With the list of Portuguese players for the Portugal-Spain friendly match being released today, I thought I would take a stab at making a call-up list of my own. Don’t expect this to be the same as the one you will see today. For my list, I will call up 23, Paulo Bento may choose to call up less.
Goalkeepers: Eduardo, Beto, Rui Patricio
Defenders: Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Rolando, Silvio
Midfielders: Joao Moutinho, Ruben Micael, Raul Meireles, Tiago, Carlos Martins, Joao Ribeiro
Forwards: Nani, Ronaldo, Varela, Orlando Sa, Hugo Almeida, Helder Postiga, Danny
Eduardo is by-far Portugal’s number one choice goalkeeper. Even though he isn’t enjoying the greatest of seasons, he has still looked solid more often than not. Beto, of FC Porto, has not played very much at all this season, so he will be lucky to even make the bench. Rui Patricio, on the other hand, has played and played and played. The 22 year-old ‘keeper has been in good form this season. He has deserved a debut for some time now, and this might be the game for Bento to give it to him.
You simply can’t get better than the Carvalho–Pepe duo. They have been solid at Real Madrid, and they showed the same against Denmark and Iceland last month. Nuno Andre Coelho deserves a mention. He has been completely revitalized this season after making the move from Porto to Sporting this summer. He has formed a solid partnership with fellow Portuguese, Daniel Carrico. With Sporting’s latest defensive record as bad as it is, I do not feel that these two players are currently worthy of a call-up. Carrico has, for some time now, shown that he is a rock defensively, so a call-up in the near future should be expected. On the other hand, Bruno Alves has continued his good form at Porto to his new club, Zenit. The Russian club is very close to winning the league, after some impressive performances, which Alves has had a hand in. Chelsea right-back Bosingwa has made an impressive return from a year-long injury. The former Porto man had to endure the agony of missing the World Cup, but he has returned as good as when he left. I foresee him in the starting eleven. Rolando and Silvio have been bright points in the Liga Zon Sagres this season. Silvio has been an absolute break-through, cementing a place in the starting line-up for SC Braga. Rolando has also broken-through, forging a partnership with fellow center-back, Maicon. Last, but certainly not least, Fabio Coentrao. Fabio has been an absolute revelation this season for a surprising league struggling Benfica. As stated in a previous article, he has gone from a hot prospect to a worldwide-ceveted player. His current suitors? Barcelona, AC Milan, Liverpool, and Manchester City, just to name a few. Joao Pereira barely missed the list, mainly due to the fact that there were too many players. Pereira showed us during Portugal’s games against Iceland and Denmark that he knows what he is doing when it comes to playing right-back.
The Joao Moutinho that we know and love is back. Just watching him buzz around the pitch during the Iceland and Denmark game was enough to make you smile. Moutinho has surprisingly fit in perfectly at Porto. Andre Vilas Boas knows how to utilize him to his fullest, and it appears that Paulo Bento does too. Ruben Micael, also on the Porto team, has, for some time, deserved his debut. After his stellar performances for Nacional last season, he earned a switch to league giants, FC Porto, where he has since thrived. Like Coentrao, he has always been a diamond; we just had to polish him. Carlos Martins‘s talent, however, has been evident for quite a while. The Seleccao’s last two qualifiers really gave Martins an opportunity to show his ability. His four assists against Lyon in the champions league will most likely help his cause. Toulouse midfielder Paulo Machado has lit up the Ligue 1 this season. His assists and generally stellar play was enough to earn him a call for the Seleccao’s last two games. Even though he didn’t play, we should expect to see him more. I do not believe, however, that he is worthy for a call-up against Spain. Toulouse have been in a bad run of form lately, which is the main reason I have left him off the list. Besiktas winger Ricardo Quaresma, who has been in scintillating form this season, also deserves a mention. Quaresma is currently nearly recovered from an injury, but before his injury, he put in some magical performances. My readers may recall the video that I posted earlier in the season. That video just about sums up how amazing he has been. Due to the fact that he is still not quite recovered, I left him off the list. Raul Meireles is the glue that holds the team together. The former Porto man has fit in nicely at Liverpool in the much different Premier League. He always seems to step up when the team needs him. Tiago has been in good form this season for Atletico Madrid. Most notably, he scored late in the game for Atletico to seal their win over Rosenborg. Not only did he score, but he dribbled through three players before unleashing an unstoppable shot. Tiago definitely gets my nod. Next up is Joao Ribeiro. The Vitoria Guimaraes midfielder has been an integral part in their unstoppable form this season. He was great for Academia last season, but this season he has been even better. Hewell deserves his call-up. Last on the list is Tiago Targino. Targino was having a spectacular season last season, but an injury kept him on the sidelines until recently. On his return from injury, he came off the bench to score two , which helped Vitoria Guimaraes on their way against Sporting. The Guimaraes man will most likely not get the nod, but if he keeps his form up, the call will happen.
Nani has been in great form this season for Manchester United. He has also established a place in the Portugal starting eleven, after recently coming of age. Nani is a given in all call-ups. Now, Ronaldo…What can I say? He has been great this season. He will always be called up. Varela has been one of the top players in the Liga Zon Sagres this season, forging a frightening partnership with Hulk. These two players have been an integral part of Porto’s success. I would really like to see what Varela can do for the national team. Orlando Sa, who is currently on loan at Nacional from Porto has been in solid form this season. He hasn’t scored very much, but when he has, they have been important goals, most notably his header against Benfica earlier in the season. Sa showed us what he can do during the Spain-Portugal U21 game in late 2008, when he scored a hat-trick. Maybe Paulo Bento is hoping for more of the same. Werder Bremen striker Hugo Almeida also deserves a call-up. He has been in superb form for Bremen this season, and has attracted the interest of Valencia. Helder Postiga has found the form that he had at Porto. This is most likely due to Paulo Sergio’s influence, and hopefully he can bring the form back to the Seleccao. Zenit forward Danny has been in his usual superb form this season, so a call-up would be greatly deserved.