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War & Football 2010: Portugal

Cristiano RonaldoOperation Estadio Cristiano Ronaldo

The General:

This is Carlos Queiroz’s second term as head coach of Portugal and the first time around didn’t end pretty after a two year stint that saw the powerhouse miss out on Euro 1992 and the 1994 World Cup.  But the second time might be the charm for Alex Ferguson’s right hand man at Old Trafford.  After all there was no Ronaldo on the team the first time around either.  Queiroz took over the reins following a disappointing performance in Euro 2008.

The Plan of Attack:

Portugal is yet another team that is a fan of the offensive minded formation the 4-3-3 and Portugal’s plan of attack using the formation is about as straight forward as anyone elses.  Four back line defenders, three midfielders, a left and right wing and a striker in the middle.  Ronaldo is expected to play out on the right wing.

The Key Troops:

Cristiano Ronaldo is the key man and by ESPN’s account the second best player playing in the event this summer.  However Ronaldo didn’t score a single goal in seven WCQ appearances this fall and the star suffered an injury and Portugal qualified winning the last two matches without their captain.  Deco is the star of the midfield, Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho are the key men on the back line, and Ronaldo will likely be joined by Simao and Liedson up top.   

The Mission:

Portugal made a great run last Cup in 2006 Germany and the squad reached the finals of Euro 2004, but when it comes to winning international trophies Ronaldo’s side has been much less successful then his league career.  Still when you have a player of his caliber it is hard not to list them as one of the best eight, so this could be the summer that Portugal breaks the curse.  A challenging group and lack of an outstanding #2 scorer will make it a tough road to the finals though.

Potential Duds:

Portugal lacks a standout keeper in Arsenal man Eduardo and the squad also played pretty mediocre this WCQ even when Ronaldo was featured in the lineup.  I think their overall squad was stronger last Cup although Ronaldo may be hitting his prime right about now too.  Still zero goals in the WCQ and mediocre results doesn’t exactly scream World Cup champs, but it is a brief tournament and you never know.  Portugal needs to escape the Ivory Coast before they can begin those talks though.   

Final War Movie Rank:

With a world renowned superstar that dates celebrities and toasts transfer deals with Paris Hilton, I think the war film title Aces High is fitting for the team that has a iconic figure that shadows the rest of the squad, but Ronaldo will quickly find himself In Harm’s Way in what is considered the Death Group if he shows mediocre form like he did in the WCQ.  The man has been known to step it up when the spotlight is shining brightest though. 

Creative Commons License photo credit: Paolo Camera