PREVIEW: Get to know UEFA Euro Cup 2016 winners Portugal
Though Portugal boasts one of the best players of the sport in Cristiano Ronaldo, the Selection of the Quinas shocked the world when they won the UEFA Euro Cup in 2016. Fast forward two years and the European Champions will be looking to emulate a similar feat in Russia.
Now just months before the World Cup, African Cup of Nations 2017 finalists Egypt will be taking on the best of Europe in a preparatory friendly. KingFut‘s Sina Isaac spoke to journalist Jan Hagen about the Portuguese squad and gives a detailed look at the players in contention to play against the Pharaohs.
Sina Isaac: What are your expectations from the friendly with Egypt?
Jan Hagen: As Fernando Santos put it himself, Portugal have chosen pre-World Cup friendlies against opposition that is similar to what they’ll face during the group stage at the World Cup. This was something A Seleção did ahead of the 2016 Euros as well, and although it culminated in three group stage draws, it did eventually help Portugal go all the way, claiming that long-awaited European Champion title.
According to the Portugal boss, facing African competition like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria before the World Cup will help Portugal prepare for the Morocco and Iran games.
SI: Who you think will have the biggest chance of playing?
JH: At today’s training session (Tuesday) Fernando Santos drilled this line-up: Cédric, José Fonte, Rolando, Raphaël Guerreiro – Rúben Neves – João Mário, João Moutinho, Bernardo Silva – André Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo. Rui Patrício is likely to be the man between the sticks.
SI: Which players have the most to gain from the friendly in hopes of playing at the World Cup?
JH: Although I think he’s almost certain of a spot on the plane to Russia, Cédric do have heavy competition for that right-back spot. Rolando, who has been away from the national team for the last four years, will hope to establish himself as a viable option for the World Cup squad as Portugal lack both depth and quality at centre-back. Bruno Fernandes and Manuel Fernandes are probably fighting for the remaining midfield slot, while Rúben Neves, in the absence of both William and Danilo, will have the chance to impress in the number six role during Portugal’s two upcoming friendlies against Egypt and the Netherlands.
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