In Episode 43 of the Seleção Podcast, host Danny Pinto is joined by Zach Lowy, co-creator of Breaking the Lines, as they discuss the Portugal’s Euro 2020 squad and the chances of Fernando Santos’ men retaining their crown as European Champions.  

Danny and Zach also discuss Portugal’s UEFA U21 European Championship chances, as the young craques take on Spain in the semi-finals on Thursday 3 June on the back of an enthralling 5-3 quarter-final victory over Italy. 

Finally, Zach discusses many of the projects that he and BTL have either just completed or are about to debut, including:

  • a piece on “The Renaissance of Renato Sanches”
  • his “Corta Linhas” podcast, which covers Portuguese football
  • BTL’s upcoming EUROs magazine, previewing each country’s road to qualification and chances at the tournament

To listen to the podcast click on the play button below.

 

 

Related: Portugal U21s beat Italy 5-3 in extra time to reach semi-finals

Related: Portugal’s European Championship squad announced

 

Comments (14)

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Great podcast, guys!

France are rightfully considered the favorites, but I honestly think Portugal are a close second. I'm not sure why so many bookies have Portugal listed as 6th favorites behind the likes of Germany, Spain, and Belgium.

Engla...

Great podcast, guys!

France are rightfully considered the favorites, but I honestly think Portugal are a close second. I'm not sure why so many bookies have Portugal listed as 6th favorites behind the likes of Germany, Spain, and Belgium.

England have homefield advantage, which could prove vital should they make it to the final, but I'm not completely sold on Southgate as a manager and I'm not convinced that they are solid enough defensively to go all the way.

Italy, as Zach mentioned, are a side that has been flying under the radar of late, and while they're squad isn't as star-studded as some of the Italy teams of the past, they are perhaps the most consistent side in all of international football at the moment. I still like our chances against the Italians, but I honestly think they have a better shot of winning it than some of the other big names like Germany, Spain, and perhaps even Belgium.

This current Portugal side is quite possibly the strongest squad we've ever brought to an international tournament - it is certainly more talented than the team that won the whole thing five years ago.

We have a strong defensive backbone, an abundance of creativity from fullback, midfield, and up top, and we happen to have two of the most prolific goal-scorers in Europe this season with Ronaldo and Andre Silva. Fernando Santos has the raw material required to go all the way - no doubt about it, but I'm still not convinced that he has been able to successfully make the most out of the incredible talent that is at his disposal.

I hope he proves me wrong, but I just don't see us winning another Euro playing the same way we did in France. Sure, we were defensively solid for the most part and our fighting spirit was unmatched, but we also must admit that we rode our luck at times. We finished in third place after drawing all three games against very beatable opposition. We then beat Croatia in extra time, Poland in penalties, and then somehow managed to pull off a seemingly miraculous victory in Paris against the home nation without our star man.

Lightning isn't going to strike twice, guys. We can't expect to draw our way to another final.

I just fear that we will go out in a tight, nervy match in which we just fail to provide enough cutting edge in the final third as we did against Uruguay in the world cup.

Santos needs to get this team ticking offensively. He needs to get the best out of Bernardo and Fernandes in particular if we are going to successfully defend our title. 2 goals and a handful assists (if even) in 27 matches just isn't good enough for a guy who is supposed to be one of the best attacking midfielders in world football.

If Santos gets this team to play cohesive attacking football without sacrificing his trademark defensive solidity, I don't see any team stopping us. Let's see if he can pull it off.

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Jon, simple answer for Portugal only being 6th favourite is size.

England could be out of the tournament and still be considered favourites because the bookies need to make money and the English fans always bet on the national team as a rule. ....

Jon, simple answer for Portugal only being 6th favourite is size.

England could be out of the tournament and still be considered favourites because the bookies need to make money and the English fans always bet on the national team as a rule. .

Germany and France are similar; big populations and recognizable names in football (as nations), translate to a lot of German and French people betting on them, as well as footy casuals who recognize the "brand". Spain is living on the glory of the generation from 10 years ago as well as Madrid and Barca name recognition.

Unfortunately for Portugal, our biggest star is a bigger brand than the entire country, so no matter how good we are, we get less credit due to Ronny being big, and also only having 11 million peeps.

Regarding the actual possibilities;

France do not impress me, but they manage to get results. They definitely have what it takes to win this thing.

I agree that Germany and Spain are on a decline, and don't fancy either team.

Belgium is all talent but their manager is a guy who's biggest accomplishments came at Wigan. Martinez is not what I consider a top level manager.

Italy is underrated buy also not that impressive in my opinion.

I think Turkey will surprise a few people this tournament. They have some very good players playing in top clubs in England, France and Italy and are capable of making some waves.

Portugal, on paper, should win this thing. I was a big fan of Santos from 2015-2019. Lately though, I think he is our weakest link. He selected 3 CB's, 2 RB's who cannot defend and has had Palhinha and Danilo training as 4th CB in practice.

I don't think he has been able to get the most out of the team, and while that could change, I honestly feel like we will be watching another roller coaster Euro where we play down to the level of opponents, instead of smashing them as we are able to do.

I hope I am wrong and that Portugal go all the way and beat teams convincingly. Either way, I will be watching wearing my jersey and locked in. Cheers.

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For me it's a bit of a conundrum in terms of what to expect from the Selecao in this tournament. First of all, since this covid situation started, everything has become completely unpredictable and super competitive, and any result can happen in...

For me it's a bit of a conundrum in terms of what to expect from the Selecao in this tournament. First of all, since this covid situation started, everything has become completely unpredictable and super competitive, and any result can happen in any match at all, so it's very difficult to make predictions.

I agree with Jon that this is arguably the strongest squad we have ever brought to a major tournament, certainly in terms of depth across all positions. On paper, I don't think any other squad is stronger than us at this tournament, not even France (in fact I even think we have more depth than France in certain areas.)

But on the other hand, our group is probably the most difficult group we've ever been in a major tournament (not just in my generation, but ever!). We have had some difficult groups in other previous tournaments, such as at Euro 2000, but I don't think ever as tough as this on paper. Two away matches to start off with, and then only the world champions France in the final decisive match! I really think it's a situation where we could go all the way and win the whole thing again, or we could even crash out at the group stage. It's all possible I reckon!

The good thing about this tough group is that Portugal tend to play better when the opposition is more demanding. We've seen time and again that the Selecao are usually at their worst when they feel they can relax and not give 100% in a match. They will know this time that they simply need to give 100% in all 3 matches to make it out of such a tough group, and that's what gives me confidence. Hungary in the first match is a must win. We must go into the second match against Germany with confidence and believing in ourselves. I think they are currently riding on their name and their illustrious history and achievements in the game, but in reality it's a nothing special new generation of German players. We have better players than them in most areas right now and we need to go for all 3 points in that match. But nevertheless they are still the Germans and they tend to find a way of getting positive results, so I won't be taking anything for granted in terms of the result of that match. France are clearly the most difficult opponents in the final match. But we have shown quite recently in the nations league that we can go toe to toe with them. So it's all very interesting and anything could happen in this group.

I agree with the other posters here that much will depend on Fernando Santos' approach. He has to be more proactive in his tactics and get the best out of the attacking quality we have. I think if he tries to be too pragmatic and conservative as he was back in 2016, we run the risk of crashing out in the group stage. With this amazing amount of talent at his disposal, he needs to just go for it! If we do go for it and give 100% and play to win at all times, we can win this whole thing again, we really have the squad to.

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Portugal have a solid team and definitely have a fighters chance just like in 2016 but I'm sorry France are much better on paper then Portugal. There isnt more then one or two players in Portugals 11 I would take over Frances. And No Ronaldo is...

Portugal have a solid team and definitely have a fighters chance just like in 2016 but I'm sorry France are much better on paper then Portugal. There isnt more then one or two players in Portugals 11 I would take over Frances. And No Ronaldo is not one of them as I would much rather have Benzema still in his prime over a 37 year old Ronaldo as my number 9. Im pulling for Portugal as much as the next guy on here but im also not going to let my bias cloud my judgement. The odds are fair imo. Portugal have brought a group of misfits imo. 2016 the team was built perfectly for the style they played. Lots of scrappy hard workers and a few magic men like Ronaldo, Nani and quaresma who came up with magic when we needed it and we defended and got the luck we needed. Everyone talks about the u21 but they play perfectly to there strengths which is why they look better then they are. They cant defend to save there lives so they play a possession style which protects there weak defense because there midfielders are all technically gifted and rarely give the ball away cheaply. Best way to protect a weak defense is to limit the chances the other team gets. Now in regards to this team Santos has no identity this year. He has brought more offensively gifted talents then maybe ever in portugals history however they are risk taking talents and not the possession type talents like u21 team possesses. Basically you have guys like Ronaldo, Bruno, Felix who love taking chances with risky passes and tricks but unfortunately this year we have too many of those types and very weak defending particularly in the wingbacks and aging cbs who most likely wont be able to keep up with all the counter attacks they will receive from all the errant passes Im expecting from Bruno and our other attacking options. Add in the fact Bruno, Felix, Ronaldo are extremely lazy when they do lose the ball and thats a hard situation. I think portugal can win but contrary to what most people want to see I think the time for the beatiful attacking team lineup should wait until the u21 come of age and they change coaches. This year I think leaving felix and fernandes on the bench unless you chasing the game and playing the 2016 style while desperately trying to send help to Cancelo on the right side who cant defend to save his life and then hoping Jota or Ronaldo can get us a goal is our best best again this year.

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Id love just 5 min in the dressing room with them,9n paper lile you said guys they are amazing ?, but i wish we had the likes of pep to mold them as a team,too many stars im not sure there is enough hard work ethic between the team,and the team...

Id love just 5 min in the dressing room with them,9n paper lile you said guys they are amazing ?, but i wish we had the likes of pep to mold them as a team,too many stars im not sure there is enough hard work ethic between the team,and the team has to stop the tactics of passing to ronaldo once there clear on goal...

i remember crying my eyes out at euro 96 when karl poborskie ended us,i rem 2000 when thr ref gave the french the peno i rem the best portugal side at 2002 that disnt performed,2004 bad luck 06 robbed...and again amazing 2010 and 2012 love portugal forcaaaa...

But they need to play as a team bond as team pass tactic run back and stop fucking falling 9ver bruno goes down so easy ffs its a shame,im confident we can win it but we must over come the mighty big germans first...

if we loose i hope we loose in style forcaaa

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The only thing Pep "molds" is his cheque-book. If that clown ever managed at the international level he would immediately be exposed for the choke artist fraud he is.

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Who do you think should be Portugal manager when Fernando Santos leaves the team?

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Well Guilherme, that is a difficult question to answer for a few reasons. The international game is very limited in terms of resources and what you have to work with.

A "manager" like Pep who is used to riding the coattails of his players and...

Well Guilherme, that is a difficult question to answer for a few reasons. The international game is very limited in terms of resources and what you have to work with.

A "manager" like Pep who is used to riding the coattails of his players and prior managers would never do well because he isn't talented enough to guide a national team with all of the timing and player availability issues.

Add to that that he chokes in tournaments, I would not want someone like him or Jorge Jesus.

Unai Emery is not a good manager for leagues, but I can't think of a better manager with a better record in European tournaments.

Add to that that the big money is at club football level, you're left with limited options.

I would definitely stick with a Portuguese manager because I think we have some of the best in the world.

So, starting there, I like Leonardo Jardim, Vitor Pereira and maybe Abel. They have all proven very astute in terms of tactics (with VP and Jardim two of the best tactician in the game, IMO).

The next tier I would look at guys like Sergio Conceicao and Ruben Amorim. Both very good man-managers who create a deep set of belief in the squad. Conceicao is not my favourite in terms of tactics, I think Amorim is a bit more cutting edge on that sense, but he's a one hit wonder until further notice.

I think guys like Marco Silva and Pedro Martins are also good considerations. Guys who have done well at lesser leagues but who's teams play good footy.

Sorry for the long answer, but you did ask. And you? What's your take?

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I agree with you Chris, that it is certainly a very hard choice. But seeing this Portugal vs Spain match, I can't help but to think about that. I mean, think about all the games we had under Santos in big tournaments. In the Group Stages we have...

I agree with you Chris, that it is certainly a very hard choice. But seeing this Portugal vs Spain match, I can't help but to think about that. I mean, think about all the games we had under Santos in big tournaments. In the Group Stages we have only won 1 match.
Portugal 1 vs 1 Iceland
Portugal 0 vs 0 Austria
Hungary 3 vs 3 Portugal

Portugal 3 vs 3 Spain
Portugal 1 vs 0 Morocco
Iran 1 vs 1 Portugal

In the knock-out stages, we have only won 1 game in 90 minutes against Wales. With the amount of talent he has, this is catastrophic. It was enough to win in 2016, but only under special circumstances.

I think Guardiola could be a good choice in terms of training. Jorge Jesus could be another good choice wither. They may take time to introduce their game, but you would see, at least, a gaming plan and idea. Having this in mind, Emery would definitely be a good choice.

Leonardo Jardim and maybe Abel would be good options for the squad. But seriously, Vitor Pereira is a defensive-minded coach as well. Sérgio Conceição would be a terrible option, he has a terrible temper and Ruben Amorim still has a name to make for himself, the same goes for Pedro Martins and Marco Silva who still need to prove themselves.

You just didn't talk about Paulo Fonseca who is a very good coach, but betrayed at Roma. I like his playing style.

So, my take would be between: Guardiola, Klopp, Jorge Jesus, Paulo Fonseca, Leonardo Jardim or even Rui Jorge.

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My friend, we will never agree on Pep. I cannot think of a more overrated manager in history.

Jesus I hate because of his big ego, but I have to give you credit and admit, he is very good at developing players. But... He's a choke artist in...

My friend, we will never agree on Pep. I cannot think of a more overrated manager in history.

Jesus I hate because of his big ego, but I have to give you credit and admit, he is very good at developing players. But... He's a choke artist in tournaments so I wouldn't pick him.

I like Klopp, but he'd never manage Portugal or probably a national team.

A lot of folks do the same with VP, but I disagree. I think he has the right blend of defense and offence. Consider the stats:

2 years at Porto, 1 undefeated season, over 2 seasons, 1 loss, 140 goals scored in 60 league games. I like the guy a lot.

I agree Conceicao is a loose canon but the flip side is Portugal would actually fight for results.

You know, I'd never seen the stats written down like that until you wrote them down. Scary stuff. All draws and only 1-2 victories is scary.

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I don't agree with you about Pep, but I accept your opinion :)

I'm not sure what Vitor Pereira would be, but I still fell like he has a tactical coherence. The same cannot be said about Sergio Conceição, he only gets results with fierce fighting...

I don't agree with you about Pep, but I accept your opinion :)

I'm not sure what Vitor Pereira would be, but I still fell like he has a tactical coherence. The same cannot be said about Sergio Conceição, he only gets results with fierce fighting type players. Portuguese are more like "dancers" in football. We are technical and like to dribble. I just think that we need someone that can make this group of players play good attacking football without conceding defensive mistakes that often. I mean, look at our team, they play defensively and still give so many space to our opponents to explore... you can't play like that if you want to win. We need another tactical approach.

Jorge Jesus might be a bit choaky in tournaments yes, but he makes his teams play well more often than not, which makes me think that if Portugal would play well, how far would they go? The only downside is his ego... he would be a top coach if it wasn't for that. He is good running marathons, but bad running sprints.

What do you think about the other coaches I mentioned: Emery, Paulo Fonseca and Rui Jorge?

Yeah, about the stats. Also, look at how marginal the results were in big tournaments, even more considering the facts that in the group stages alone 66% of these teams were "weak" teams. Do you realize now why I think he isn't the right person for this job? But I must give credit to him for being so lucky. Apart from 2016 and 2018. He progressed in the group stage with a last minute penalty.

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Portugal has every chance to win again. This team is much better than the team we had in 2016, and perhaps the strongest Portuguese lineup since 2004. Stop being negative and be open to the possibility of Portugal winning again! The only reason...

Portugal has every chance to win again. This team is much better than the team we had in 2016, and perhaps the strongest Portuguese lineup since 2004. Stop being negative and be open to the possibility of Portugal winning again! The only reason Portugal is betting odds at 6, is because we have a difficult group to get through. When we won in 2016, we were practically written off.

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Agree, we definitely have a tough group to contend with. And on paper, I think we do have a good shot based on talent.

But today's performance against Spain, and the fact that Morata was their striker (Morata is either always offside or he...

Agree, we definitely have a tough group to contend with. And on paper, I think we do have a good shot based on talent.

But today's performance against Spain, and the fact that Morata was their striker (Morata is either always offside or he would miss hitting an aircraft carrier at 10 feet), saved us from assured defeat.

I saw nothing in terms of offensive opportunities, no ideas and no clear tactical blueprint. If Santos keeps up with these uninspired decisions, we will not get out of the group stage.

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Mourinho hinted at being a NT manager. Any takers on him as the NT coach?

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“The game against Germany served as a lesson.”

João Palhinha
(Portugal midfielder highlights the factor behind the huge improvement by Portugal in their final Euro 2020 Group F match against France) 

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