ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|Portugal won the tricky UEFA group 2 on goal difference ahead
of Ireland and Holland.
here for details
|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.
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.
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information
on who keeps this site available.