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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Sporting Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)

Defenders: Andre Almeida (Benfica), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Luis Neto (Zenit), Pepe (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia)

Midfielders: Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting LIsbon), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev)

Forwards: Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Eder (Braga), Nani (Manchester United), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Rafa (Braga), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Silvestre Varela (Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg)

Portugal
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Portugal's heavy reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo was perfectly demonstrated in their scrappy qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Paulo Bento's enigmatic side can be brilliant on their day, but it would appear that their star man lacks the support to make them a genuine contender to win this year's showpiece in Brazil.

Ronaldo's outstanding 2013 – which saw him net 66 goals in 56 matches for club and country – ensured Real Madrid's talisman deservedly got his hands on FIFA's Ballon d'Or award.

And he will be out to prove he can carry his form onto the world's biggest stage in Brazil, having scored just twice in 10 previous World Cup appearances.

Portugal were forced to do it the hard way in their ultimately successful bid to reach their sixth World Cup, as they qualified through the play-offs for the second time running.

After seeing off Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 2010 play-offs, this time Portugal met Sweden following an average qualification campaign that saw them held to draws against Northern Ireland and Israel.

Ronaldo's goal gave Portugal a 1-0 first-leg win and he quickly gave his side the lead in the return fixture in Stockholm, only for a double from Sweden's own icon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to level the aggregate score.

Ronaldo again stepped up when asked, though, netting another two goals to seal his side's spot in Brazil, but their all-time leading scorer cannot be expected to do it all himself at the finals.

The likes of Helder Postiga and Silvestre Varela need to play important roles for Portugal, and the former can be pleased with his efforts in qualifying.

Postiga netted six goals in the campaign and must shoulder some of the load up front for his country if they are to make a significant impact.

Portugal – who face Germany, the United States and Ghana in Group G – will also need a big contribution from midfield maestro Joao Moutinho.

Moutinho has caught the eye since swapping Porto for Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and could be poised to have an impact in the prime of his career at 27, while Real Madrid defender Pepe and Fenerbahce midfielder Raul Meireles will add plenty of big-game experience.

The nation's best effort at a World Cup came in 1966, as the late, great Eusebio helped fire them to a third-placed finish.

Another 20 years passed before they reached the tournament again, but their failure to get out of the group stage was replicated again in 2002 when, as a player, Bento missed out on the round of 16.

Portugal's UEFA Euro 2004 final appearance was followed by finishing fourth at the 2006 World Cup before eventual winners Spain sent them packing four years later in South Africa in the last 16.

And Portugal will be hoping they do not meet Spain at this tournament, with Vicente Del Bosque's side responsible for their exit in the Euro 2012 semi-finals as well.

Bento's men will also be wary of Germany, who came so close to success in 2010.

Having made it out of their group, Germany then embarrassed England and Argentina before losing in the semi-finals to Spain.

They have targeted another impressive start and play their opening game against Portugal on June 16.

That means Bento's will need to begin the tournament sharply, increasing the importance of Ronaldo's fitness.

He was plagued by problems throughout the latter part of the season, with a muscle strain almost threatening to keep him out of the UEFA Champions League final.

As it was, he recovered in time to play a starring role as his club side completed an unprecedented 10th European triumph.

Ronaldo was at the heart of that win, scoring the fourth goal as Real beat city rivals Atletico 4-1 after extra time.

He is likely to need another starring performance if he is to enjoy more success in Brazil.

Player Profile (Cristiano Ronaldo)Edit

Position: Attacker
Date of Birth: February 5, 1985
Club: Real Madrid
International Debut: v Kazakhstan (August 20, 2003)
World Cup Appearances: 10
World Cup Goals: 2

After winning the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or, Cristiano Ronaldo will be out to prove he is the best player on the planet at the FIFA World Cup.

Ronaldo - who scored 66 goals in 56 matches for club and country last year - pipped Barcelona forward Lionel Messi to the award and comparisons between the two are never likely to cease given their outstanding records in both domestic and international football in the same era.

Messi's four successive Ballon d'Or victories were broken by Ronaldo, with the Real Madrid star also having triumphed in 2008.

The pair are the standout players of their generation and could be spoken about in the same breath as legends Pele and Diego Maradona if they can fire their country to World Cup success.

Ronaldo's task seems harder than the one facing Messi, though, with Paulo Bento's side increasingly reliant on outstanding performances from the 29-year-old captain.

This was evident in Portugal's scrappy qualification for the World Cup, with a Ronaldo masterclass needed to decide a two-legged play-off against Sweden.

He scored the only goal in the first leg, a 1-0 home win, and then fired his side in front in the return game in Stockholm.

A brace from Sweden talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the play-off evenly poised, only for Ronaldo to find another gear, as two goals in the space of three second-half minutes settled the clash.

That sort of performance indicates that he may be ready to take this year's World Cup by the scruff of the neck and up his goals tally, particularly after scoring eight times in the qualification campaign.

Ronaldo has starred for Portugal in both the 2006 and 2010 editions of football's showpiece event, but has netted just twice in 10 appearances.

There are not many trophies that Ronaldo has failed to win in his outstanding club career at Manchester United and Real, but success has eluded him at international level, despite Portugal possessing an excellent record at major tournaments.

They reached the UEFA Euro 2004 final, a tournament they hosted, only to surprisingly lose to Greece, while they have also contested semi-finals at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Ronaldo - who became Portugal's all-time leading scorer after netting a double in a 5-1 friendly win over Cameroon in March - burst onto the scene at Euro 2004 and was equally as impressive at his first World Cup two years later, as his country reached the last four for the first time since 1966.

His only goal of the tournament was a penalty in a 2-0 win over Iran, but it was his displays down the left wing that drew praise, despite controversy surrounding his wink at club-mate Wayne Rooney, after the striker was sent off in a fiery quarter-final defeat of England.

Ronaldo, who has won over 100 international caps, again impressed in all of Portugal's group stage fixtures at the 2010 World Cup, which included a goal in a 7-0 rout of North Korea.

Portugal were knocked out by eventual winners Spain in the last 16 and it ended a largely disappointing tournament for Carlos Queiroz's men, who failed to score in three of their four matches.

And although history repeated two years later at the European Championship - when Spain knocked them out in the semi-finals - the decision to give Ronaldo a free role in attack paid dividends for new coach Bento, and has continued to do so ever since.

Portugal will hope to avoid the Spaniards in Brazil and begin in a tough Group G, alongside Germany, USA and Ghana, but should achieve progression if Ronaldo produces his best.


News SourcesEdit

Portugal Football Federation website: http://www.fpf.pt/

English-speaking Portugal football portal: www.portugoal.net

Editor of Portugoal's website: @Portu_Goal

Sport section of English-speaking Portugal newspaper: http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/sport

Correio da Manha (newspaper) sports section: http://www.cmjornal.xl.pt/

Diario de Noticias (newspaper) sports section: http://www.dn.pt/desporto/

Jornal de Noticias (newspaper) sports section: http://www.jn.pt/paginainicial/desporto/default.aspx

Publico (newspaper) sports section: http://www.publico.pt/desporto