Picking Portugal's All-Time Greatest World Cup XI

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2014

Picking Portugal's All-Time Greatest World Cup XI

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    There have been many great players to wear the red shirt of Portugal, but few who have made an impact in the biggest tournament in the sport.

    Portugal is often seen as a European heavyweight alongside the likes of Spain, France and Italy, although their record within the competition is poor.

    Out of 21 World Cups, they have qualified for the finals just six times, including this summer's event in Brazil.

    Four years ago in South Africa was only the third time they have made it out of the group stage.

    Here is Portugal's all-time greatest World Cup XI:

    Statistics from Wikipedia unless stated

Goalkeeper: Eduardo

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    Eduardo is in Paulo Bento's squad for the upcoming campaign but is unlikely to feature on the pitch.

    The Braga goalkeeper has fallen a long way since he was his country's No. 1 in 2010.

    Portugal made the last 16 in that tournament, but they did only concede one goal in the four matches they played.

    That was from David Villa and eventual champions Spain.

    Eduardo helped to shut out Ivory Coast, North Korea and Brazil in the group stages.

Defender: Miguel

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    After beginning the European Championship's in 2004 as a reserve, Miguel replaced Paulo Ferreira as his country's first-choice right-back.

    He was outstanding in the 2006 World Cup, where Portugal only conceded once in open play before the third place play-off, which he missed through injury.

    His cleverly timed overlapping runs were developed from starting out as a right-winger at Estrela da Amadora before being converted to a full-back at Benfica, the team he joined in 2000.

Defender: Bruno Alves

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    The Fenerbahce defender played in every minute of every game in the 2010 edition.

    Since then the former Porto centre-back has spent time in both Russia and Turkey.

    A threat from set pieces due to his aerial prowess, he has scored three goals in each of the last two qualifying periods.

    He has been included in the squad once again but will face stiff competition from Ricardo Costa and Pepe for a starting berth.

Defender: Ricardo Carvalho

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    The former Chelsea and Real Madrid centre-back was a commanding presence in both Germany and South Africa.

    Ricardo Carvalho's reading of the game and positioning helped give Portugal a solid base to work from.

    His organisational skills were superb as he captained not just his defence but the whole of the squad.

    In 2006, Carvalho was named in the 23 players nominated for the All Star Team of the tournament.

Defender: Fabio Coentrao

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    Left-back Fabio Coentrao played in all four of Carlos Queiroz's matches in 2010.

    His impressive displays contributed to his exit from Benfica to Real Madrid a year later.

    The relationship between him and Cristiano Ronaldo for both club and country aids the side significantly.

    Still only 26, Coentrao will be first choice during this tournament, and there's no reason why he can't appear again in four years time.

Midfielder: Tiago

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    The much-travelled holding midfielder has played in England, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain in his career.

    He has spent the last four years at Atletico Madrid where he has added the Europa League, Copa del Rey and La Liga titles to his huge collection.

    Supporters at Stamford Bridge were surprised to hear that he will be returning there after agreeing a free transfer, via the Daily Mail.

    Tiago scored two goals in Cape Town in 2010 as Portugal hammered North Korea 7-0.

Midfielder: Mario Coluna

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    Mario Coluna was an absolute midfield powerhouse and captain of the 1966 squad which finished third.

    With Benfica, he won 19 major titles during a 16-year spell at the club.

    He was dubbed Monstro Sagrado (Sacred Monster) due to his physical attributes.

    Coluna went on to make 57 caps for his country and passed away in February 2014.

Winger: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    The wide man was just 21 when he was amongst the controversy making his World Cup debut.

    Cristiano Ronaldo came through the English media witch hunt over the Wayne Rooney incident (per the Daily Mirror) and gave glimpses of the mental strength that is present today.

    He was excellent in the 2006 tournament overall and unlucky not to be named the best young player.

    Despite scoring only one goal in 2010, he was named man of the match in all three of Portugal's group matches.

    The responsibility of a nation rests on his shoulders once more, providing he can overcome his injury concerns.

Winger: Luis Figo

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    Only Simao Sabrosa has played in more World Cup final matches for Portugal, although Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to overtake the pair this month.

    Luis Figo was part of the team in 2002 and then the captain in 2006 when they made their best finish since 1966.

    He was the leader of the so-called golden generation and his silky skills were worthy of such a stage.

    His final appearance for his country saw him set up Nuno Gomes for a consolation goal in the third-place play-off against hosts Germany.

Forward: Eusebio

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    The all-time Portuguese great is the country's highest scorer in the World Cup finals.

    He was the leading goalscorer in the 1966 tournament as he hit nine goals in just six matches.

    Against North Korea in the quarter-finals, Portugal were 3-0 down inside the opening 25 minutes. Eusebio then scored four consecutive goals as they won the game 5-3.

    His link-up play with his fellow Benfica teammates meant that Portugal recorded their best-ever finish to date.

Forward: Jose Torres

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    Nicknamed O Bom Gigante (The Kind Giant)—due to his 6'3" frame—Jose Torres formed a formidable partnership with Eusebio for club and country.

    For Benfica, he scored 151 goals in 171 matches, though it was his impact in the 1966 World Cup that sees him placed into this XI.

    Torres netted in three separate games during the competition in England, including the winner against the Soviet Union.

    He participated in two World Cups separated by 20 years, as both a player and manager.