Portugal World Cup 2014 Squad: Player-by-Player Guide

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistMay 13, 2014

Portugal World Cup 2014 Squad: Player-by-Player Guide

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    In a Portuguese-speaking country, Portugal will be seeking to back up their frequent promise and impress at this World Cup.

    Coach Paulo Bento possesses a stylish squad which is of course dominated by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, and in a tough Group G alongside Germany, Ghana and the USA they'll be pitched into some fascinating battles from the very beginning.

    Bento has named his 30-man preliminary squad for Brazil, and here's the lowdown on every player:

Rui Patricio

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    Date of Birth: February 15th, 1988

    Birthplace: Marrazes, Portugal

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Caps: 29

    Club: Sporting Lisbon

    Brief Bio: The No. 1 goalkeeper at Sporting for over six years now, Rui Patricio was cut from the Portugal squad for the 2010 World Cup having been named in the provisional party, but he recovered to start all five of his country’s games as they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012. There, Patricio saved a penalty from Spain’s Xabi Alonso in a shootout, only to end up on the losing side.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Patricio has showcased his penalty-saving prowess before, and he managed to save a spot-kick on his senior debut for Sporting in a match away at Maritimo in November 2006 aged just 18.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Prior to the final game of the season at home to Estoril, Patricio had only conceded one goal in his previous nine league matches at Sporting’s Jose Alvalade Stadium.


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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Date of Birth: May 1st, 1982

    Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Caps: 6

    Club: Sevilla

    Brief Bio: Before joining up with the Portugal squad this summer, goalkeeper Beto will first be looking to disappoint a large number of Portuguese people in the Europa League final, as his Sevilla side take on Benfica in Turin. A relative latecomer to international football, the 32-year-old made his international debut in 2009 and was an unused substitute throughout the 2010 World Cup. 

    Quick-Hit Fact: Although Beto rarely featured for Porto during his three years at the club, he did save a penalty in their 6-2 Portuguese Cup final win over Vitoria Guimaraes in 2011. 

    Quick-Hit Stat: Beto won the Romanian league title whilst on loan at CFR Cluj in 2012.


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    Date of Birth: September 19th 1982

    Birthplace: Mirandela, Portugal

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Caps: 32

    Club: Braga (on loan from Genoa)

    Brief Bio: Goalkeeper Eduardo’s fine displays for Braga in the 2009/10 campaign earned him his country’s No. 1 jersey for the World Cup in South Africa, where he managed to keep clean sheets in all three of Portugal’s group games before conceding a solitary and damaging goal to David Villa in the second round. Eduardo’s displays earned him a move to Serie A side Genoa, but he’s now back in his homeland.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Eduardo was a key player in the first-ever Portuguese League Cup final in 2008 where, on loan at Vitoria Setubal from Braga, he kept a clean sheet and saved three Sporting Lisbon penalties in the shootout as Vitoria caused a shock.

    Quick-Hit Stat: In conceding just one goal at the 2010 World Cup finals, Eduardo ensured that Portugal joined Switzerland as the teams with the best defensive record at the tournament, with each team conceding just one strike.


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    Date of Birth: February 26th 1983

    Birthplace: Maceio, Brazil

    Position: Defender

    Caps: 57

    Club: Real Madrid

    Brief Bio: Love him or loathe him, and it is usually the latter, defender Pepe has become one of the most recognisable figures in the European game during his time at Real Madrid, with whom he’s won La Liga twice. The Brazil-born defender was once banned for 10 matches following numerous unsavoury incidents in a match against Getafe in April 2009, but despite his confrontational style he retains the support of both club and country.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Two of Pepe’s three international goals for Portugal came at major international tournaments, as he found the net against Turkey on the opening day of Euro 2008 and then against Denmark in Portugal’s second match at Euro 2012.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Pepe played in every single minute of all but one of their eight matches as Real Madrid went through the whole of January 2014 without conceding a goal—a club record.

Bruno Alves

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    Date of Birth: November 27th, 1981

    Birthplace: Povoa de Varzim, Portugal

    Position: Defender

    Caps: 70

    Club: Fenerbahce

    Brief Bio: A regular presence at the heart of the Portuguese defence ever since his debut in 2007, Bruno Alves has been one of the most respected defenders in the European game at times over the past few years. He scored a crucial goal in a 2010 World Cup play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and after playing in every minute of Portugal’s matches in South Africa, Alves was again a key part of the team which reached the semi-finals at Euro 2012, where he missed a penalty in a shootout loss to Spain.

    Quick-Hit Fact: This year’s Turkish Super Lig success with Fenerbahce means that Alves has now won seven league titles with three different teams across three different countries.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Of Alves’ nine senior international goals, three have been scored against Azerbaijan and—bar the Bosnia strike—none were scored against a team currently ranked higher than 65 in the world by FIFA.

Ricardo Costa

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    Date of Birth: May 16th, 1981

    Birthplace: Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

    Position: Defender

    Caps: 16

    Club: Valencia

    Brief Bio: Vastly experienced in the European game, defender Costa has played in four different countries and won league titles in two of them. He played twice at the 2010 World Cup after an international absence of four years.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Costa was an unused substitute as Jose Mourinho's Porto beat Monaco in the 2004 Champions League final.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Costa's first and so far only international goal came in a 1-1 draw at home to Israel last October.

Luis Neto

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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    Date of Birth: May 26th, 1988

    Birthplace: Povoa de Varzim, Portugal

    Position: Defender

    Caps: 6

    Club: Zenit St Petersburg

    Brief Bio: Luis Neto joined Portuguese compatriots Bruno Alves and Danny at Zenit St. Petersburg in February 2013 after a spell in Italy with Serie A side Siena. He made his international debut in the same week in a 3-2 loss to Ecuador. 

    Quick-Hit Fact: The defender was part of the Portugal under-21 team which came second at the 2009 Lusophony Games in Lisbon.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Neto has been sent off for Zenit in both the Champions League and the Europa League.

Fabio Coentrao

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    Date of Birth: March 11th 1988

    Birthplace: Vila do Conde, Portugal

    Position: Left back/Left midfield

    Caps: 45

    Club: Real Madrid

    Brief Bio: After some false starts and a series of loan spells, the 2009/10 campaign proved to be a breakthrough one for Coentrao at Benfica, and it ended with him being an ever-present at the 2010 World Cup having only made his international debut in the play-off to reach the tournament. A move to Real Madrid followed in 2011, and although he was close to sealing a switch to Manchester United last summer (BBC) he remains an important and versatile member of the Spanish giants’ squad.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Coentrao was voted the Portuguese Second Division’s Breakthrough Player of the Year whilst a teenager at first club Rio Ave in 2006/07, before he won the same award in the top division with Benfica three seasons later.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The left-sided Coentrao played in every minute of each one of Portugal’s last nine matches at major tournaments.

Joao Pereira

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    Date of Birth: February 25th, 1984

    Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

    Position: Defender

    Caps: 34

    Club: Valencia

    Brief Bio: Vastly experienced in the European game, Pereira didn't make his international debut until current coach Paulo Bento took over the Portuguese job in 2010. Formerly of Benfica, Braga and Sporting Lisbon, the full-back now plies his trade in Spain with Valencia.

    Quick-Hit Fact: The fiery Pereira won the 2004/05 Portuguese title with Benfica.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Pereira was booked 18 times and sent off once in two seasons at Braga.

Andre Almeida

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    Date of Birth: September 10th 1990

    Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

    Position: Defender/Midfielder

    Caps: 2

    Club: Benfica

    Brief Bio: The versatile Almeida won his first and so far only two Portugal caps when he started the World Cup qualifiers against Israel and Luxembourg last October. He has played a vital role as Benfica reached the Europa League final.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Almeida experienced relegation with Belenenses in his first full season as a professional.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The tough-tackling Almeida has been booked in three of his last six appearances for Benfica.

Miguel Veloso

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    Date of Birth: 11th May, 1986

    Birthplace: Coimbra, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 46

    Club: Dynamo Kiev

    Brief Bio: Tipped for big things when he broke through at Sporting, it is perhaps a surprise to some that Veloso makes it into Portugal’s squad following a number of run-ins with current national team manager Paulo Bento when the pair were together in Lisbon. To believe that such spats would be a problem would be to ignore the player’s quality though, and after a move to Serie A’s Genoa in 2010, he can currently be found in the Ukraine with Dynamo Kiev.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Veloso has only recently passed the number of Portuguese caps won by his father Antonio, who played at Euro 84 before missing the 1986 World Cup due to a failed doping test.

    Quick-Hit Stat: In his final season at Sporting in 2009/10, Veloso managed to score more goals than he had in the previous four campaigns at the club combined.

Raul Meireles

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    Date of Birth: March 17th, 1983

    Birthplace: Porto, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 73

    Club: Fenerbahce

    Brief Bio: Heavily tattooed, bearded and therefore distinctive, Raul Meireles has been busy carving out a career as a classy and respected midfielder in his native Portugal, England and now Turkey over the past few years. Capable of playing in a variety of midfield roles and with an ability to score long-range goals, he has been a regular in the Portugal squad ever since nailing down a role in the group prior to Euro 2008. At that tournament he scored his first international goal after coming on as a substitute in Portugal’s opening match against Turkey.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Amongst Meireles’ numerous tattoos include images of his wife, his daughter, a huge Chinese dragon which covers most of his back and a necklace complete with skull (Daily Mail).

    Quick-Hit Stat: In 2011 Meireles followed Fernando Torres in scoring for Liverpool in a win against Chelsea, and then playing for Chelsea in a defeat against Liverpool the very next time the teams met.

Joao Moutinho

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    Date of Birth: 8th September, 1986

    Birthplace: Portimao, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 66

    Club: Monaco

    Brief Bio: Always identified as one of the more stylish midfielders on the continent, Moutinho joined Porto teammate James Rodriguez in making a money-spinning move to big-spending Monaco last summer. The former Sporting player had won a Portuguese title in each of the three seasons he spent at Porto, as well as the Europa League under Andre Villas-Boas in 2011. Having missed out on the squad for the 2010 World Cup, Moutinho played in all of Portugal’s matches at Euro 2012, missing a vital penalty in a semi-final shootout defeat to Spain.

    Quick-Hit Fact: David Moyes tried to sign Moutinho for Everton in 2008, only to have his £11.8 million bid for the midfielder rejected by Sporting (BBC).

    Quick-Hit Stat: Moutinho made two assists at Euro 2012, the same amount as the likes of Xavi, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Andrea Pirlo.

Ruben Amorim

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    Date of Birth: January 27th, 1985

    Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 10

    Club: Benfica

    Brief Bio: Benfica's Amorim was called into the squad for the 2010 World Cup as a replacement for the injured Nani, and he made his senior international debut at the tournament when he came on as a substitute against the Ivory Coast. 

    Quick-Hit Fact: The midfielder was loaned to Braga for the entirety of last season, when his five goals for the club almost matched the six he's scored in five years at Benfica.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Benfica haven't conceded a goal in each one of Amorim's last four appearances for the club.


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    Date of Birth: May 17th, 1993

    Birthplace: Forte da Casa, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 1

    Club: Braga

    Brief Bio: Rafa made his senior international debut when he played the first 45 minutes of the 5-1 win over Cameroon in Leiria in March. He had previously played for both the under-20s and under-21s.

    Quick-Hit Fact: This is Rafa's first season at top-flight level, during which he has played 23 times for Braga.

    Quick-Hit Stat: He has scored three goals during the campaign, including a brace in a win over Gil Vicente in February.

William Carvalho

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    Date of Birth: April 7th, 1992

    Birthplace: Luanda, Angola

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 2

    Club: Sporting Lisbon

    Brief Bio: A highly rated defensive midfielder, Carvalho has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Sporting Lisbon after loan spells at Fatima and Cercle Brugge.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Carvalho made his senior international debut in the World Cup playoff victory over Sweden last year.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The midfielder has scored two goals in Portugal under-21s' current Euro 2015 qualifying campaign.


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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    Date of Birth: January 24th, 1986

    Birthplace: Guimaraes, Portugal

    Position: Midfielder

    Caps: 6

    Club: Wolfsburg

    Brief Bio: A latecomer to senior international football, the 28-year-old Vieirinha won plenty of caps at junior level before finally getting his senior bow last year. He has played outside of his native country since 2008, first with PAOK in Greece and now Wolfsburg in Germany.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Vieirinha was part of the Portuguese team which won the European Under-17 Championship in 2003.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The midfielder was twice voted as PAOK's most valuable player, and also won the Greek Super League's Best Foreign Player award in 2011.


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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Date of Birth: November 17th, 1986

    Birthplace: Praia, Cape Verde

    Position: Winger

    Caps: 72

    Club: Manchester United

    Brief Bio: Two impressive seasons at Sporting in Portugal earned Nani a big-money move to Manchester United in 2007, however it wasn’t until compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in 2009 that he really began to find his feet. Nani was voted into the PFA Team of the Year and won the Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year award after he scored 10 goals and delivered largely consistent performances in the 2010/11 season, but he has somewhat lost his way since then, and is now seen as something of a bit-part player at Old Trafford.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Nani’s trademark “mortal” (leap of death) celebration is inspired by his background in the Brazilian martial art Capoeira (The Guardian).

    Quick-Hit Stat: Of the winger’s 14 international goals, none have come at a major international tournament, something not helped by the fact that he was ruled out of the last World Cup with a shoulder injury he picked up in training just three days before the competition began.


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    Date of Birth: December 27th, 1987

    Birthplace: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

    Position: Forward

    Caps: 6

    Club: Braga

    Brief Bio: A naturalised Portuguese, Braga forward Eder scored 13 goals in 27 games for club and country last season, as Braga won the Portuguese League Cup to go with the Portuguese Cup he won with former club Academica in 2011/12.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Eder made his debut for Portugal during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, but he is yet to score an international goal.

    Quick-Hit Stat: Whilst battling injury, Eder has scored just three goals this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Date of Birth: February 5th, 1985

    Birthplace: Madeira, Portugal

    Position: Forward

    Caps: 110

    Club: Real Madrid

    Brief Bio: The reigning Ballon d’Or winner and already established as one of the faces of this World Cup regardless of how either he or Portugal fare, Ronaldo is a global icon and one of the most recognisable figures in world sport. The Real Madrid star will have the weight of his entire country on his shoulders in Brazil, but then he’s used to that by now. His four goals over both legs of the playoff against Sweden brought Portugal to the finals.

    Quick-Hit Fact: In 2013 Real Madrid sold 1.4 million jerseys worldwide, of which one million had Ronaldo’s name on the back. Only two other clubs (Manchester United and Barcelona) sold over a million altogether (InsideWorldSoccer.com).

    Quick-Hit Stat: Since joining Real Madrid, Ronaldo has scored 51 goals in 50 Champions League games, having scored 16 in 52 at Manchester United.

Helder Postiga

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    Date of Birth: August 2nd, 1982

    Birthplace: Vilo do Conde, Portugal

    Position: Forward

    Caps: 66

    Club: Lazio (on loan from Valencia)

    Brief Bio: Now a veteran of the international game with 66 caps, Postiga made his debut for the national team over a decade ago and could play in his fifth major international tournament in Brazil. Although remembered as a flop in England after a season with Tottenham, he enjoyed happier times at Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Zaragoza, Valencia and now Lazio.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Postiga scored against Germany in the 2006 World Cup.

    Quick-Hit Stat: He has 27 international goals, including three a major tournaments, a tally second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in this squad.

Silvestre Varela

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    Date of Birth: February 2nd, 1985

    Birthplace: Almada, Portugal

    Position: Winger/Forward

    Caps: 21

    Club: Porto

    Brief Bio: Having failed to make the grade at Sporting Lisbon, Varela has since shone at rivals Porto after joining them from Estrela Amadora in 2009. He made his senior international debut in 2010 and was included in the squad for Euro 2012 by manager Paulo Bento.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Varela scored an 88th-minute winner as Portugal beat Denmark 3-2 in a group game at Euro 2012, one of his four international goals to date.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The wide man has won three Portuguese League titles, two domestic cups and the Europa League.

Hugo Almeida

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    Date of Birth: May 23rd, 1984

    Birthplace: Figueira da Foz, Portugal

    Position: Forward

    Caps: 53

    Club: Besiktas

    Brief Bio: Once regarded as one of the hottest striking properties to come out of Portugal, target man Almeida has scored goals in his homeland as well as Germany and Turkey. He was part of the Portugal squad at both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

    Quick-Hit Fact: Almeida scored at the last World Cup in Portugal's 7-0 win over North Korea.

    Quick-Hit Stat: The forward found the net 12 times for Besiktas this season, but he hasn't scored for Portugal for over a year.