“I didn’t think there were that many.” They added the sum to Fernando Santos, the Portuguese coach, and it turned out that there were eleven players on his list for the Eurocup who, like him, defend tightly. Eight of them (Rui Patricio, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, Cristiano Ronaldo, Moutinho, William Carvalho and Renato Sanches) won the final against France. “They said that it was a team of footballers who were back and it shows that it was not like that,” defends the Portuguese coach.
Veterans such as Nani, Quaresma or Eder, Saint-Denis’s hero, fall from that group, but everything indicates that Portugal has raised the level, especially if the payroll of footballers with an offensive vocation who now surround Cristiano Ronaldo is taken into account. , which was never so well accompanied.
The group is joined by Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva, who missed the last European Championship due to injury, both benchmarks in the two great Manchester teams. João Félix is not lacking and progressing footballers such as Diogo Jota, Gonçalo Guedes or former Sevilla player André Silva, second top scorer in the Bundesliga after Lewandowski and ahead of Haaland, gain importance after signing 27 goals in 31 games. Now Pedro Gonçalves “Pote” is added, a forward who spent two years in the Valencia youth squad and who has just been proclaimed top scorer in the Portuguese league with Sporting, who is already negotiating his transfer to Liverpool. There is no place for the Barcelona player Trincão, who is left out of the call, or for the former sportsman Pizzi, another regular in Santos’ plans.
Portugal looks shiny to face a difficult group because it awaits the rematch of the last final against France and two separate duels against Germany and Hungary, who will play on their land, in Munich and Budapest. And from his call it follows that he will seek the ball to dominate the game through it. Santos has barely called three centrals. Pepe and Ruben Dias, who has just been chosen as the best footballer in the last Premier League, will start; and José Fonte, the alternative. “There is more,” Santos clarifies, “because Danilo Pereira usually plays defense at PSG. And Carvalho and Palhinha can play there too ”.
Santos is ambitious. “We are the champions and we assume it. I start with the conviction that we aspire to everything ”. And he is upset at having to leave three players out of the call in each game: “I felt comfortable with a list of 23 and I understand the motivations for making it 26, so we took advantage of it, but leaving three pieces without calling in such a short tournament does not have the same handling that you can do in a league ”. The one who has the least doubts is about Cristiano Ronaldo: “He’s a machine.”
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyon), Rui Patrício (Wolverhampton) and Rui Silva (Granada).
Defenses: João Cancelo (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolverhampton), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting) and Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund).
Media: Danilo Pereira (PSG), João Palhinha (Sporting), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Moutinho (Wolverhampton), Renato Sanches (Lille), Sérgio Oliveira (Porto) and William Carvalho (Betis).
Forwards: Pedro Gonçalves “Pote” (Sporting), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), João Félix (Atlético de Madrid) and Rafa Silva (Benfica).