Santos recalls Ricardo Pereira, Bruma, João Mário and André Silva
Seleção coach Fernando Santos has announced the squad for Portugal’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Luxembourg and Ukraine.
The big news is a first call-up for centre-back Rúben Semedo, who has put personal problems behind him and is rewarded for an excellent start to the season at Olympiakos. Meanwhile, good recent performances have earned recalls for Ricardo Pereira, João Mário, Bruma and André Silva.
Rúben Semedo’s life, let alone his football career, appeared in tatters a year and a half ago with the defender facing charges and a possible jail sentence for his involvement in separate incidents of alleged assault, brandishing a firearm, kidnapping and theft while at Villarreal.
After the furore died down, Semedo was loaned to Huesca at the start of last season, but his recuperation truly began when returning to Portugal and playing for Rio Ave – also on loan – for whom he performed admirably in the second half of last season.
Nevertheless, Villarreal were not keen on retaining his services and sold him to Olympiakos in the summer. Semedo has continued his excellent form, becoming a key player under Portuguese coach Pedro Martins as the Greek giants have made a strong start to the season. Semedo has been an ever-present in a stingy defence (1 goal conceded in 5 league games) and has proved his usefulness at the other end of the pitch, scoring three times in all competitions this season including in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“It’s not because of a setback in life that people don’t have the right to follow their path and move forwards,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos when asked about Semedo’s call-up.
“Rúben has clearly shown he has been able to react the right way and he’s having a very good season at Olympiakos. I’ve watched him many times. He was close to being called up in the last squad, but an injury meant he ended up missing out. What counts for me is his ability and what he can bring to the team. He’s certainly got over his bad phase.”
Portugal play Luxembourg on Friday 11 October at Sporting’s Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon, before the clash against Group B table toppers Ukraine in Kiev the following Monday.
The Seleção are currently on a 4-match winning streak in competitive play and two more victories next week will all but book their place at Euro 2020.
Full Portugal squad
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Wolves), Beto (Goztepe), José Sá (Olympiakos)
Defenders: Ricardo Pereira (Leicester), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Rúben Semedo (Olympiakos), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Mário Rui (Napoli)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (Porto), Rúben Neves (Wolves), William Carvalho (Bétis), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), João Mário (Lokomotiv), João Moutinho (Wolves), Pizzi (Benfica)
Forwards: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruma (PSV), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Rafa Silva (Benfica), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), João Félix (Atlético Madrid)
By Tom Kundert