Who should make the Portuguese team for Euro 2012: Goalkeepers


As is the case before any major tournament, a number of players are vying for a limited amount of spots for their respective national teams. The Portuguese team is no different. Many Portuguese players are enjoying stellar seasons for their clubs, and are certainly hoping for a call to represent their country at this summer’s Euro 2012. We’ll break down these candidates position-by-position, in an effort to predict how Paulo Bento will choose the final squad. First up is the goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers

Definites: Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Maybes: Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (CFR Cluj), Quim (Braga)

Outsiders: Ricardo (Vitoria Setubal), Hugo Ventura (Olhanense), Daniel Fernandes (Twente)

 

The goalkeeping position is rarely a problem for the Portuguese team. There has always seemed to be a strong goalkeeper at the start of every major tournament. For the 2002 World Cup, Vitor Baia was the undisputed choice. For Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup, and Euro 2008, Ricardo was between the sticks, and for the 2010 World Cup, Eduardo was first-choice. These keepers certainly met all expectations, and have established the fact that the goalkeeping position is consistently one of the strongest on the Portuguese team.

This time around, Rui Patricio is our man. A major part of Sporting’s success in the Europa League this season is down to his heroics in goal. It’s not just for Sporting, however. Patricio has emulated his club form on a national stage for Portugal. Our former stalwart is Eduardo. Arguably just as talented as before, a lack of playing time has been Eduardo’s main problem. After lackluster performances last season for Genoa, Eduardo was shipped off to Benfica for a season-long loan. Unable to dislodge Artur Moraes as first choice, Eduardo has been warming the bench ever since joining the club. Although his playing time has been scarce, his proven ability in the past will most likely win him a place on the team at Euro 2012. Another goalkeeper that has been loaned this season is Beto. Beto was the standout performer in the 2008-2009 season for newly-promoted Leixoes. His performances caught the eye of Porto, who snapped him up for a nominal fee. Despite possessing proven talent, Beto has never earned a starting spot over first-choice Helton. This season, in search for regular playing time, Beto was loaned to Romanian side CFR Cluj. Since then, he has played regularly, and a call-up to Euro 2012 may not be too unrealistic. Braga has continued to establish itself as one of Portugal’s top teams, and right at the heart of it all is Quim. Formerly the undisputed first-choice at Benfica, and even earlier at Braga, Quim has played a pivotal role in Braga’s surge to third-place this season. Although he has amassed 32 caps for the Seleccao, he has only appeared once at a major tournament. His performances this season show that he still has it, even at 36, but will that be enough for Paulo Bento? The outsiders looking in at a spot at Euro 2012 with Portugal are Daniel Fernandes, Ricardo, and Hugo Ventura. None of the three have appeared very much, if at all for Twente, Vitoria Setubal, and Olhanense respectively, and a spot on the Portuguese bus to Euro 2012 looks unlikely.

 

Probable bus-riders: Rui Patricio, Eduardo, Beto

 

Name

Club

Age

League Apps

Cup

Apps

Continental

Apps

Total

Apps

Rui Patricio Sporting

24

25

5

12

42

Eduardo Benfica

29

0

8

0

8

Beto Cluj

29

21

0

0

21

Quim Braga

36

26

2

10

38

Ricardo Setubal

36

3

3

0

6

Daniel Fernandes Twente

28

0

0

0

0

Hugo Ventura Olhanense

24

0

0

0

0

Portugal and Poland Play to Stalemate


Poland 0-0 Portugal

The Portuguese National Team was forced to rue missed chances as they tied Poland 0-0 in a friendly match on Wednesday. Though the team created chances, they failed to capitalize, and a poor second half resigned the team to a draw.

Paulo Bento fielded a strong Portuguese side, with Hugo Almeida being preferred to Helder Postiga in the striker position. The game started off well, with the midfield passing the ball around well, and generally dictating the flow of the game. The first presentable chance fell to Nani, who latched on to a smart header from Raul Meireles, and half volleyed towards the Polish goal. Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny punched the ball to safety, and Portugal’s first chance was spurned. Nani was at the end of the next chance, also. After latching onto a beautiful cross-field pass, Nani controlled the ball and easily slipped past two markers, juked-out another defender, and shot at the near post. Once again, the Polish goalkeeper was on hand to clear away the danger. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani had further shots either saved or missed, as Portugal entered the half on a good note.

The second half, however, was a much different story. Poland seized possession and created numerous chances, and the flow of the match was decidedly one-way. The deadlock could have been broken any number of times, had it not been for the efforts of Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal. His excellent saves played a huge part in keeping Poland at bay in the second half of play. The only event of not from the Portuguese team was the debut of Nelson Oliveira, who replaced Nani for the final ten minutes of play.

Patricio, Joao Pereira, Pepe (Rolando), Bruno Alves, Coentrao (Nelson), Veloso, Moutinho (Manuel Fernandes), Meireles, Nani (Nelson Oliveira), Ronaldo (Quaremsa), Almeida (Postiga)

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Portugal Dismantle Bosnia


Portugal 6-2 Bosnia

Portugal defeated Bosnia by a thrilling scoreline of 6-2 to book their place in Euro 2012. Ronaldo was the star of the show, recording a brace, while Helder Postiga also scored twice. Nani added a spectacular long-ranger, and Miguel Veloso scored his second-ever goal for the Seleccao with a sumptuous free-kick. Portugal were too hot for Bosnia to handle, and while the visitors did make life uncomfortable at times for the Seleccao, Portugal always looked the clear winners.

The game started off almost spectacularly after Raul Meireles failed to finish off a rebound from a Ronaldo shot. That was quickly forgotten when Ronaldo opened the scoring by rifling in a spectacular free kick: his third during Paulo Bento’s reign so far. The team the doubled their lead soon after. Raul Meireles’ simple ball found Nani in quite a bit of room. The winger turned, looked up, and unleashed a ferocious shot that gave the Bosnian goalkeeper no chance. With Portugal up 2-0, the team started to step off the accelerator a bit. They were punished accordingly, if harshly, when Fabio Coentrao handled in the box. The referee awarded a penalty, which Misimovic slotted home cool-as-you-like past Rui Patricio. That was the last event of note that occurred in the first half. The two teams went into their respective locker rooms with the score at 2-1 in Portugal’s favor.

Soon after the break, Portugal were at it again. This time, however, ended in a goal. Some quick thinking from Joao Moutinho put Ronaldo through on goal. The captain rounded the keeper and finished emphatically with his left foot. Once again, with a two-goal cushion, Portugal eased off the pedal. They were once again punished when some lax defending from the team gave Spahic the simplest of finishes. With the scoreline once again within one goal, the Seleccao pushed for more breathing room. They were rewarded on 72 minutes, when a quick pass from substitute Ruben Micael opened up a shot from Helder Postiga, who made no mistakes with his left footed shot, which he buried in the bottom corner. With breathing room restored, Portugal still continued to press for another goal. Just minutes later, the team won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Miguel Veloso struck the ball, which dipped over the wall and into the empty net. The goalkeeper was bamboozled. That goal was only Veloso’s second goal for the National team; the first coming late in 2009 against Malta. The team wasn’t done just yet, however. Almost immediately, Fabio Coentrao was found on the left flank. He surged forward and somehow crossed the ball at the last moment. Helder Postiga was on hand to head the ball home to make the final score 6-2 Portugal and seal their place in next summer’s Euro 2012.

Man-of-the-match: Ronaldo

Crutch-of-the-match: Joao Pereira

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Fabio Coentrao, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Raul Meireles(Ruben Micael), Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Ronaldo, Nani(Quaresma), Helder Postiga(Carlos Martins)

Queiroz Releases 24-man Squad


Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz released a 24-man squad for next month’s World Cup. Due to Pepe’s questionable fitness, Queiroz released a 24-man list instead of the official 23-man list, so that if Pepe is deemed unfit, he can drop him, or if Pepe turns out to be ready, Ze Castro or Ricardo Costa can be dropped. Surprise inclusions are Beto, Daniel Fernandes, Ze Castro, and Ricardo Costa. Moutinho was not included in the squad most likely due to his mediocre season.

Here’s the list:

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Braga), Beto (FC Porto) Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis)

Defenders: Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Miguel (Valencia), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Bruno Alves (FC Porto), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Rolando (FC Porto), Pepe (Real Madrid), Duda (Malaga) Ze Castro (Deportivo)

Midfielders: Tiago (Atletico Madrid), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (FC Porto), Miguel Veloso (Sporting), Pedro Mendes (Sporting), Danny (Zenit St Peterburg)

Wingers/Forwards: Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid), Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Liedson (Sporting), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen)

Queiroz also released a list of 6 reserves, just in case any of the players in the squad of 23 get injured. Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Amorim, Manuel Fernandes, Eliseu and Makukula all have an outside chance of playing in the World Cup after being included in this list.