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Portugal

Population: 10,000,000
Area: 91,391 km²
Capital: Lisbon
Language: Portuguese

 
THE ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
Portugal won the tricky UEFA group 2 on goal difference ahead of Ireland and Holland.
Click here for details

 
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Participations: (2) 1966 and 1986
Best placing: Third place 1966
Topscorer: Eusebio, 9 goals
More detailed history information

 
FIRST ROUND MATCHES
Jun 05 - POR v USA  in Suwon
Jun 10 - POR v POL  in Jeonju
Jun 14 - POR v KOR  in Incheon

 
ONE TO WATCH
Luis Figo is one of the world's greatest players. His contributions on the wing will be some of the highlights of the World Cup. The Portuguese fans also expect him to score a few goals and so do we.

 
WCA VERDICT: Through to KO stage
Portugal have by far the best squad on paper in this group and should progress rather comfortably to the second phase. Figo and Rui Costa on top of their powers are having their first and probably only shot at the World Cup title this summer. That will inspire them.



THE FIRST AND ONLY SHOT AT THE TITLE FOR THIS GREAT GENERATION


by Ruud Doevendans


    Can this superb Portugese generation do, what their predecessors did 36 years ago? Can Figo step into the footsteps of Eusebio? Can Rui Costa dominate midfield just like Mario Coluna? I donít think so. And thatís not because they donít have the talent to do so, because these two are brilliant players and they have some good support in Pauleta, Nuno Gomes, Fernando Couto and Sergio Conceicao. But there is something missing. I donít know how to name it, but maybe itís the ability to win it all. And, on second thoughts, maybe there are too few really great players.

    The goalkeeper, whichever Portugal take, is not great. Even Vitor Baia, who once was considered at least one of the best on earth, has faded away because of a string of injuries. And in Barcelona, he couldnít fight his way into the team. In the end he wasnít the big goalie he seemed to be. At the moment heís injured again, and his possible replacements havenít convinced either. It might be Ricardo or even Quim, but here Portugal will not make the difference. Not in a positive way, at least.

    Portugalís central defence is slow, but strong in the tackle. And in the air. Fernando Couto finally won his place in Lazio Roma, and Jorge Costa is now playing for Charlton Atheltic in England. They have been together in the national team for almost a decade now, and itís not easy to surprise them anymore. At full-back lately Frechaut and Rui Jorge were chosen, but for the left side Manuel Dimas is still a main factor. And on the right, Liverpoolís Abel Xavier is not out of contention either.

    Portugalís midfield, thatís were it has to come from. Figo is the big gun here, and although heís been struggling with injuries lately he must still be mentioned among the greatest players in the world today. His replacement Nuno Capucho is also a fine player. Figoís partner-in-business has been Rui Costa since the early 90ís. Rui Costa usually is a strong starter, but fades away as time goes by. Thatís a shame, because he has the talent to make the difference. Heís is, just like Figo, an excellent dribbler and he can score, too. Beautiful to watch, but not always the winner when it counts. For the defensive part in midfield, there are several candidates. Vidigal has done well during Euro 2000 and I am an admirer of Paulo Bento. Other possibilities here are Andrade and Hugo Viana.

    Pauleta has been a big star this year in France, notching almost every goal Bordeaux has scored. He is the favourite for the central position in attack, although he will have to shake off challenging Nuno Gomes, who has an indifferent year at Fiorentina but has scored a string of goals for the national team. If it doesnít work, there is always old hero Joao Pinto. Sergio Conceicao can play either right or left, is quick and agile.

    Looking at the group theyíre in, I can only see Portugal winning it. Much more quality than the USA or South Korea, much more experienced than the Poles. From the last 16 on, every match will be a do-or-die matter. They will face the number two from the Italy-group, and that will be Croatia as I see it. Difficult for Portugal, and should they win this one, Spain will be waiting. And that would be the end for Portugal. A great generation, some real stars and some fine players, but no winners.



A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY

by Jan Alsos


    Portugal made their debut on footballís biggest stage in 1966 and what a debut it was. Champions Brazil were soundly beaten in the first round along with Hungary and Bulgaria. A superb team led by Eusebio went all the way to the semifinals where they lost to England. In the quarterfinal Portugal came from three goals down against North Korea to win 5-3 -- the biggest ever comeback goalwise in World Cup history. Eusebio was topscorer of the tournament with 9 goals.

    It took twenty years until Portugal qualified again, but this time with a team nowhere near the class of 1966. Portugal beat England and revenged their semifinal loss from 1966, but lost against Poland and Morocco and were eliminated in the first round.

 

 

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