“It’s a team that would beat any other, even the great Brazil team of 1982!”

That was the conclusion arrived at by one of Portugal’s foremost football journalists Rui Malheiro and his colleague and host of the excellent anatomiadabola podcast, Rui Silva, after selecting a Portugal team made up of the best Luso players from the last 30 years. 

The two Rui’s selected two options in each position in a 4-3-3 of the finest players to don the Seleção shirt since 1990, as well as the starting XI. 

 

We can argue for hours on end about the choices but one thing is unanimous: this side would be a match for any team in the modern era of the game, and exemplifies the incredible quality of footballers Portugal continues to produce, year after year.

That said, given the results the Seleção have achieved in the timespan under analysis, it is little surprise the team is stacked with such exceptional talent. The famed Golden Generation, led by standard-bearers Luís Figo and Rui Costa, may have ultimately failed to translate their remarkable footballing abilities into trophies in senior football, but it paved the way for what has undoubtedly been a golden era for Portuguese football in terms of its national team.

Since the turn of the millennium, Portugal has qualified for every European Championship and World Cup. Previously, the Seleção only made it to tournaments sporadically, failing to qualify for 22 out of 26 World Cups and European Championships prior to 2000. What’s more, Portugal have competed strongly at most of these tournaments, reaching the semi-final or better five times and culminating in a first trophy at Euro 2016.

It will also be interesting to revisit the team in just two years’ time, as Portugal prepare for two major tournaments, first defending their European Championship crown five months from now, followed up by the 2022 World Cup. Check out a sportsbook like Casumo for the latest odds when the time comes for Portugal’s players to shine on the big stage as they try and retain the European Championship title in next summer’s tournament.

More glory at the upcoming Euro or the next World Cup may force a rethink to add current players to the “best of the best” Portugal have produced in recent decades.

Portugal dream team 1990-2020

 

 

Full 22-man squad (starting option in bold, deputy in brackets)

Goalkeepers: Vítor Baía (Rui Patrício)

Defenders: Miguel (José Bosingwa), Ricardo Carvalho (Pepe), Fernando Couto (Jorge Andrade), Fábio Coentrão (Raphaël Guerreiro)

Midfielders: Paulo Sousa (Costinha), Deco (Maniche), Rui Costa (Pedro Barbosa)

Forwards: Paulo Futre (João Pinto), Luís Figo (João Félix), Cristiano Ronaldo (Nuno Gomes)

 

Coach: Fernando Santos (António Oliveira)

 

Pride of Portugal

Another interesting facet of this exercise is to compare the line-up with hypothetical similar teams from other nations. Can any other country boast such an array of top talent across the pitch? Possibly only the traditional football powerhouses such as Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Germany and Spain would come close. 

Or to put it another way, how many of the Portugal 1990-2020 dream team would be selected in a similar team for all players regardless of nationality? In other words, an XI made up of the greatest players over the last 30 years. Cristiano Ronaldo is a lock, but it would be far from outrageous to consider picking any of the Portuguese midfielders/forwards shown above in such a multi-national team. 

For a country of 11 million people, that is not bad going when you take into account we are talking about the world’s most popular and most played sport. 

 

Do you agree with the 30-year selection of the Seleção? Please comment below.

 

 

Comments (33)

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I agree for the most part. I don’t think joao Felix has done anything worthy of being on this list above nani. Nani accomplished more at Man U compared to Felix at Atletico and it’s not even close. This biased selection of players is just a...

I agree for the most part. I don’t think joao Felix has done anything worthy of being on this list above nani. Nani accomplished more at Man U compared to Felix at Atletico and it’s not even close. This biased selection of players is just a microcosm of the main problem with the FPF. Picking joao Felix to be on this team is exactly why trincao gets selected over Rafael Leao. I don’t want to get into that though.

I’d prefer Rui to be the starter over Baia and it would have been nice to squeeze in Moutinho somewhere but it’s tough because Deco would be the only person you’d remove and on his day Deco was miles better than moutinho. So it comes down to do you reward longevity and quality(moutinho) or pure ability(deco)? Coentrao over Raphael is a coin flip to me.

Pepe to start ALL DAY over Couto in my opinion and it’s not even close. Pepe is not only the best CB in Portuguese history but he’s one of the all time best CB period in the world. You don’t start for Real Madrid for over a decade and win everything possible there multiple times and then win the euros and not be considered one of the all time best players at your position. I’ll admit I’m not old enough to have watched couto play but I’d be willing to bet money that anybody who’s not an old Portuguese man would never put him above Pepe.

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I'm a Porto man and I love Baia, he's a club icon. But I would start Patricio over him. At Seleccao level, Rui P has been a bigger rock.

I agree with your FPF comment and the selection process. That said, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I...

I'm a Porto man and I love Baia, he's a club icon. But I would start Patricio over him. At Seleccao level, Rui P has been a bigger rock.

I agree with your FPF comment and the selection process. That said, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I would start Nuno Valente at LB. Unlike both Coentrao and Rapha, he's a natural left back and was a beast in defense.

If you especially want to have Figo, Ronaldo, Sousa and Deco on the pitch, you need a water tight defense, and for my money Valente is the best defensive LB we've ever had.

I love Fernando Couto but I agree Pepe, along with Ricardo Carvalho, is on the top 10 CB of all time discussion.

It's a back line of Nuno Valente, Pepe, Carvalho and Miguel for me.

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I forgot to mention just how much nani contributed for Portugal too but I don’t think I need to remind anybody. Nani was almost an automatic starter for 10 years and a HUGE reason why we qualified for all the euros and world cups plus he won the...

I forgot to mention just how much nani contributed for Portugal too but I don’t think I need to remind anybody. Nani was almost an automatic starter for 10 years and a HUGE reason why we qualified for all the euros and world cups plus he won the euros. Just ask yourself this question, what in the world has Joao Felix EVER EVER done to be on this list? Then ask yourself why I have some internal questions about the politics in the FPF, I’d love more than anything to sit down with these old Portuguese guys and pick their brains apart.

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The guys who won the Euro should have top priority for any position up for debate.
The debate between Nani and Felix is the exception and an interesting one. Who would I rather have on their best day? Felix. But, if we're talking cv (That's...

The guys who won the Euro should have top priority for any position up for debate.
The debate between Nani and Felix is the exception and an interesting one. Who would I rather have on their best day? Felix. But, if we're talking cv (That's short for resume for all you construction guys with your cigarettes dangling from your mouths.): Nani.

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Ignoring your little passive aggressive tantrum there Daniel (I have several friends in construction who despite their lack of formal education, have much better manners than you), it's not even a question between Felix and Nani.

Nani was an...

Ignoring your little passive aggressive tantrum there Daniel (I have several friends in construction who despite their lack of formal education, have much better manners than you), it's not even a question between Felix and Nani.

Nani was an underperformer at club level, but on the Seleccao, he was nearly unstoppable. He played like a god. Joao Felix has so far been a flop.on the national team and definitely overhyped at Atletico. He has yet to show anything near that transfer fee in ability.

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I got you and was waiting for your reply.
You're a troll's wet dream.

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I think it's very commendable of you to admit you still soil yourself at night. They always say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Although if anything, I think it just exposes your pre-teen status.

Nani at Sporting was excellent,...

I think it's very commendable of you to admit you still soil yourself at night. They always say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Although if anything, I think it just exposes your pre-teen status.

Nani at Sporting was excellent, at Man United was inconsistent. It's likely the Ronaldo comparisons damaged him before he could live up to his potential.

He wasn't perfect for the Seleccao in his early years, but he matured into one of the team's best performers when necessary. I don't recall "being his loudest critic", but thanks for being concerned about my opinions and replies, it's nice to know you hold my input in such high esteem and "wait for me to reply". Good to know I'm always on your mind.

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I hearted all your comments Christopher. Your motherly validation is complete for the week. Don't forget your lunchbox and sippy cup.

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You're welcome ?

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Btw, all I ever remembered of Nani were the negative comments on here about how he plays dumb, holds on to the ball too long, and plays worse with Ronaldo. How times have changed! This must be what they mean by, sausade. "He played like a god,"...

Btw, all I ever remembered of Nani were the negative comments on here about how he plays dumb, holds on to the ball too long, and plays worse with Ronaldo. How times have changed! This must be what they mean by, sausade. "He played like a god," stated Christopher. You were his loudest critic, lol.
He redeemed himself at the Euro but most still credited Santos, Ronaldo, and Pepe for the win. That wasn't Pepe puke either, Tom. It looked more like dribble to me. Yet he did work his butt off.

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@Chris haha CV stands for resume. Totally agree with your take on any debatable positions should favor euro winners.

I think the problem you run into when you make these lists is what’s the criteria? If it’s on their best day well then damn...

@Chris haha CV stands for resume. Totally agree with your take on any debatable positions should favor euro winners.

I think the problem you run into when you make these lists is what’s the criteria? If it’s on their best day well then damn give me quaresma circa 2005-2008. I’d take his “best day” in Porto over Felix or nani. Since quaresma cant be the right answer, I think what we have to look for is longevity AND pure ability as well. Some people might not remember but I literally watched hundreds of Man United games during Ronaldo’s and Nani’s time there. Their were dozens of games where Nani was simply unplayable and scored some worldly goals. He played in two champions league finals, won a champions league and won league titles and other various trophies. That’s just at club level, the amount of quality he offered to Portugal over 10 years should be rewarded. I’m not saying he’s Neymar over here but he was the best attacking option we had other than Ronaldo for 10 years.

Anyways, the point isn’t to compare Joao Felix career and Nani’s because their ages are different so it’s really not comparable. I just think you can’t pick Joao Felix for any list like this.

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I should've wrote potential instead of best day now that I looked back at it.
You're right though. What's the criteria? Longevity. Potential. Trophies. Goals/moments. The author must've figured we'd simply understand. Unless of course, it was...

I should've wrote potential instead of best day now that I looked back at it.
You're right though. What's the criteria? Longevity. Potential. Trophies. Goals/moments. The author must've figured we'd simply understand. Unless of course, it was meant to stir up controversy as all all time lists do.

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Not sure what Sousa has done to be included, great at club level but his contribution for the national team doesn't merit his inclusion

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Felix being anywhere on this list is nothing short of a joke. Just ridiculous. Nani (a Champions League and Euro cup winner) gets left out for some who’s only accomplishment is a measly Portuguese league title. Give me a break.

Pepe not being a...

Felix being anywhere on this list is nothing short of a joke. Just ridiculous. Nani (a Champions League and Euro cup winner) gets left out for some who’s only accomplishment is a measly Portuguese league title. Give me a break.

Pepe not being a starter is also absurd. He’s probably our best CB ever.

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I wannna know who chose this line up and slap him. Patricio and Ricardo over Baia. Guerreiro over coentrao. I mean this line up is stupid. How did u not include Pepe??? There’s so much more that I can say but I’m done.

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I have always respected portugal’s national teams. They’ve always been known to be able to compete with the world’s big boys, and for a country with maybe 12 million citizens, I consider that impressive as hell. Portugal is on par with the...

I have always respected portugal’s national teams. They’ve always been known to be able to compete with the world’s big boys, and for a country with maybe 12 million citizens, I consider that impressive as hell. Portugal is on par with the netherlands in the sense that they both have excellent second-tier leagues possessing former european champions such as ajax, porto and benfica. The only reason I say second-tier is because of how clubs like these are often raided by other richer clubs like real madrid and manchester united. Regardless, portugal and the netherlands have had national teams that I equally respected. Unfortunately, both of these teams have had players who in my opinion have been overlooked and underrated. That’s why when I read these all-time lists, i can usually agree with most of what i am reading, but I feel the integrity of these lists suffers some. The integrity of this list suffers a bit because it’s missing some important and influential players. I’d like to know why sergio conceicao, pauleta, nani and ricardo quaresma aren’t on there, at all. Quaresma and nani actually won portugal’s only senior trophy, but that argument should be obvious to real football fans. Pauleta was an excellent striker, so again, not sure why no mention of him either. Anyone who really remembers sergio conceicao should also be asking about his absence on this list. Just like figo and rui costa, he played for some top clubs at the same extremely competitive time in football. He was a star performer for lazio, parma and inter. More importantly, he was another very reliable and skilled midfielder for portugal, again, just like figo and rui costa. In fact, I don’t remember figo or rui costa scoring any hat-tricks against germany like conceicao did at euro 2000. Sergio conceicao scored 3 goals against the reigning european champions at the time and he’s not even on the bench for this? Another player worth mentioning is joao pinto. He was very underrated as well, but there was that incident at the 2002 world cup..
I will conclude by saying that this list isn’t terrible, but i cannot condone this list without a few adjustments.

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Great player we had/have, We have a lack of a top striker(9) but taking in account that CR holds almost every single record in the world I would have him there in paper but never in real life. He is a 7 no doubt. Even being a Benfica supporter I...

Great player we had/have, We have a lack of a top striker(9) but taking in account that CR holds almost every single record in the world I would have him there in paper but never in real life. He is a 7 no doubt. Even being a Benfica supporter I have to agree with my Porto friends. Felix is not even close to be mentioned among our top 10 player in his position, maybe in the future. Agree with the debate about Pepe, he has to be there. Couto/B.Alves/Costa they were all great players but Pepe is Pepe.
So my start 11 would be like this( in paper!! real life I would have to compromise some talent for tactical elements)
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício ( Ricardo, had more impact than Victor in the national team)

Defenders: Miguel(José Bosingwa), Ricardo Carvalho( Fernando Couto), PEPE( B.Alves), Fábio Coentrão(Raphaël Guerreiro)

Midfielders: Moutinho( Paulo Sousa), Deco( Maniche), Rui Costa( Tiago)

Forwards: Paulo Futre( R.Quaresma, we are talking about players at their best, RQ would fit in any team at his peak at Porto), Luís Figo (Nani, he has to be there. Great euros, very good in the national team), Cristiano Ronaldo (João Pinto)

Ambassador: F.Chalana


Coach: Fernando Santos ( Scolari, changed our love for the national team, gave us patriotism)

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I LOVE THIS LINEUP! The RB selection will change in the coming years though. Possibly both men will be replaced by the three or four we have right now.

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Agree and Cancelo, B.Silva, B.Fernandes might in the future be contenders to the best 23. Good years to come we just have to find a couple of top players like Figo and Rui Costa. Like Cristiano will be impossible!

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João Félix? Estão a brincar é com a cara dos amantes do futebol, quem é esse boneco e o que é que ele fez por a seleção portuguesa? Isso sim é uma falta de respeito com grandes jogadores que passaram por a selecção como por exemplo, João...

João Félix? Estão a brincar é com a cara dos amantes do futebol, quem é esse boneco e o que é que ele fez por a seleção portuguesa? Isso sim é uma falta de respeito com grandes jogadores que passaram por a selecção como por exemplo, João Moutinho, Ricardo quaresma Bernardo Silva, ruben Neves e mais alguns... João Félix? ???? Foi a anedota da época essa escolha... Nem para a apanha bolas serve essa amostra de pessoa... ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️

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