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EURO 2024 DDAY – MYEN
Gareth Bale
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Euro 2024: Portugal’s Final Cut is so Sharp

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2016 European Champions Portugal head to Euro 2024 with dreams of winning back the crown they surrendered four years ago, and if you take a look at Roberto Martinez’s squad, they have more than a decent chance.

Last week, the head coach made his final cut and named his 26-man squad which is dripping with quality, and the players who didn’t quite make it have serious talent too.

The Euro 2024 betting odds rate the Selecao as fifth favourites to win the tournament and in a Group F also comprising Georgia, Turkey, and the Czech Republic Martinez’s team should have a comfortable path through to the knockout phase.

The team will be led by the 39-year old legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be keen to play a big part in Germany, having been dropped by former manager Fernando Santos during the Qatar World Cup. This will be CR7’s sixth European Championships, and he will be backed by some experienced heads in the Portuguese ranks.

Porto’s centre-back Pepe has reached the grand old age of 41, but he is still a formidable defender with a crunching tackle, and Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes will be another key man in Ronaldo’s senior group.

Bruno Fernandes is optimistic with Portugal's chances in winning the Euro 2024
Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes battles Croatia’s Josip Stanisic for possession in a friendly at Jamor Stadium, Oeiras

Manchester City’s mercurial midfielder Bernardo Silva is in his prime and will add to his 89 caps, while his teammate Ruben Dias will marshal the defence alongside Pepe. And it will be interesting to see whether Martinez starts up front with Ronaldo or PSG’s Goncalo Ramos, who excelled at the 2022 World Cup or both.     

In a brilliantly balanced group, the younger faces of PSG’s Nuno Mendez, Milan’s Rafael Leao, and Wolves’ wide-man Pedro Neto will get plenty of game time too.           

Martinez will take a last look at his squad when they meet the Republic of Ireland in a friendly warm-up on Tuesday. It’s a match we’ve previewed here at SBOTOP and expect to see most of the first eleven play some part, Ronaldo included.

And then it’s on to the Czech Republic when the real business starts for Portugal on the following Tuesday 18th


No place for Sanches or Guerreiro  

Under Martinez, the European Selecao has become a fluid, attacking team with a 4-3-3 formation which morphs into a 3-2-5 on the offence and forms two banks of four when out of possession and in defence.

He needs players who can adapt quickly and, in his relatively short time as Portugal head coach, he has worked closely with his stars and knows who he can rely on.

But there are a handful of players who can feel themselves a little unlucky not to make the cut.  

PSG’s Renato Sanches is a versatile player, a midfielder who can play a central role or out wide and can join the attack in a more advanced position. He’s been on loan at Roma this season but with limited game time, Sanches has fallen down the pecking order.

He has shown great promise and ability in his 32 internationals and at 26, he still has time on his side but the main man in midfield, Bruno Fernandes is backed up by Manchester City star Matheus Nunes and Martinez has some strong players in that department.     

Bayern Munich’s attacking wing-back Raphael Guerreiro has missed out too while PSG’s young left-back Nuno Mendes has got the nod. Portugal are blessed in this department too as Barcelona star Joao Cancelo can cover either flank as can Diogo Dalot, who has enjoyed a superb season at Manchester United.

Sporting Lisbon’s creative midfielder Pedro Goncalves has impressive stats. The 25-year-old has scored 57 goals in 124 games for the Portuguese giants, but it will always be hard to dislodge the excellent Bernardo Silva, and Barcelona’s Joao Felix as well as PSG’s Vitinha are also in the picture.    

Defencive midfielder William Carvalho has had a brilliant career with Portugal and at Real Betis and, at 32, he still has plenty to offer. His combative style and brilliant positional play has often helped the Selecao’s flair players to find more space.

But Carvalho will sit this one out and Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves will operate in the midfield role just in front of the defence.     

This is one of the best squads in world football, and the 26 who have made the cut have a real chance of going all the way. If they do their main man could challenge for the Golden Boot, and if CR7 does finish as top scorer, he will grab the Euro 2024 news headlines with both hands.


 

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