Manager Paulo Bento has made official the 23 players he will be leaning on for the next two months.
A week after narrowing Portugal's World Cup roster to 30 players, Bento made seven more cuts on Monday, trimming the final roster down to 23.
We know now who will be representing the Seleccao in Brazil, so let's take an entire look at the squad and an early projected starting 11 before pre-tournament friendlies shake things up.
|DF||Fabio Coentrao||Real Madrid|
|MF||Miguel Veloso||Dynamo Kyiv|
|FW||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid|
Note: Roster courtesy of FPF.pt
Starting 11 Projections
Portugal, who were disappointingly eliminated in the round of 16 in South Africa, have a difficult task in front of them. Germany, the United States and Ghana make up what many believe to be the most dangerous group.
Fortunately, having Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most transcendent players in the world, makes things a little easier. The reigning Ballon d'Or winner netted 47 goals across 40 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League with Real Madrid this season, and as Sweden know all too well, he's more than capable of taking over on the international level, too.
While Portugal will likely go as far as the 29-year-old carries them, he isn't worried about the burden.
"I won’t be putting myself under any pressure," he recently told AS, via the Daily Mail's Michael Wade. "I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I’ve spent many years playing at the highest level."
As Portugoal.net's Tom Kundert noted, this selection moves CR7—along with defender Ricardo Costa—into yet another record book:
Annoucement of Portugal squad coming up: CristianoRonaldo & perhaps RicardoCosta will become 1st Portuguese players to go to 3 World Cups.— Tom Kundert (@Portu_Goal) May 19, 2014
Ronaldo will be joined by Real Madrid teammates Fabio Coentrao and Pepe, who both figure to start along the back four.
One of the more surprising exclusions from Bento's final squad is Ricardo Quaresma. The 30-year-old Porto midfielder was expected to get the call to Brazil, but The Guardian's Matthew Tomaszewicz explains why Braga's Rafa was selected instead:
Bento brings Rafa, cuts Quaresma. Bento is an extremely static manager... Rafa can help break down a compact, low-block defense.— Matthew Tomaszewicz (@shinguardian) May 19, 2014
BigSoccerHead.com's Eric Krakauer provides another potential reason:
The reaction to Quaresma's exclusion is quite positive. Most think he would be a cancer in the locker room. #Portugal— Eric Krakauer (@bigsoccerheadNY) May 19, 2014
The rest of Portugal's squad is an interesting mix of young and old.
How far will Portugal go at the 2014 World Cup?
Veterans such as Raul Meireles, Nani and Helder Postiga provide loads of experience, while Rafa, Andre Almeida and William Carvalho are all 23 or younger and have two first-team caps or fewer.
The latter of those three, Sporting Lisbon's bright young superstar, has been rumored as a top Premier League target and could easily crack Portugal's starting lineup.
Portugal have never been lacking in the talent standpoint, and that clearly once again rings true. The Seleccao may not be among the favorites in Brazil, but if that talent can find a way to gel around one of the best players in the world, there's no question a deep run is possible.