5 Things Portugal Coach Paulo Bento Should Test in Friendly vs. Greece

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

5 Things Portugal Coach Paulo Bento Should Test in Friendly vs. Greece

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    It's the first of three friendlies for Portugal this weekend as the World Cup is fast approaching.

    The final 23 have already been named for Brazil, and now is the time for Paulo Bento to finalise his starting XI.

    First of all, Bento can test out a number of tactical variations to equip his team for the rigours and demands of tournament football.

    This is the moment to see what works and what doesn't, while reaffirming things that have worked previously.

    When the Portuguese face Germany on their opening-group fixture, they will need to be physically and mentally ready.

    Here are five things he should test out against Greece:

A Team Without Ronaldo

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    During the run-in to La Liga, Cristiano Ronaldo struggled with injuries.

    Prior to the Champions League final, Ronaldo completed 90 minutes just twice in two months.

    When you consider that he was substituted just three times through the whole of the rest of the season, it illustrates his issues.

    In Lisbon, he was clearly not 100 percent fit although he did play the full 120 minutes.

    The Real Madrid forward is without doubt Portugal's main player, and like any world-class player he will be missed if he's not in the starting line-up.

    But it would make sense to rest the Ballon d'Or winner, while seeing how the team operates without him.

Use a False Nine

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    In Portugal's last friendly with Cameroon, Ronaldo played as a striker.

    The power, strength, pace and ability of the winger means that he is as good as many of the world's finest centre forwards.

    With no particularly outstanding options as a central striker, then Bento could opt to use a false nine.

    This would give Portugal a numerical advantage in midfield when the player in the role drops in between the lines.

    It would also allow Ronaldo to take advantage of the space that has been left vacated as he cuts inside.

    Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles are the obvious candidates.

Formation Variant to 4-3-3

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Bento's preferred system is a 4-3-3, but like any decent manager he will want to be able to deploy alternative formations.

    "Every decision I make in situations like these are difficult, but our criteria are of technical-tactical nature, linked to our playing system and with the flexibility to change it," said Bento when he announced his squad, via FIFA.com.

    "These names are, for me, the ones who give more guarantees in technical, tactical and physical terms, as well as dedication to the cause during the entire competition."

    It will be interesting to see what different plans he has in mind and whether this will be utilised in the warm-up matches.

    Carlo Ancelotti's take on the 4-4-2 could be one option, with Ronaldo positioned as an inside left forward.

    Another would be to use a back three of Bruno Alves, Pepe and Ricardo Costa against teams that field two strikers.

Possession and Non-Possession

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    Unless you are Spain, there will invariably be some matches where you will have less possession than the opposition.

    Against Germany in the opening group match, Portugal can expect to have less of the ball.

    There's a decision to be made as to whether to accept that role and counter attack the Germans using speed or try to dominate the play.

    The matches with USA and Ghana will likely see Portugal needing to be more expansive in possession.

    This is the match for developing those understandings and movement when teams are sitting deep defensively.

Run-Outs for the Less Experienced Members of the Squad

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    Some players within this squad have featured only a few times for the national team.

    This would be a good opportunity to see how they combine with fellow team-mates and how they deal with the expectation that comes with wearing the shirt.

    It's only a friendly, but the more minutes that Andre Almeida, Neto, Rafa, William Carvalho, Eder and Vieirinha gain the better.