Portugal coach Fernando Santos has packed sufficient cigarettes in his suitcase that may final him a month at Euro 2020. “The goal is to be European champions,” Santos instructed state broadcaster RTP early this week. “Since I became Portugal manager, my thinking is that we go into every tournament to win it. I’m taking a suitcase for one month.”
If Santos had made the identical assertion 5 years in the past, not many would have believed him. Some could have laughed, others cringed.
At Euro 2016, Portugal had been by no means the favourites, not even shut with odds of 20/1. France, England, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy had been all fancied for the title, however Portugal shocked the hosts in further time on the Stade de France.
It was a shocking triumph, a primary for the nation at Euros or any main soccer championship. When captain Cristiano Ronaldo was stretchered off after simply 25 minutes into the ultimate, no one gave them an opportunity. Portugal, although, believed in themselves and registered one of the extra well-known triumphs, due to a 109th minute strike from substitute Eder.
Five years later, can Portugal match Spain’s feat of retaining their European crown?
“In 2016, apart from the coach and the players, I don’t think anyone else believed that Portugal could become champions,” former Benfica midfielder Joao Coimbra instructed TOI. “This time it’s different. The belief is strong. This is a great team and everyone expects them to become champions. Portugal has the best players in the world.”
For a very long time now, the very best for Portugal has all the time been Cristiano Ronaldo. He guided the crew to its first main triumph, overtook Luis Figo’s report as Portugal’s most capped participant, and although Benfica’s Sixties star Eusebio enjoys legendary standing within the nation, CR7 is in a league of his personal.
This will probably be Ronaldo’s fifth Euro championship, a report. He has performed 21 video games, one other report, and may overtake former Iran striker Ali Daei, the one different male footballer to surpass the 100-aim milestone. No marvel he has sufficient motivation, however Santos has a lot expertise at his disposal that even Ronaldo, imagine it or not, might be surplus to necessities.
“If Cristiano is not giving the team what we intend, he will have to be a substitute. He will have to understand,” stated Santos, a person with the braveness of his convictions.
At 36, even when Ronaldo is just not at his finest, Santos has little to fret. He has sufficient star energy in each division.
Just take a look at the defence. Manchester City centre-again Ruben Dias was voted the Premier League’s Player of the Year. Pepe – Most worthy participant at Euro 2016 – nonetheless has a lot to supply, whereas fullbacks Joao Cancelo (City) and Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund) are nearly as good, if not higher, than anyone else in Europe.
If the defence seems settled, the assault seems even higher. Of course, there’s Ronaldo and he’ll now be backed by the likes of Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Félix (Atletico Madrid), Bernardo Silva (City), Diogo Jota (Liverpool) and Renato Sanches (Lille).
Experienced Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Rui Patricio has a secure pair of arms.
“Portugal was always blessed with great players right from the days of Eusebio and (Luis) Figo and (Rui) Costa, but this group is special. It has the talent, experience and, more importantly, the winning mentality. These guys know how to win matches, many times due to their individual brilliance,” says Coimbra, who gained the U-17 European Championship with Portugal in 2003 and had a spell at Kerala Blasters within the Indian Super League.
Even with all of the expertise, it will not be straightforward.
If in 2016 winless Portugal completed third in a bunch with Hungary, Iceland and Austria, this time they’ve a mountain to climb proper from the beginning. The defending champions are clubbed with world champions France, former champions Germany and tough Hungary.
They haven’t got the house benefit too. Portugal and France play all their matches away, whereas Germany play all three group video games at dwelling. Hungary will play two of their three group video games at dwelling.
“It’s such a tough group where if you told me Portugal is going out, I wouldn’t be surprised. But if we go through, we are capable of going until the end,” AS Roma’s just lately-appointed supervisor Jose Mourinho wrote in a single of his latest newspaper columns.
Mourinho is aware of all about successful, and so does Ronaldo.
If Portugal go all the way in which, Ronaldo would have gained two European Championships in a row and grow to be the primary to have featured in three finals. That’s sufficient motivation for a person so obsessive about successful.