Ranking Portugal's Players on Their Euro 2016 Performances

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2016

Ranking Portugal's Players on Their Euro 2016 Performances

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    They were the shock winners in France, but which of Portugal's players impressed the most during Euro 2016?

    During a tournament in which the obdurate Portuguese only led once after 90 minutes (and indeed were never behind), Fernando Santos' side ultimately deserved a success built largely on perspiration and passion rather than the purity of their football.

    The new European champions certainly deserve to be respected, but who were the standout members of their squad?

    Let's get ranking.

N/A: Anthony Lopes and Eduardo

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    The only members of Portugal's squad who didn't play a minute in France were, unsurprisingly, the two back-up goalkeepers.

    With Rui Patricio in fine form, neither Lyon's Anthony Lopes nor Dinamo Zagreb's Eduardo were able to get on to the pitch in the tournament, but both would doubtless have been valuable squad members as well as welcome influences in training.

21. Rafa Silva

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    He's been a fine player for Braga over the last few seasons, but it hasn't quite happened for Rafa Silva in tournaments for Portugal just yet.

    After being an unused substitute at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he played just one minute at Euro 2016, coming on for Nani in the goalless group-stage draw against Austria in Paris.

20. Eliseu

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    The full-back positions became a bit of an issue for Santos throughout his month in France, and 32-year-old Benfica left-back Eliseu was never too convincing when he came into the side for the impressive Raphael Guerreiro.

    He struggled badly in the 3-3 draw with Hungary, which at one stage threatened to eliminate the Portuguese before they got out of the group, with his only other game coming in the penalty-shootout win over Poland.

19. Bruno Alves

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    Veteran defender Bruno Alves was a worry for many Portuguese fans coming into the tournament, but ultimately he was only needed for 90 minutes, and his fairly solid performance in the semi-final against Wales helped keep the underdogs at bay.

    The 34-year-old stood up to the challenge of Gareth Bale and Co., and he'd doubtless have been a key figure in the celebrations in the final which followed.

18. Vieirinha

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    After starting the tournament as Portugal's first-choice right-back, a series of erratic performances in the group stage led to Vieirinha losing his place to Cedric Soares by the time the knockout matches rolled around.

    The Wolfsburg man was at fault for Birkir Bjarnason's equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Iceland in the opening match, and he then put in a poor performance in the 3-3 draw with Hungary which led to Santos changing three of his four defenders for the knockout stage.

17. Ricardo Carvalho

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    Like Vieirinha, Ricardo Carvalho started the tournament with a spot in Santos' first-choice defence but, in what must have been one of the more difficult decisions for the manager, the veteran was dropped from the side following the group stage.

    The former Chelsea and Real Madrid defender, 38, has been a wonderful player over the years, and he started this tournament in decent form, but the Hungary game badly exposed a lot of pace and positioning, and this would surely be the ideal time for him to retire from international football.

16. Joao Moutinho

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    After having a less-than-impressive season with AS Monaco due to injury concerns, Joao Moutinho was never quite able to capture the type of form we all know he's capable of during the tournament.

    He featured in six of Portugal's seven matches but completed the full 90 minutes in just one and failed to start any of the matches in the knockout rounds.

15. Andre Gomes

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    One of the players tipped to make a breakthrough at this tournament before it started, it never quite happened for Valencia's highly rated Andre Gomes, not that he'll care about that when he looks at his winners' medal.

    He started Portugal's first four matches at the tournament, but he was substituted earlier each time in all of them, with a late cameo appearance against Wales his only other game in a tournament where his lack of impact ultimately didn't harm his side.

14. Danilo

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    He started the tournament in the team ahead of William Carvalho in the 1-1 draw with Iceland, but over the month the FC Porto midfielder Danilo became a valuable substitute for Santos as he frequently filled in when needed.

    With Carvalho suspended, he also started the semi-final win over Wales, and the 24-year-old enhanced a growing reputation with a series of steady, strong performances which showcased him as a worthy squad member.

13. Cedric Soares

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    Coming in for Vieirinha after the right-back's disappointing group-stage form, it can't have been easy for what was probably a nervy Cedric Soares, who was suddenly being relied upon by his country despite having only 11 caps to his name.

    Yet the Southampton man coped admirably with the increased pressure, opting to keep things simple on the right side of defence and occasionallyand impressivelygetting forward to add to attacks.

12. Joao Mario

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    Rather like Andre Gomes, there was probably a little more expected of Joao Mario coming into the tournament, but although the Sporting Lisbon man never quite hit the heights, he did at least work hard for his team and featured in all seven of their matches.

    In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo for much of the final, his tireless display over 120 minutes against France in Paris summed up a lot of what this Portuguese team were about.

    Even though it would have been nice to see him show a little more quality on the ball, you can't criticise him for a lack of work rate.

11. Adrien Silva

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    Perhaps a surprisingly high position for a player who didn't feature until the knockout stages, but Adrien Silva's tigerish midfield displays came to be so important to his side as Santos only came to trust him late on in the tournament.

    The Sporting Lisbon man was a relative late-comer to international footballand to the tournamentbut although he might not be wildly celebrated for his quality on the ball, his work ethic summed up a lot of what this Portuguese side was about.

10. Eder

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    Six minutes against Iceland. Seven minutes against Austria. Forty-one minutes against France. 

    That's all that Eder played at Euro 2016, but for all the hard work and effort that the other Portuguese players put in, they wouldn't have just had the best 48 hours of their lives if it wasn't for the forward's dramatic, spearing drive into French hearts 11 minutes from the end of extra time.

    His is a name which is now etched in Portuguese history, and that's worth a top-10 place, surely?

9. William Carvalho

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    Excellent in the final victory over France, William Carvalho overcame being left out of Portugal's opening game with Iceland to play a key role for his country over the past month.

    The only other game he missed was the semi-final win over Wales when he was suspended, but yellow cards were an occupational hazard for a player whose reputation as a tough-tackling, hard-working defensive midfielder was enhanced over the tournament.

    A transfer away from Sporting Lisbon could feature in his future.

8. Ricardo Quaresma

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    Every squad needs the spark and the maverick influence which can often get you over the line.

    That was particularly true of a Portugal squad which relied a lot more on hard work than great football, and in Ricardo Quaresma, they had a man who helped drag them over the line in the knockout stages.

    The Besiktas winger, long seen as an enigmatic talent, popped up with the winning goal in the last 16 against Croatia and then the winning penalty in the quarter-final against Poland, playing a part in all seven of his side's matches along the way.

7. Jose Fonte

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    The feelgood story of this Portugal squad, Southampton defender Jose Fonte arrived late into international football and late into this tournament, playing in all of the knockout matches after being overlooked for Ricardo Carvalho in the group stage.

    The response was the concession of just one goal in the next 450 minutes of action, with Fonte standing firm alongside Pepe to form the defensive barrier which secured tournament success.

6. Raphael Guerreiro

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    Throughout the tournament it became apparent that Borussia Dortmund had got themselves a bargain with the £9.5 million signing of 22-year-old left-back Raphael Guerreiro.

    He was inches away from becoming the hero in the final when his free-kick clattered back off the crossbar, and with Eliseu struggling in the matches in which he was injured before, it became clear that the Portuguese have found a long-term replacement for Fabio Coentrao on the left of their defence.

5. Nani

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    Playing all but 14 minutes of Portugal's tournament, winger Nani turned in a series of displays which showcased that his game seems to have finally matured following years of being seen as something of a disappointment.

    The former Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Fenerbahce man underlined this increased responsibility by taking the captain's armband when Cristiano Ronaldo left the field in the final, and after scoring three goals at the tournament, he can rightly be proud of his month in France.

4. Renato Sanches

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    Exceeding all expectations for a teenager in a major tournament, Renato Sanches had a wonderful time in France, where his strong, driving runs from midfield quickly became a key element of his side's attempts to turn defence into attack.

    Newly signed by Bayern Munich, the 18-year-old became the youngest goalscorer in the knockout rounds at a Euros with his strike in the quarter-final win over Poland, and his youthful energy added a dash of invention to a hard-working side which was crucial in their success.

3. Pepe

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    Outstanding in the final win over France, where he was voted as UEFA's man of the match, Pepe's tournament reminded everyone that for all of his antics the Real Madrid defender really is one of the best in the world at what he does.

    Playing in six of the seven matches Portugal faced in the tournament, the centre-back was strong and dominant where he needed to be, and he seemed to set himself up as the rock upon which his side could build their success.

2. Rui Patricio

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    A calm and commanding presence throughout the tournament, goalkeeper Rui Patricio was on the pitch for every minute of Portugal's success and was one of the key reasons behind it.

    He conceded just five goals in his seven appearances, with three of those coming in one game against Hungary (when two were deflected) and none in the final against France when his assurance and ability to control his defence helped keep out the frustrated hosts.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    It's the main man who takes the top spot, with Cristiano Ronaldo's influence on this Portugal side already more than apparent before he limped off in the final.

    After a disappointing first two games, his two goals in the draw with Hungary helped his side escape the group, and then from there, it was his leadership skills which dragged his side forward, with his star turn as a frustrated onlooker in the final taking plenty of attention away from the pitch.

    He deserves this success as much as anyone, and how he loved it when it arrived.

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