One of the strongest teams on paper, as we look at the best predicted starting 11 for Portugal for FIFA World Cup 2022.
The 2016 Euro Cup winners and 2019 UEFA Nations League winners, Portugal are entering the FIFA World Cup as one of the favorites. Their core team is the same that won the 2016 Euro and 2019 Nations League, and that makes them a worthy opponent to watch out for.
However, Seleção are entering the tournament with a mixed form with 3 wins and 1 draw out of 6 Nations League matches. They finished at 2nd place in group A2 behind Spain and failed to qualify for the semifinals which will be played in 2023.
Like any other top team, Portugal have also been hit by some injuries. Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto, and Ricardo Periera all were certain to play their part in this World Cup campaign for Portugal. But a mid-season injury shattered their dream.
But the good thing about this Portugal team is their bench strength. They still have a very strong starting 11 and very good backups. Selecting a starting 11 will be tricky for manager Fernando Santos. But it’s a headache that any manager would like to have. So, as we are nearing the start of the much-awaited FIFA World Cup 2022, let’s look at the best starting 11 for the Portugal side.
Bret Predicted Starting 11 for Portugal for FIFA World Cup 2022:
Santos has multiple options in every position and there are like-to-like options in most cases. He would mostly stick to a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 formation in the tournament with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the attack.
Rui Patricio, the 34-year-old experienced Goalkeeper with 104 international caps lost his place to Diogo Costa in recently concluded Uefa Nations League matches. It will be close call between Patricio and Costa for the place in front of the Goalpost. But looking at the current form and kind of faith Fernando Santos has shown in Costa, he is the favorite to start the proceedings for Portugal.
Nuno Mendes (LB)
The 20-year-old PSG defender is certainly a star in making. Apart from his defensive skills, he certainly has an eye for attacking options. He has come out of the ranks this season with 3 assists and 1 Ligue1 goal for PSG. Mendes at left and Cancelo at right will add great dimensions to Portugal’s attack.
At 39 years of age, Pepe will be the second oldest player to feature in this World Cup. He has an illustrious career both at the club and country levels. Having won Euro in 2016 and UEFA Nations League in 2019 with Portugal, he will be eying to hang his boots on high by winning the World Cup.
Rúben Dias (CB)
He is the backbone of his club Manchester City as well as of his national team. With 62% Duels Won, 67 % Aerial Duals Won, 24 clearances, and 12 Interceptions, he is in great form this season. His partnership with veteran defender Pepe will not be easy to beat for any attacking line in this World Cup.
João Cancelo (RB)
Cancelo is one of the rare breeds in World football who can play both as a left-back and right-back. Such is his comfort on the ball that if needed he can play in midfield too. With Nuno Mendes taking the left-back position, we will see Cancelo as right back in the Portuguese setup. He is a strong pillar on the right side of the defense and can provide a good attacking link-up from the right wing.
Bernando Silva (LM)
Silva is one of the sure-shot starters in playing 11. Currently, this season, he has 2 goals and 5 assists in PL. Silva has also played all but one possible UEFA World Cup qualifying match for Portugal where he scored once and provided 3 assists. Opponents will be looking to keep him quiet as long as possible as we all know how destructive he can be on his day.
Rúben Neves (CM)
Neves’ role in Portugal’s team is more of a holding midfielder which will provide more freedom while attacking the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernando Silva. Danilo Periera is another experienced option available to manager Fernando Santos. But it looks like he will go with the pace of Neves in starting 11.
Bruno Fernandes (RM)
One of the key men of the Portugal line-up, a lot will depend on Fernandes. He controls the game with his all-around display and sets the pace of the game. He played in 9 out of 10 possible UEFA World Cup qualifiers. With 3 goals and 2 assists in qualifiers, he is crucial in attacking setup as well.
It will be close call between AC Milan’s Rafael Leao and João Félix, but it seems that Felix will be the first choice of manager Santos. He has 3 goals and 3 assists in 12 La Liga matches this season. His speed, dribbling skills, and eye for through balls and passes in the last front will complement well with Ronaldo.
Just before the world cup, Cristiano Ronaldo is in the news for the wrong reasons for criticizing his current club manager and some of his teammates from past and present. But one thing is sure, the moment he will enter the field, all his focus will shift toward the game. Ronaldo will captain this Portugal side in what seems to be his last World Cup.
In the absence of Diogo Jota manager Fernando Santos has little choice but to play F.C Porto’s Otavio. Though he is not like-to-like replacement for Jota, but provides different dimensions like stability and calmness in the midfield. With 62% Tackles Won, 58% duels won, and 2 assists & 1 goal in Liga Portugal so far this season, he fits well in this Portugal line-up.
FIFA World Cup 2022: Strongest Predicted Starting 11 for Portugal
GK: Diogo Costa
Defenders: Nuno Mendes (LB), Pepe (CB), Ruben Dias (CB) & Cancelo (RB)
Mid-field: Bernardo Silva (LM), Neves (CM) & Bruno Fernandes (RM)
Attackers: João Félix, Cristiano Ronaldo & Otavio
Thanks for reading! What’s your starting 11 for Portugal for FIFA World Cup 2022? Please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Akshay is an author at Footbalytics. His love for football started way back in 1998 when Ronaldo (Not Cristiano) was his first football hero, and the list keeps getting longer ever since.
Though Akshay is a Teacher by profession, he firmly believes that there is no better classroom than the Sports field and no better Teacher than Sports.