With the domestic season done and dusted in Portugal, attention has shifted to international football. As the young Seleção stars challenge for glory at the U20 World Cup in Poland, back home the senior side is preparing for a tilt at becoming winners of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Despite home advantage and welcoming back captain Cristiano Ronaldo – who sat out the group phase of the competition – coach Fernando Santos was keen to downplay the notion that Portugal were favourites to lift the trophy. 

“Portugal has had the best player in the world since 2004 and has only won (a tournament) once,” pointed out the coach, when asked if the two factors made the Seleção favourites.

“I understand the idea behind your question, but why is Portugal more of a favourite than the other teams? Because Germany or Spain or others aren’t here? Name’s don’t win tournaments. Because we are playing at home? We played at home in 2004 and we didn’t win. We went to France (Euro 2016), who were supposed to be favourites, and we won.

“Favouritism is very theoretical. We can say we are contenders and we want to win it, and since I’ve been in this job I’ve never hidden the fact that is our ambition. I always tell the players: we are not better than anybody else, but it’s also difficult for any other team to be better than us.”

Santos was speaking on the day most of the players (15 of the 23) arrived at the Cidade do Futebol complex on the outskirts of Lisbon. Nélson Semedo, Mário Rui and Gonçalo Guedes report for duty today, while Beto, Pepe, Danilo, Bruno Fernandes and captain Ronaldo join the camp on Wednesday. The coach will therefore have one week with the full squad to prepare the team ahead of the semi-final against Switzerland on 5 June at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto.

The veteran coach would not be drawn on who will comprise the starting XI but says the team is practically decided in his mind. “Something would be wrong if I didn’t know who was going to play. I’m not 100% decided on the line-up, but I don’t have many doubts. However, the training sessions will have an influence.”

One certainty is that Danilo will not play against Switzerland. The Porto midfielder serves a one-match suspension after getting sent off in Portugal’s final Nations League match against Poland.

There are also doubts about whether Juventus right-back João Cancelo will be fit to play after a recent operation on his nose. “Let’s see how he is in training,” said Santos. “He’ll have to use a mask for a while; if the feedback is not positive we won’t pick him.”

By Tom Kundert

Related: Fernando Santos names Portugal’s Nations League Final Four squad

Related: Seleção Podcast – Nations League squad announcement

 

 

Comments (5)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Loser talk.
I predict Santos will set Portugal
Up to play not to lose. Our defence is shit now, we all saw how bad Pepe was with Port Fc this season.

Portugal could win if they go for the game and attack vigorously, however , they won’t do that....

Loser talk.
I predict Santos will set Portugal
Up to play not to lose. Our defence is shit now, we all saw how bad Pepe was with Port Fc this season.

Portugal could win if they go for the game and attack vigorously, however , they won’t do that. They will try to defend and play cautious and get exposed by the other squads . It isn’t 2016 anymore , monster 2016 form Real Madrid Pepe is long gone , Cedric is no longer preferred at RB (Cancelo can’t defend), Alves and Fonte are past it.

Portugal has 3 things going for it 1) home advantage 2) Ronaldo being well rested with no apparent injury concern. He will be motivated after missing out on champions league 3) attacking options galore such as Rafa, Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota , etc.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Man, this Z guy just stinks negativity. This guy is giving out about people THAT AREN'T EVEN IN THIS SQUAD (Alves - who had a decent season given his age at Parma). I think everyone is painfully aware this isn't 2016. Did not see our earlier...

Man, this Z guy just stinks negativity. This guy is giving out about people THAT AREN'T EVEN IN THIS SQUAD (Alves - who had a decent season given his age at Parma). I think everyone is painfully aware this isn't 2016. Did not see our earlier games in the Nations League Qualifiers at all?

Think we performed fairly well - people seem to forget this is not a videogame.

"Portugal could win if they go for the game and attack vigorously" - then proceeds to have a go at Cancelo who CAN ATTACK...and not defend.

I thought Santos words were accurate - Portugal can beat any team on the planet but they have to prove it. Playing the Swiss is certainly an interesting one. They are likely to be pumped up given the last time we played and beat them to qualify for WC in 2018. If this game is still 0-0 going to the later stages I'd love to see Joao Felix get a run out. He could be our Renato Sanches this time around - a player that has hit form out of seemingly nowhere and nobody has quite figured him out as he's playing without fear. FORCA PORTUGAL.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I have a theory that -z- is actually Tom's alter ego. Tom, can you confirm?

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Ha ha. You got me Danny! Been a tough day in the office adding to my bulging bank balance then breaking more world records down the gym. Off home to my Miss Italy wife now.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I couldn't think of a bigger insult Danny. Tom is one of the nicest, most passionate and frankly chill people I've ever talked to.

He's super objective about all club teams, and has the best footy website on the net where you get actual...

I couldn't think of a bigger insult Danny. Tom is one of the nicest, most passionate and frankly chill people I've ever talked to.

He's super objective about all club teams, and has the best footy website on the net where you get actual analysis, not propaganda.

I mean sure, he's broken a few personal records at the gym, but that's nothing to scoff at

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