Portugal vs. Germany: Key Selection Decisions for Paulo Bento

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2014

Portugal vs. Germany: Key Selection Decisions for Paulo Bento

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    The World Cup is well and truly under way but we are yet to see two of Europe's better sides.

    The encounter between Portugal and Germany is a fantastic opening game and certainly wouldn't look out of place in the latter stages of the competition.

    Portugal know that a positive result against the Germans would do wonders for the confidence of the squad and the nation as a whole.

    Few pundits are talking about the possible success, however, preferring instead to focus on one individual's fitness.

    This is a chance for Paulo Bento and his men to show the world what they capable of.

    The majority of the team will line up as expected but there are still a number of questions to be answered.

Ronaldo or No Ronaldo?

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    This is a huge dilemma for Bento: if Ronaldo is 100 per cent fit then it's obviously yes, but if not, should he still play a part?

    The answer largely depends on Ronaldo's condition.

    If he's only capable of playing 45 minutes then it might be worth holding him back for the second half.

    There is also the consideration that starting him against Germany could jeopardise the rest of his tournament.

    Could Portugal afford to leave him out if he's below maximum and look instead to have him back to his best for the remainder of the group games?

    Or should Bento field Ronaldo and rest him against the USA if Portugal get a positive result versus Germany?

    It's certainly a decision that could have ramifications for the rest of the tournament.

Are the Other Injury Concerns Fully Recovered?

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    While Ronaldo has dominated the headlines, there are other players who have been struggling to be ready for the first match.

    Raul Meireles and Pepe have also joined the winger on the sidelines recently. They might not be as important as Ronaldo, but they are still key players.

    For such a huge game, Portugal can't afford to have any more players who are not at their peak condition.

    "It's always difficult to train without the full squad and it's always difficult to prepare for a big match like the German one without all the players fit," Bento said to the press last week, via sports.ndtv.com.

    Ricardo Costa and Ruben Amorim are potential replacements, although Bento could reverse the triangle in midfield and partner Miguel Veloso with William Carvalho.

Is William Carvalho Ready?

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    The highly rated holding midfielder has been widely tipped for a move to Old Trafford this summer, according to Portuguese reports, via Jamie Anderson of The Express.

    He is a player of considerable talent and will no doubt hold down the position for years to come, but at 22 years old and in a disciplined position, should Bento consider easing him into the line-up.

    He has only started three friendly matches to date, while Miguel Veloso is on the verge of his 50th cap and more than capable.

    Carvalho did start the recent friendly with Republic of Ireland alongside Raul Meireles and Joao Moutinho, but that team consisted of players that are unlikely to make the Portugal XI on Monday.

Who Will Lead the Attack?

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    If Ronaldo makes the game he will invariably start on the left wing with the view to cutting inside.

    Portugal's No. 9 is likely to be either Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga.

    Both players underwhelm domestically, but when they appear for Seleccao, they often contribute in a better way.

    Postiga is one of those rare players who boast a better strike rate for their country than their club side, while Almeida's physicality gives Portugal another dimension.

    This will be Almeida's fifth tournament for his national team, and his two goals against Ireland should see him selected for the Germany game.