've got a star-studded squad - but can they go all the way?



On the back of two disappointing exits in the Round of 16 at the World Cup 2018 and Euros 2020, this Portugal side will be hoping to put those past failures behind them and push for glory at the World Cup 2022.

The Euro 2016 winners have some of the world’s best and most known players in their squad, and on their day would fancy taking on the elite. You have to go back as far as 2006 to find Portugal progressing past the first knockout round at the tournament, but with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo all making an appearance this year, they’ll be hoping to put that bad run behind them.

Our footy trader Mark Curley takes a look at their chances…


Portugal World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Portugal have had to take the long route in securing their place. Being drawn in the same group as Serbia, Republic Of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, Portugal would have been full of confidence in securing a first place finish and guaranteeing progression to Qatar. However, Serbia had other ideas and the group ended up coming down to a last-match decider. With Portugal only needing a draw to secure top spot, Aleksandar Mitrovic broke their hearts with a 90th minute winner.

In the end they ended up coasting through the playoffs without too much fuss, putting away Turkey 3-1 in the semi-finals before a comfortable 2-0 success against North Macedonia.

Who is the Portugal manager?

Fernando Santos took charge of Portugal in September 2014 before the beginning of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. After successfully qualifying for this tournament, he led them to the trophy with one of the most bizarre routes, drawing all three group matches, qualifying as a best third place finisher, then winning three of their four knockout matches after extra-time.

Although the following tournaments haven’t gone to plan for Santos, he brings close to 35 years of managerial experience and over 1,000 matches managed to this Portugal side so nobody can question his ability at getting a team ready for the big occasion.

Fernando Santos

Portugal World Cup squad

Portugal will play with a 4-3-3 formation in this year’s World Cup with depth across all parts of the field. Ronaldo, Cancelo, Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva are just a few of the well known players that will be heavily featured this winter, and with so much depth in their team, injuries won’t be much of an issue for this side with replacements available in almost every position.

Having such a broad squad will definitely benefit Portugal in their hopes at a long run in this tournament as unlike other teams, they can afford to rest some of their key players if the time is right.

  • Goalkeepers: Jose Sa, Rui Patricio, Diogo Costa.
  • Defenders: Joao Cancelo, Diogo Dalot, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Danilo Pereira, Antonio Silva, Nuno Mendes, Raphael Guerreiro.
  • Midfielders: William, Ruben Neves, Joao Palhinha, Bruno Fernandes, Vitinha, Otavio, Matheus Nunes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Mario.
  • Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Ricardo Horta, Andre Silva, Goncalo Ramos.

Portugal Key Player

At 37 years of age, a lot of people will have their questions around Cristiano Ronaldo coming into this tournament, but nobody can doubt that he is – and will be – one of the greatest players footballers to ever play the game and for that reason alone, you can’t look past him not being the key player for this Portugal side.

With the strength of the team around him, Ronaldo will be in his element and although lacking some minutes with Manchester United, his fitness will not be any concern to him or his team and I’m sure at the end of the tournament he’ll have at least three or four goals scored for his nation.

Ruben Dias Portugal

Portugal One to Watch

AC Milan man Rafael Leao is only gaining more and more experience in the high ranks, and although will more than likely be used off the bench for this Portugal side, it’s worth keeping a keen eye on him when he enters the field.

Portugal World Cup Prospects

Being drawn in Group H with Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, Portugal will have very high hopes of qualifying from their group in first place. If all goes to plan, it looks like it’ll either be Serbia or Switzerland that they face up against in the Round of 16.

Although losing to both in recent months, Portugal would be confident they’d cope with the bigger stage here and in terms of tournament prospects, Portugal will certainly be disappointed with anything other than a quarter-final appearance in this year’s tournament.

Portugal World Cup betting tips

If Portugal are to have any chance of progressing in this competition, they’ll want to really concentrate on having a solid back four and defensive side to their game. With Ghana and South Korea being some of the easier opponents in this year competition, they’ll likely try use these matches to build on their defensive power and it would be a surprise to see them leak goals to either. The fire power they have up top speaks for itself so it terms of finding goals to win these matches, there should be little doubt that they’ll come easy to this Portuguese side. PORTUGAL TO BEAT GHANA & SOUTH KOREA WITHOUT CONCEDING A GOAL.

Portugal World Cup Winner Odds

Portugal World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 24, 4pm: Portugal 3-2 Ghana (ITV)

November 28, 7pm: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay (ITV)

December 2, 3pm: South Korea 2-1 Portugal (BBC)

December 6, 7pm: Portugal v Switzerland (ITV)


*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

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