Home scoreless draws with Albania and Sweden in qualifying left Carlos Queiroz's team facing the dreaded playoffs. An improving, attack minded Bosnia-Herzagovina lay in wait, and after a nervy first leg in Lisbon, Portugal closed out the contest with a 1-0 win in Bosnia.
If the Iberians are to even escape from their group in South Africa, then Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. will need to be far more prolific to get by Brazil and the Ivorians.
World Cup History
For a nation of such footballing stature, this is only Portugal's fifth World Cup appearance, the most famous of which came in 1966. In England, a Eusebio inspired team beat Brazil in the group stage bfore meeting North Korea in the quarter finals. A 3-0 deficit was turned around almost single handedly by the Benfica legend, as the Europeans went on to win 5-3 and ultimately finish third having been defeated by the eventual champions.
Schedule: Group G
Cote d'Ivoire, June 15—Port Elizabeth
Korea DPR, June 21—Cape Town
Brazil, June 25—Durban
The draw has not been kind to all four teams involved, although the structure of the fixture list offers some solice to the Selaccao. With Brazil up last, there is the possibility that an understrength team will take the field in Durban, as Brazil may have already acquired the neccessary six points. That said, in their most recent friendly in 2009, the home side ran out 6-2 winners in Brasilia.
The Portuguese players cannot be counting on a favour from their forler colony however, as Ivory Coast pose a serious threat, with or without captain Didier Drogba. Although if they can achieve at least a draw in the game, the Ronaldo lead team will believe they have a foot in the second round.
With Ronaldo not firing, that task may be left up to the likes of Simao Sabrossa and Nani. The two wide men are far more mercurial than their captain but are certainly capable of the type of magic that can inspire the team.
One to Watch: Danny
Worst Case Scenario
Not only defeat to the North Koreans but failure to even finish second would be a disaster for Portugal and even more so for their coach, who will surely lose his job if that transpires.
The opening game with Cote d'Ivoire should be the groups most significant game. The tie with Brazil is mouth watering for the neutral but the first game will be the most important. Progression to the second round should be the height of their capabilities however.