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Portuguese Football Team at World Cup 2010

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Portugal World Cup Profile

LivesoccerTV.com’s coverage of Group G finally resumes after taking a little pause. From Brazil in South America, we cross the Atlantic Ocean as we land in Portugal, in South Western Europe.

A view of Portugal's capital, LisbonPortugal – the country, the football

Portugal is actually a country situated on the Iberian Peninsula. To the north and to the east, it is bordered by Spain, while the waters of the Atlantic Ocean sweeps its west and south borders.

Portugal, which is also Europe’s westernmost country, counts the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores as well as Madeira as part of its territory. In the past centuries, Portugal were amongst the world’s most important nations.

They had explorers that helped the country to impose their cruel authority on discovered continents and nations. Several peoples from Africa and South America suffered from slavery under the dominance of the Portuguese. This European nation also spread its abhorrent presence in Asia and Oceania. Nowadays Portugal, which is a democratic republic, have left a lot of their influence in countries like Brazil and Angola among many other places.

 

However, the power of Portugal in terms of the world’s top nations has significantly reduced. The United States of America, France, England, Germany, China, and Japan have much more political, military, and economical influence around the world than Portugal. In football, the Portuguese national team has always struggled to impose itself among the elites.

Their historical pedigree is far from equaling Brazil’s, Italy’s, or Germany’s. Portugal have never won a major trophy in soccer. Will the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa be their moment to shine?

Portugal – the road to the 2010 FIFA World CupPortugal players celebrate their qualification into the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

A Selecção das Quinas didn’t have it easy at all during the qualifiers. They had to leave it late before avoiding the disaster of missing out from the first ever World Cup that will be held on African soil. The draws that were conducted in Durban, South Africa, saw Portugal sectioned in Group A with Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, and Malta.

After crashing out in the quarter-finals of the 2008 European Championship, the aim of the Portuguese national team was to bounce back by finding the perfect form that was going to lead them all the way to the finals of the World Cup. Due to his ankle operation towards the end of the summer, skipper Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t feature for Portugal in the first couple of games.

It was Nani instead who was given the go-ahead to influence the team with the number 7 shirt which he eventually wore in replacement of Ronaldo. Indeed, Nani got his name on the scoring sheet as Portugal thrashed Malta 4-1 in an easy opener.

However, A Selecção’s next match proved to be different. They hosted Denmark in Lisbon and experienced a real shock in a five-goal thriller. Nani again scored for Portugal only for his goal to be cancelled by Nicklas Bendtner’s equalizer on 84 minutes. But Deco restored the home side’s lead with a penalty two minutes later. It seemed to be the match-winner but the reality was that Denmark’s Jensen and Poulsen each grabbed a late goal to seal the visitors’ surprising 3-2 win over Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo then returned for his country although he wasn’t totally fit. Coincidently, Portugal started facing a goal drought. They drew goalless away to Sweden, at home to Albania and then to Sweden again respectively; those results just let Portugal to be under more pressure.

On June 6 last year, Portugal played at the Qemal Stafa stadium in Tirana against Albania in what came up as a must-win game for their campaign to be put back on track. Hugo Almeida opened the scoring on 27 minutes but lack of concentration saw Albania’s Bogdani equalize quickly two minutes later. As drawing for the fourth consecutive time wasn’t an option, Portugal kept pressing on until the last moments of the game. Deservedly, defender Bruno Alves netted in the winner with a header three minute into injury time.

So Portugal stole three precious points before resuming the qualifiers on September 5 where they played Denmark away from home. There was disappointment again when Bendtner scored for the Danes just before half time with a stunning strike. Now despite dominating the play, Portugal had to wait until the 87th minute before grabbing an equalizer through Sporting Lisbon striker Liedson.

Before the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers took a break, Portugal managed to boost their spirits with a vital win in Hungary as defender Pepe scored the only goal of the match. A month later, on October 10, Portugal hosted Hungary at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. At that stage, A Selecção’s fate was not in their hands. They had to win their remaining two games and hope that Sweden dropped some points as well.

Fortunately enough for the Portuguese, Sweden lost against Denmark on that day so there was some much needed psychological boost for Hungary’s opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was visibly unfit, insisted to feature for his national team in this must-win game. His presence influenced Portugal’s victory as he was involved in Simao’s vital opening goal on 18 minutes.

Ronaldo then left the pitch before half an hour due to his bothering injury but the rest of his team mates ensured that the job was done. Liedson doubled Portugal’s lead at the 74th minute before Simao completed his brace eleven minutes from time. In the last qualifying fixture, Portugal thrashed Malta 4-0 to seal their passage into the play-off.

Portugal's Ronaldo injured.Play-off

A Selecção were paired with Bosnia Herzegovina in the play-off and their fate was to be decided over two legs. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out as he had to recover from the ankle injury which sidelined him for almost two months. Portugal had to battle it out without him.

The first leg, which was staged in Portugal on November 14th, saw the home side accomplishing half of their mission. Bruno Alves stepped up to the challenge and scored the only goal of the game just after half an hour. In the second leg, Portugal kept dominating and Raul Meireles’ 56th minute goal meant that Bosnia had to score three times with less than 40 minutes remaining on the clock.

The home side’s hopes were completely brushed away; Portugal eventually held on to their 1-0 lead to seal a 2-0 aggregate win over Bosnia Herzegovina. Their dream of avoiding the cruel misery of missing out on the finals of the World Cup in South Africa was therefore accomplished.

Portugal – 2010 FIFA World Cup group stages

Portugal faced obstacles and a real scare during their qualification campaign. But the 2010 FIFA World Cup could present even more challenges as Portugal have been drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, Group G.

Match-day One: Ivory Coast vs Portugal

In their first encounter, Portugal will affront one of Africa’s finest football nations, La Cote d’Ivoire. The match will kick off at 14:00 GMT, on June 15.

The crowd at the Nelson Mandel Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth will witness a lot of rivalry: former English Premier League star Cristiano Ronaldo might be up against Chelsea’s Ivory Coast whose fitness suffered a blow during the first week of the month of June.

Ronaldo will also be facing the likes of EPL and La Liga stars like Didier Zokora, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, and Emmanuel Eboue. Can Portugal prevent Africa’s Ivory Coast from making a party?

Match-day Two: Portugal vs Korea DPR

Six days later, Portugal will play host to Korea DPR at the Cape Town Stadium at 13:30 South African local time. This fixture shall present the perfect opportunity for A Selecção to clinch three vital points.

However, things may not turn out to be easy. Portugal will try not to fall into the pit of the underdogs. Korea DPR are willing to upset the giants at the World Cup so Portugal will have to watch out for their mental strength.

Match-day Three: Portugal vs BrazilPortugal's Bosingwa in action vs Sweden.

At last, the public will be able to follow the most interesting game of the group stages at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It’s Portugal vs Brazil at 16:00 South African local time.

Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium will welcome big star names; it will be a battle of the universe as the world’s most iconic footballer Cristiano Ronaldo will rally his team mates to fight Brazil’s all-star squad.

Real Madrid players, Kaka and Ronaldo, will be reunited on the pitch but their friendship will certainly have no effect on each one’s desire to win. Will there be any nightmare for Portugal like the 6-2 defeat which they suffered in a friendly against Brazil in 2008?

Portugal – 2010 FIFA World Cup squad

Goalkeepers:

Daniel Fernandes; Beto; Eduardo

Defenders:

Ricardo Costa; Pepe; Fabio Coentrao; Rolando; Ricardo Carvalho; Miguel Brito; Paulo Ferreira; Bruno Alves; Duda

Midfielders:


Miguel Veloso; Pedro Mendes; Raul Meireles; Tiago; Deco

Forwards:

Liedson; Danny; Hugo Almeida; Cristiano Ronaldo; Simao Sabrosa; Nani (finally ruled out, has been replaced by Ruben Amorim)

Portugal – Expectations from the country and their stars

France, Germany, Italy, or even England have all tasted World Cup glory as European nations, but not Portugal. Spain’s neighbors came close twice to achieving this lifetime dream; that was in 1966 and in 2006. At both of these occasions, Portugal lost in the semi-finals and had to be content with a third-place final match.

The legendary Eusebio succeeded in bringing comfort to the people of Portugal by helping the country clinch bronze medals in 1996. But the Portuguese squad at the 2006 World Cup in Germany couldn’t emulate this feat. Led by captain Luis Figo, Portugal stumbled against the host nation and therefore returned home empty handed.  Still, they found pride and they were voted as the surprise package of the competition.

In 2010 however, avoiding humiliation won’t be Portugal’s sole target. Now with the leadership of the world’s most iconic football star, Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s ultimate wish has been set at the highest level. Eclipsing the likes of hot favorites Brazil and Spain to eventually clinch the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is the daring dream of the Portuguese people.

Presently, coach Carlos Queiroz is setting his eyes on reaching the semi-finals of the competition. But once Portugal get to that stage, then there will be no reason why they would have to miss out on the final for the third time in their World Cup history.

Obviously, the faith of millions of Portuguese will rely on Cristiano Ronaldo. But the Real Madrid superstar might not be the only one to be on the opponents' radar. Simao, Danny, and Raul Mereiles create a dangerous trio that could rise up to the challenge when needed.

And as Portugal look to maintain their good defensive record, the job will be on Bruno Alves, Pepe, and youngster Fabio Coentrao to keep the enemies from crossing Portugal's goal line.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.Cristiano Ronaldo

He is arguably one of the most gifted players on the planet and his success is remarkable in club football. At the major international level, Cristiano Ronaldo can find consolation and bitterness at the same time with a 2004 European Championship silver medal.

The star winger also benefited from some valuable experience during the 2006 World Cup: his unpopular wink and involvement in Wayne Rooney’s sending off during Portugal’s quarter-final match against England transformed him into a detested personality worldwide and therefore strengthened him mentally.

Reaching the semi-finals in what was his first ever World Cup tournament was also a great achievement. But now, being the captain of the Portuguese national team, Cristiano Ronaldo will have to prove how much he has developed under the Portuguese jersey.

Carrying a record of zero goals during the entire 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the pressure will be on Ronaldo to add more to his record 22 goals in 68 matches for his country. Actually, Portugal's opener against Cote d'Ivoire will mark exactly one year and three days since Cristiano Ronaldo last scored a competitive goal for his country.

Yes, the talisman isn't a striker and so far, he has been good in his position. But Portuguese fans are anxious to see him do what he does best under a Real Madrid shirt, which is to score. With Luis Nani having joined the list of the 2010 World Cup's injured stars, Cristiano Ronaldo will have an extra load of work to carry in attack.

Goalkeepers should be aware of his potential in the flanks as well as his ability to score from set pieces. Will Cristiano Ronaldo vie for the World Cup’s top scorer award?

The trio – Simao, Raul Meireles, Liedson

These three players may not be superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo but their team play comes very much at the benefit of Portugal’s entire squad.

Simao, for example, is a dangerous player to watch out for. He plays with much consistency no matter the level of difficulty and pressure that a game can present. As the substitute captain, he was influential in critical moments for Portugal during the qualifiers and he will be poised to perform even better at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Concerning Liedson, the Sporting Lisbon striker might be featuring in his last World Cup for Portugal. At 32, Liedson could supply his team with some much needed experience despite the fact that he is one of the less capped players. In the latter stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Liedson scored two important goals to straighten Portugal’s twisted path.

Meanwhile, Raul Meireles has progressed in midfield and he is certainly good enough to replace the good old Deco. The Porto player has scored a few important goals for Portugal. Remember that it was his goal in the second leg of the play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina that sealed Portugal's qualification into the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Portugal - Relevant quotes

Portugal coach, Carlos Queiroz: "All we're missing is Hungary, Pele, and Eusebio!"

"I'm satisfied. It's a fantistic group for World Football. North Korea too is there - a team that gives me good memories of the 1966 World Cup. [Portugal actually came from 3-0 down to win 5-3 against Korea DPR in the quarter-finals.]

"All we're missing now are Hungary, Pele, and Eusebio! [...] The only thing that is certain is that it will be a great contest."

Portugal – FIFA World Cup record

Portugal will be participating in their fifth World Cup tournament. LivesoccerTV.com shares with you their FIFA World Cup record:

2010: Qualified

2006: Fourth Place

2002, 1986: Round 1

1966: Third Place

Will Portugal conquer the world in South Africa? Catch up with LivesoccerTV.com throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup as the site will bring you all you need to be updated on the Portuguese national team!




 

Portugal World Cup Videos

Video highlights will be available after first match ends.

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