Portugal (National Football)

Key Selection Choices for Portugal in World Cup Clash with USA

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2014

Key Selection Choices for Portugal in World Cup Clash with USA

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Paulo Bento will be forced into at least three changes from the team that capitulated against Germany almost a week ago.

    He may consider further adaptations to his starting 11 after few players covered themselves in glory during the World Cup opener.

    The group stage is only three games long and there's a squad of 23 to choose from.

    If some aren't performing at the desired level, then Bento should be brave and give others the chance to shine.

    Although it should also be noted that it can disrupt the harmony of the group if a number of senior players are dropped and lose their standing at the same time.

Goalkeeper

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    Only the harshest of critics could have apportioned blame to Rui Patricio for the first three goals, but he certainly could have done better when Thomas Mueller completed his hat-trick.

    The Sporting goalkeeper's distribution was extremely poor and it seemed to set the tone for the rest of the defence.

    There was an uncertainty throughout the back line and Patricio will need to command his men better if given the opportunity against USA.

    With more than able and experienced deputies in Eduardo and Beto, Patricio will require a faultless display.

Defence

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    As Fabio Coentrao is ruled out for the rest of the tournament, via The Guardian, then a new left-back will be needed.

    Andre Almeida can play on either flank and replaced the Real Madrid defender for the final 20 minutes.

    With no other recognised full-backs in the squad he's likely to do so once again.

    The red card for Pepe means that only two of the same back four can start versus USA.

    Valencia's Ricardo Costa is experienced and has also developed a good relationship with fellow club teammate Joao Pereira on the right side of defence so will likely feature.

    Luis Neto is another option and he partnered Bruno Alves for Zenit Saint Petersburg last season but expect Costa to be given the responsibility.

Midfield

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    Miguel Veloso was the only player that was removed against Germany for tactical reasons.

    Portugal had used Raul Meireles as a temporary centre-back, but Bento decided he needed a specialist with a full second half still to come.

    It made sense for Veloso to be removed rather than Meireles or Joao Moutinho as he's the least mobile of the three options.

    But there was certainly a case for Nani or Eder to make way so that the midfield maintained its structure.

    It could be that Bento views Veloso as the most expendable of his first eleven and could opt for the youthful William Carvalho.

    An alteration to the formation is something else to consider with a move to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2, but the coach doesn't like to deviate away from his preferred 4-3-3.

Forwards

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Hugo Almeida appeared for just half an hour against Germany before he unfortunately had to withdraw.

    Braga's Eder was his replacement and the powerful forward is the logical option once more.

    He had limited opportunities, but his awkward style drew a number of fouls and he was also tidy in possession.

    Bento could decide to play Cristiano Ronaldo as a false nine, which would help them control the midfield battle which they clearly lost against the Germans.

    In order for that to work effectively, then Nani needs to have more influence, whilst Vieirinha, Silvestre Varela or even Rafa would need to be involved.

    Ideally Portugal need goals from someone other than Ronaldo which, of course, is easier said than done.

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