Not a one man team by any stretch, but much depends on Cristiano Ronaldo
Despite Portugal’s rich footballing heritage, (ask your dad – he’ll remember Eusebio in the 1966 FIFA World Cup), they’ve only performed on football’s biggest stage four times – reaching the semi-finals twice. They made hard work of their fifth advance, winning just one of their first five qualifying games. For sure, Portugal will have their work cut out in Group G, which is dubbed the ‘group of death’, and includes a Brazil side seeking their sixth title and a dangerous Cote d’Ivoire side.
Carlos Queiroz Queiroz coached ‘golden generation’players such as Luis Figo and Rui Costa. He’ll be hoping his African background – he hails from Mozambique and is a former South Africa manager – works in his favour.
Player to watch
Cristiano Ronaldo Whether you view the world’s most expensive player as the greatest ball artist the game has ever seen or a show pony more interested in trickery, dives, hair cream and mirrors, the former World Player of the Year may have something to prove having basked in the shadow of Lionel Messi for much of the domestic season. While the odds are against Portugal making it all the way to the final – or to the semis – if anyone can carry a team there, it’s Ronaldo.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 4 Previous best: Third, 1966 Odds of winning: 25/1 Strange but true: Many of Portugal’s top-flight players are actually Brazilian, which has led to Brazil coach Dunga dubbing the side ‘Brazil’s B team’. Striker Liedson, midfielder Deco and Pepe, a defender, were all born in Brazil but are now naturalised Portuguese citizens. Fixtures: Cote d’Ivoire, June 15, 6pm, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth Korea DPR, June 21, 3.30pm, Cape Town Brazil, June 25, 6pm, Durban