Portugal Euro 2012 Roster: Analyzing Team's Starting 11 and Ronaldo's Captaincy
Captained by Cristiano Ronaldo, the team features some dynamic players. If they can work together, this could be one of the most feared teams in the competition. They have firepower from all over, and if it comes together, this team could be the European champions.
Obviously, a team featuring Ronaldo, Pepe and Nani have to face the threat of inconsistency. They can lose their heads in a match, and that could end Portugal's chances instantly.
However, if the team stays focused (like Ronaldo did this year), they will be in great shape.
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Beto (CFR-Cluj), Eduardo (Benfica), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)
Eduardo has been the man for Portugal since Euro 2008. He was the goalkeeper in the World Cup, and seemed poised to have a great career.
However, he stopped getting regular playing time. While bouncing around from one club to another, he lost his spot in the Portugal XI.
Rui Patricio has since been the man. He's played well for Sporting Lisbon, and has been pretty solid in the Portuguese net. He will need to play well in the tournament, which he is more than capable of doing.
Starter: Rui Patricio
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Bruno Alves (Zenit Saint-Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), rolando (Porto), Miguel Lopes (Sporting Braga)
Pepe is the leader of this defending group, which could end up being great or horrible. He is a fantastic defender, but his temperament could lead to something horrible for the team.
Regardless, Portugal must believe in their big central defender. Pepe will most likely get paired with Alves, who has been in pretty good form for Zenit this year. With that said, Rolando could also get some playing time alongside Pepe.
With Coentrao most likely on the left side and Pereira (not Jose Bosingwa) on the other, Portugal should have a pretty great defense.
Starters: Coentrao, Alves, Pepe, Pereira
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This is a very interesting group because I'm not really sure what to expect.
Portugal seems to be relying on Meireles to make things happen, but he has been a step slower for Chelsea this season. Big things are expected from Moutinho, but he's never been on this big of stage. They seem to be locks for the midfield, but the other position(s) remain open.
If Portugal wants to attack more, Martins will probably be the guy. Otherwise, expect Veloso to get most of the time in the holding midfield role.
(Carlos Martins suffered a calf injury and was replaced with Hugo Viana on 5/24.)
Starters: Meireles, Velos, Moutinho
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Obviously, Ronaldo is the most dynamic player on this squad, but he isn't alone.
Nani will hold down the other wing. If teams are keying off Ronaldo, Nani could have himself a great tournament. He was inconsistent with United this year, but a fresh start with the national team could be just what he needs.
The biggest hole for Portugal will be the centre forward position. Almeida and Postiga are both capable, but which one should be picked? Both players had solid campaigns, but they didn't do anything special. It could be a striker-by-committee approach. Given the wingers Portugal has, that might not be the worst thing.
Starters: Ronaldo, Almeida, Nani
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Ronaldo has been the captain for awhile, so this should come as no surprise.
Unfortunately, he has picked up a slight reputation of disappearing in big games. He didn't have an impact in Euro 2008 or the latest World Cup. For Portugal, he has left much to be desired. For Real Madrid, it seemed like he was lost in every El Clasico.
Then, in the last match against Barcelona, he scored the winner. Ronaldo silenced those critics and proved that he could come up big when it matters. Of course, he followed that up by choking in penalties against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
However, it must also be noted that he scored twice before that, including on a penalty. Making two penalties in a match is tough for any player. While Ronaldo should've converted it, it's reasonable to see how he didn't.
Ronaldo isn't known for being a fantastic leader, but he leads by example. If he plays well in this competition, Portugal could make some noise.
Obviously, don't expect him to do everything. Portugal has gone down that road before. If they keep games close and let Ronaldo take over when it matters most, Portugal has a chance of lifting the trophy.
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Portugal is in the group of death once again.
They will need to defeat Holland or Germany to ensure their place in the quarterfinals. Or, more likely, Portugal could play the goal differential game and hope to blow out Denmark by a lot (like they did in the 2010 World Cup).
Portugal is capable of this, and they should make it out of the group, despite losing to Germany and drawing with Holland. No one in Group A can beat Portugal, which means they shouldn't have a problem reaching the semifinals (after the group, of course).
That's where Portugal will fall. After getting to the semifinal, they will fall in extra time (not in penalties, though). Obviously, things can change with injuries and upsets, but I'm pretty set in believing Portugal will finish third in this year's competition.