How Will Portugal Move Forward?

Fernando Santos with Greece

Photo: Getty Images Europe

With the Seleção’s surprise triumph this summer still fresh in the football world’s mind, Fernando Santos will soon begin preparations to move the team forward. To begin this transition, Portugal will play two games in early September. First, the team will face Gibraltar on September 1st in the first ever meetings between the two nations. Five days later, Switzerland and Portugal will kick off both teams’ 2018 World Cup qualification campaigns. Santos will likely choose a much different squad than what was selected for the European Championship. Post-tournament friendlies are typically used as a means for experimentation and as such typically involve new players, but Santos will have to balance experimentation with results. While the result of the Gibraltar match is inconsequential, Santos will surely be looking to get a win against Switzerland, who are on paper Portugal’s most difficult opponents in their qualification group. Here’s a list of who I would argue deserves to be selected by Santos.

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Marafona (Braga)

Defenders: Pepe (Real Madrid), José Fonte (Southampton), Cédric (Southampton), Raphaël Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Nélson Semedo (Benfica), Rúben Semedo (Sporting)

Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting), Adrien Silva (Sporting), João Mário (Sporting), Danilo (Porto), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern)

Forwards: André Silva (Porto), Éder (Lille), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Valencia), Bernardo Silva (Monaco), Rafa Silva (Braga), Gelson Martins (Sporting)

Marafona could earn himself a spot on the team and edge out Hugo Ventura and Eduardo for the third goalkeeping position. His solid displays in goal for Braga last season could be enough to earn him a place. Before his injury mid-season last season, Nélson Semedo’s performances earned him his debut for the Seleção, so with his starting spot resumed for Benfica, expect him to feature. Rúben Semedo’s excellent performances last season, first for Vitória Setúbal, then for Sporting’s main team, could earn him a spot, as Portugal’s defense transitions. Though made of glass, Fábio Coentrão could be an option for Fernando Santos, provided he regains match fitness in time.

Pizzi’s performances for Benfica the past two seasons have been nothing short of outstanding, and his positional flexibility could be enough to make the team. Up top, all signs point toward this being André Silva’s for the taking. Already a starter for Porto, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see Silva leading the line for the Seleção in the near future. Bernardo Silva and Gelson Martins also both have a solid chance of being included. Silva looks to continue as one of AS Monaco’s leading men, while Gelson Martins’s performances last season warrant at least an introduction to the Seleção.

With the amount of talented players Fernando Santos has to choose from, it is difficult to narrow it down to a list of 23 players. Players like João Moutinho (Monaco), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb), Hugo Ventura (Belenenses), André Gomes (Barcelona), Quaresma (Besiktas), and Gonçalo Guedes (Benfica) all have a good chance of earning a call.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. And for a more complete list of players who believes have a chance at the Seleção, check out our Player Pool.


4 thoughts on “How Will Portugal Move Forward?

  1. Your picking Porto’s Silva based on his off season. How in the world did you miss Bruma, who has scored 7 or 8 goals, so far this offseason?

    • I picked Silva mainly because of a lack of true strikers in the team. Additionally, his performances for every youth level for Portugal have been superb, and all signs point toward him having a truly breakout season. I did miss Bruma, although I personally would still include Gelson Martins over him. You’re right that Bruma had a wonderful pre-season, but last season, he didn’t set the world alight with his play. I think he definitely has a chance, but he’s still an outsider as of now.

  2. How do you choose Nelson Semedo over Joao Cancelo who was fantastic for Valencia last season in a far superior league. Semedo is good but Cancelo is much better IMHO.

    • Honestly, it was a toss-up between the two. Cancelo was effective last season, but in my opinion is not as much of complete player as Semedo. One of the chief criticisms of Cancelo is his lack of defensive ability, which he tries to compensate for with his speed and technical ability. Semedo, while similar, I believe is more adept at both attack and defense. But like I said, it’s a toss-up, and having to choose between the two is a wonderful problem to have.

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