Seleção coach Fernando Santos usually has a surprise of two when it comes to announcing the Portugal squad, and today was no different. Braga’s Brazilian born striker Dyego Sousa was given a debut call-up for the start of the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
Benfica’s teenage star João Félix is another debutant, while Wolves forward Diogo Jota gets the nod and there are recalls for José Fonte and João Moutinho.
With regard to Sousa’s call-up, Fernando Santos said: “I always said that any player who was eligible has the chance to represent Portugal. The time has come when I believe this player should be selected and that’s why he’s here. He fills all the natural requisites.”
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo is back for the first time since the World Cup. Santos was asked if the Juventus forward had managed to surprise him with his magnificent hat-trick against Atlético Madrid.
“His performance didn’t surprise me,” replied the coach. “It was the same as when he scored three goals against Spain at the World Cup and he’s scored three in a match so many times. The only time he surprised me was when I first got to know him as Sporting coach, when he was 18 years old.”
Portugal host Ukraine on Friday 22 March at the Estádio da Luz, before playing Serbia at the same venue three days later as they begin the defence of their European Championship crown.
Goalkeepers: Beto (Goztepe), José Sá (Olympiakos), Rui Patrício (Wolves)
Defenders: João Cancelo (Juventus), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Mário Rui (Napoli)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), Rúben Neves (Wolves), William Carvalho (Bétis), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), João Mário (Inter), João Moutinho (Wolves), Pizzi (Benfica), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Forwards: João Félix (Benfica), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia) Rafa Silva (Benfica), André Silva (Sevilla), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Wolves), Dyego Sousa (Braga)
By Tom Kundert