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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Portugal World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here's the Portugal World Cup preview 2022. The Seleção das Quinas will play in Group H against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.

Portugal World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup appearances: 8th

Best finish: Third place (1966)  

How they got here: Portugal had a bumpy ride to the World Cup. The team finished second in their qualifying group behind Serbia and had to earn a ticket to Qatar by defeating Turkey and North Macedonia — a.k.a. Italy's slayer — in the playoffs. 

Coach: Fernando Santos (Portuguese)

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World Cup squad: After winning the 2016 Euros and the UEFA Nations League in 2019, Portugal seeks the biggest glory in soccer with these men:

  • Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Rui Patricio (AS Roma)
  • Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), João Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris St Germain), Pepe (FC Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (SL Benfica), Nuno Mendes (Paris St Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Midfielders: Joao Palhinha (Fulham FC), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Mario (SL Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Vitinha (Paris St Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Otávio (FC Porto)
  • Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), João Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafael Leão (AC Milan), Ricardo Horta (SC Braga), Gonçalo Ramos (FC Benfica), Andre Silva (RB Leipzig)

Strongest XI: (4-3-3) Diogo Costa; João Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Nuno Mendes; William Carvalho, Rubén Neves, Bruno Fernandes; Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Leão

Injuries: N/A

What's to like: There's world-class talent in every line and the perfect blend between veterans and fascinating young players. 

Of course, all the media attention points toward Cristiano Ronaldo. The all-time top scorer wants to extend his legacy by collecting the ultimate trophy, which is still missing from his accomplished career. We also have one last tournament to enjoy Pepe's shithousery.

Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes are also well-established names in the game, while among the new blood, you can include goalkeeper Diogo Costa, Nuno Mendes, Vitinha and Gonçalo Ramos, to name a few.

Finally, this song. 

What's not to like: Manager Fernando Santos has been labeled several times as the embodiment of anti-football. Despite the talent in their boots, Portugal sometimes can be boring AF. Everybody is happy when the team wins titles, but after any minor stumbles, critics get spicy.

Then you have all the noise around Ronaldo. CR7 has already arrived in Qatar, burning down social media after his bombastic interview with Piers Morgan, and it'll be interesting to know how that affects the rest of the squad. 

X-Factor: Rafael Leão

Look, the easy answer is Cristiano Ronaldo. He's been decisive for his clubs and the national team over the last decade and will probably keep scoring match-winning goals in extra time. But he doesn't play alone. And in that context, I see Leão upgrading his global image. Leão's currently having a great season with AC Milan (seven goals and nine assists in 20 games) and maybe it's time for the big jump. 

Best hair: Sorry, Cristiano, but is's Rafael Leão. Again.

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Most likely to fuck it all up: The stingy game plan that Santos proposes is always a concern, but if everything goes south for the Portuguese, it will be because Cristiano Ronaldo's massive ego broke the dressing room.

What will make this a good World Cup: Semifinals

Bonus prediction: In Cristiano Ronaldo's press conferences, there will not be Coca-Cola bottles or cans in front of him. 

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