Why Joao Moutinho Is Under Most Pressure for Portugal at the World Cup

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Why Joao Moutinho Is Under Most Pressure for Portugal at the World Cup

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    There are many players within the current Portugal squad that feel like they have something to prove.

    A large reason for this is the underperformance of the national team in general.

    Some players won't receive the recognition they feel they deserve until they can show their club form for their country.

    There are others who have performed well for Portugal, but results haven't always reflected their individual contributions.

    It's natural to assume that Cristiano Ronaldo will be under the most pressure as he appears to shoulder the burden of a nation.

    Not only is he used to the spotlight, but as he has fitness concerns no one can expect too much.

    Here are the reasons why midfielder Joao Moutinho will be under the most pressure.

Huge Transfer Fee to Justify

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    Moutinho was part of the double transfer move which took him and his fellow Porto teammate James Rodriguez to Monaco for £60 million, via The Guardian.

    It's believed that the midfielder was the cheaper part of the deal at £25 million, but that's still a hefty price tag.

    Of course, no matter how well Moutinho plays in the World Cup he won't be able to repay the board and supporters of the French club.

    But he can regain the confidence that he's worth the outlay and show the watching world that he's value for money.

    He has been linked with a number of suitors from the Premier League in the past, per Daily Mail, and for many this will be their first opportunity to see him over 90 minutes.

Underwhelming Season in France

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    It hasn't been the greatest of campaigns for the Portuguese playmaker as after an initial bright start he has faded considerably.

    He did make eight assists, but scored only one goal in 30 league starts in France, via Whoscored.com.

    French newspaper L’Equipe named Moutinho as one of their five "disappointments of the season" when reviewing the campaign, per France-based journalist James Eastam for Portugoal.net.

    Next season the expectations will be higher at Monaco with a decent challenge for the title and a good run in the Champions League the minimum.

    A good performance for his country would put him in good stead for August and prove that he has the ability to influence a top team.

1st World Cup

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    The former Porto and Sporting Lisbon player missed out on South Africa four years ago, as he only made the standby list.

    Moutinho has played in two Europa League finals and won three Portuguese titles in his career.

    He has also experienced two European Championships, but the world's biggest competition is something else.

    At the age of 27, there's a developing theory that he's only at a high level within his comfort zone.

    If he's pivotal to his national side in a different continent, it would go some way to dispersing the notion.

    He will be 31 the next time the tournament rolls round and he may never have a better opportunity to make his mark.

Missed Penalty Against Spain in Euro 2012

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    Everyone remembers the names of those that miss penalties for their country in international competitions, especially if it eliminates them.

    Some never get the chance to put things right and become something of a national joke.

    Moutinho had his spot kick saved by Iker Casillas, in the first of his team's penalties.

    Paulo Bento was hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo could be decisive at the end of the shootout, but it didn't work out in that manner.

    "We had this plan," admitted the coach to the press after the semi-final, via BBC.

    "If it would have been 4-4 and he would have taken the last penalty, we would be talking in a different way."

    This is Moutinho's chance to banish that memory and with Ronaldo limping off the field in training yesterday the onus could shift to the creative talent, via The Guardian.