World Cup 2010: Portugal's Top Five Performances of All Time
The 19th FIFA World Cup is only three weeks away and speculations have started being made about who could be the possible winners.
Portugal has been impressive in their World Cup qualifiers and are touted as the dark horse in the race for World Cup glory. Although they have been seeded in the "Group of Death" alongside Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea they are expected to make it to the elimination stage.
The 1966 World Cup is still considered the best performance by the national team. The team finished third place in their debut World Cup and have failed to achieve such success since.
This year Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. will be looking to better their previous performances and earn glory for themselves.
In the following slides we will take a look into Portugal's best five performances of all time.
25 June, 2006: Battle of Nuremberg
No list of Portugal's all time great matches can be complete without the Battle of Nuremberg. Although the match is not counted as Portugal's greatest, it will always be an integral part of Portuguese football.
The Battle of Nuremberg is the nickname for the Round of 16 matches played between Portugal and the Netherlands in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
When the Russian referee Valentin Ivanov blew the final whistle, it concluded one of the most notorious matches of all time. An unprecedented 16 yellow and four red cards were required by the referee to keep the match under control.
The ill-tempered match ended 1-0 for Portugal, who won by the solitary goal scored by their midfielder Maniche. They went on to beat England on penalties in the quarter-finals before losing out 1-0 to France in the semis.
The match saw Portugal's Deco and Costinha being sent off while Netherland's Van Bronckhorst and Boulahrouz were given marching orders.
The match resulted in FIFA changing its rules to make the game more flexible and hand out powers to the referees.
13 October, 2004: The Russian Routing
After a lame display by Portugal resulted in a 2-2 draw with lowly-ranked Liechtenstein, the team faced severe criticism from the Portuguese press and were dubbed a "laughing stock."
They bounced back from their humiliating draw and answered their critics with a 7-1 thrashing of Russia four days later.
The match against Russia is considered as one of the best-ever performances by the Portugal national football team.
The in-form Cristiano Ronaldo and substitute Armando Petit scored twice each as Russia crumbled in the face of a superb Portuguese display in the Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon.
The 7-1 routing was also the largest defeat ever for the Russian side since the demise of the Soviet Union.
30 June, 2004: Portugal Heads to Euro Finals
Portugal's Golden had their last chance to achieve glory at Euro 2004.
The team started their campaign by finishing top of their group. Figo and Co. defeated Spain and Russia to achieve this. Then they beat the high-flying Englishmen 6-5 on penalties in a nerve-wracking quarter-final showdown to seal a semi-final spot.
In the semis against Netherlands, the host nation delivered a superb performance to earn a 2-1 win.
Portugal controlled the game and goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Maniche on either halves sealed a final spot for Scolari's squad.
An own goal from Portuguese defender Andrade gave Netherlands a lifeline, but the Portugal squad kept hold of their lead and moved into the finals after an impressive display.
19 July, 1966: Debutante Portugal Knocks Out Mighty Brazil
The 1966 World Cup saw Portugal participating in the tournament for the first time after failing to qualify previously.
The team performed superbly as they used their strength from game to game, defeating Hungary and Bulgaria in the group stages.
But their best performance was against then defending champions Brazil in the group stages. They earned a well deserved 3-1 win to knock the South Americans out of the tournament, pulling off a World Cup shocker.
Simoes scored the opener and a brace from Eusebio sealed Brazil's fate. The in-form Eusebio won the battle against his Brazilian counterpart Pele in the battle of Goodison Park.
But the Portuguese team was severely criticized for the violence to which they resorted in the match. Their planned attacks on Pele resulted in Pele being taken off the field after getting injured by a heavy tackle.
After the win against Brazil, the Portugal team went ahead with their impressive performances before losing out to England in the semifinals.
23 July, 1966: Greatest Comebacks of All Time
This was Portugal's first appearance at the World Cup and they performed superbly defeating Brazil twice to knock out the defending world champions from the tournament.
But their knock-out round showdown against North Korea is still considered their best performance of all time.
A North Korean blizzard saw Portugal trailing 3-0 by 25 minutes. But a heroic performance from Portuguese legend Eusebio saw the World Cup debutantes register one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football.
Eusebio scored four goals as Portugal came back from being 3-0 behind to win the match 5-3. The match has been etched in history of world football as one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
Eusebio, dubbed "The Black Pearl," used his dazzling combination of speed, skill and power to score a tournament-high nine goals and lead his country to the semifinals in their first World Cup appearance.