Portugal are perennial underachievers. Considering the quality they’ve had in their squad over the years, it’s remarkable that they’ve never won a major tournament.
Can they go all the way this time? Let’s assess their chances…
Route to Euro 2016
Portugal came top of Qualifying Group I, with seven points separating them and Albania in second place.
After a shock 1-0 defeat at home against Albania in their opening match, they went on to win seven games on the trot.
The fact that they won every one of these matches by only one goal was seen as a cause for concern by some. This is especially true of their game away against Denmark, in which the Portuguese had to rely on Ronaldo’s late winner to seal the win.
Despite considerable pedigree, Portugal have never won a major tournament. They reached the semi-finals in 1984, 2000 and 2012. Their best chance to win the Euros came as hosts in 2004, when they lost out to surprise winners Greece in the final.
Lisbon-born Fernando Santos led Porto to the league title in 1999 and took Greece to the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Santos became head coach of Portugal just in time for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
With a reputation for rescuing teams in trouble, Santos is tasked with rallying Portugal as they continue to lick their wounds following a lacklustre display in the World Cup.
Most important player
The five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or is Portugal’s best – and perhaps greatest ever – player.
This is true to such an extent that pundits continue to deride them as a one-man team. Even the man himself has bemoaned the lack of players of his level in the squad.
Ronaldo scored five of Portugal’s 11 goals in the qualifiers. The Real Madrid man’s hat-trick in their 3-2 away win against Armenia added fuel to the notion that the team’s chances of success rely too heavily on him.
Rumours continue to fly about his unrest at Madrid. But at 31, Ronaldo has not lost any of his skill or pace, and remains a potentially devastating threat to any opposition.
At 22, André Gomes has already earned the nickname ‘magician’ at Valencia. Despite a slump in form early in the 2015/16 season, Gomes is a class act.
Standing at 6’2”, Gomes is not only tall, but strong and two-footed. He shows great vision, which he uses to deliver pinpoint passes.
He’s also an impressive dribbler and his strength makes him very difficult to knock off the ball.
While it wouldn’t be fair to say that Portugal are a one-man team, they certainly do rely heavily on their star player.
If Portugal were unable to win the Euros with squads of the recent past, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll go all the way with their current team.
We think they’ll win their group, but we’re not convinced that they’ll get very far in the knockout phase.