The dust was yet to settle on Portugal’s costly defeat against Serbia in Lisbon last night and the inquest had already begun. Under-fire Seleção coach Fernando Santos accepted responsibility for the result but remains confident he can guide the team to Qatar (“my team will be at the World Cup in Qatar, that is a guarantee”).

Bernardo Silva (“it was an awful performance”) and João Palhinha (“the dressing room is in bits”), however, did not hold back in assessing a nightmare night for Portugal at the Estádio da Luz.

PortuGOAL rounds up the match reaction. 

 

Fernando Santos, Portugal coach

“We played no better than on Thursday. We started well; we scored a goal. Then we started to not have the ball, drop deep and arrive late to the ball. We found it hard to get our marking right. I tried, the players tried, they fought hard. The message wasn’t to play like that. If the idea was to draw, we wouldn’t have played like this, in a 4-3-3.

“Some players didn’t understand the message in the first half. I explained at the break. I wanted our full-backs to push up, to play further up the pitch, and the game was more balanced, we had fewer difficulties. We created 2 or 3 goal-scoring chances, they did too. We had the clear opportunity with Renato. At a certain point he had to come off, I brought on Bruno to continue to give mobility to the team.

“The Bernardo Silva substitution? He asked me to come off. He was the only player who was getting hold of the ball. I’d have had to be a bit of a fool to take him off because he was the only player who had the ball at his feet and was turning the game in our favour. He’d had (fitness) problems all week, yesterday he trained well, but he signalled to me on the bench that he couldn’t continue.”

“Our DNA is to play with the ball at our feet, but we found it difficult. It’s true that our team lacked personality. Bernardo wanted the ball, but he was the only one. We always played with fear and anxiety, passing from side to side, back to the goalkeeper. The responsibility is mine.

“We have to apologise. The Portuguese people are disappointed, but they are not more disappointed than us. But my team will be at the World Cup in Qatar, that is a guarantee, only we’ll have to do it through a playoff.”

 


 Related: Portugal 1-2 Serbia match report - Seleção denied by Serbia in stoppage time


 

Bernardo Silva, Portugal midfielder

“It was an awful display by Portugal. We scored early and then let them play. It was an awful performance; I can’t explain it. Playing at home in front of 65,000 people we have to do better. The plan was to try and have the ball, which didn’t happen and at no period of the match were we better than Serbia. This is inadmissible and we have to improve in March.”  

 

João Palhinha, Portugal midfielder

“We have to assume our responsibility because we didn’t play a good game. We were too defensive. The changing room is in bits after failing to qualify directly, but now we will go for qualification in the playoff. We defended more than we wanted to. This is tough to take for all of us. We have to react to defeats, life is not just a series of victories.”

 

Dragan Stojkovic, Serbia coach

“We knew we would play against a great team and it wasn’t easy. Only a win would do. This win has booked our place in the World Cup; mission accomplished. We played with a lot of courage.

“I believed we could win. Even in March, when we started qualification, we knew that the decisive match would be this one, in Lisbon. We managed to consolidate a style of football that allows us to dominate games, no matter who the opposition. We had a lot of faith, the players always believed in what we were saying. This self-confidence emerged at the right time and I want to congratulate all the players for this qualification.”

by Tom Kundert

 

Comments (21)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Totally depressing. Why are we so Shit. I really can not believe that given everyone we have available this is the best we can do. I know there are times when bad luck plays a role, just like with the disallowed goal from the first Serbia match...

Totally depressing. Why are we so Shit. I really can not believe that given everyone we have available this is the best we can do. I know there are times when bad luck plays a role, just like with the disallowed goal from the first Serbia match but come on. In 2016 we were a difficult defensive team to beat. Now it seems like we have weak spots and holes all over the place. Constantly I see the other teams right front of our goal. Why is the attack not closed down earlier?. Where is our attacking creativity? The thing I fear the most is that we do make it but then it's a disaster in Qatar. It's ok to lose but not like this.

It's a bit of a long shot but is it too late for Helder Postiga :))

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Problem is the game has evolved and our system has not the same ideas and same mentality we play for ties and not to dominate we have world class players but our system dosnt work we are still under old regime and we're being left behind use the...

Problem is the game has evolved and our system has not the same ideas and same mentality we play for ties and not to dominate we have world class players but our system dosnt work we are still under old regime and we're being left behind use the wrong players who got out right beat on every aspect of the game honestly need to let some of the old guard go and starts at the top we need new ideas and new system

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Richard you are absolutely right. Something has to change, big time or we will never be anything but has-beens. Let's see what the next moment brings.

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Serbian head coach sums it up right here, this is the difference between a coach and team with balls and our team…

“ We managed to consolidate a style of football that allows us to dominate games, no matter who the opposition.” Dragon Stojkovic

...

Serbian head coach sums it up right here, this is the difference between a coach and team with balls and our team…

“ We managed to consolidate a style of football that allows us to dominate games, no matter who the opposition.” Dragon Stojkovic

Now here’s what santos realistically has to say, here’s my translation …

“We managed to consolidate a style of football that allows us to scrape out results and bet on random moments to score, no matter who the opposition.” Fernando Santos


That my friends is what we’re dealing with here, that’s the intro, body and conclusion of 8 years. I think if each player on Portugal gives Dragon Stojkovic $50,000, maybe just maybe we can get him to coach us? God knows our players have the money to do it. The last thing I’ll say here and I said this a couple years ago and I firmly believe this too. I genuinely don’t think we’re as good as the media hype builds us up to be and the ridiculous transfer fees for our hyped up players dictates either. I really don’t see the majority of our players being much better than the Serbian players at all, you can look at the clubs the Portuguese players are at all day but I have no doubt that a large part of why they’re at these big clubs is because historically Portugal sells all of their young players and guys like Jorge Mendes makes all the noise.

Just look at a guy yesterday like Dusan Tadic, he was miles better than anybody on Portugal and this guy played 4-5 years of his prime for Southampton. Oh but we have Goncalo Guedes and Joao Felix and they moved to PSG and Atletico, oh boy they must be better!!! No fu”k that, I’ll take Dusan Tadic literally over anybody on the Portuguese national team but you won’t hear that from the media. I have way to much to say but at the end of the day we need a new coach and we need players who aren’t pussies and want to beat Macedonia 15-0 and Germany 15-0. That mentality is encouraged by a coach but our Portuguese mentality is the first problem and that’s cultivated by these young kids getting ridiculous transfer fees and the youth behind them sees it and it’s a vicious cycle.

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Great point on the differences in Coaches.

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Tadic is grossly underrated. He was the main engine with Ajax as well, their march to the champions league semi-final was awesome. No clue why he never got the respect from bigger clubs.

Great points Justin, many of the Serbian players have not...

Tadic is grossly underrated. He was the main engine with Ajax as well, their march to the champions league semi-final was awesome. No clue why he never got the respect from bigger clubs.

Great points Justin, many of the Serbian players have not received the credit and respect they deserve. They are a very good side.

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For anyone hoping that Santos will resign.. do his words there sound like someone who intends to resign any time soon? "My team will be in Qatar, that's a guarantee". Uh...Fernando you also said categorically before the Serbia match that you "had...

For anyone hoping that Santos will resign.. do his words there sound like someone who intends to resign any time soon? "My team will be in Qatar, that's a guarantee". Uh...Fernando you also said categorically before the Serbia match that you "had no doubt we would qualify directly in first place"....but then you proceeded to play last night full of fear and caution, like a small team hoping to squeeze through, in front of 65,000 of our own fans. Beyond pathetic! This coach is going nowhere by his own decision, it's up to the Portuguese FA to do what 99.9% of all selecao fans want at this moment: to show him the door! Otherwise we will be stuck with more of his mediocrity come the March play offs....and I repeat, I won't even watch the play offs in March if he's still there in charge!

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So Santos is blaming the players saying they don't get the plan? What plan? There was a plan? I don't think so because the 'team' looked like a bunch of people pulled from the audience and given jerseys and then told to play a game of football...

So Santos is blaming the players saying they don't get the plan? What plan? There was a plan? I don't think so because the 'team' looked like a bunch of people pulled from the audience and given jerseys and then told to play a game of football against an organized team with an intention and the passion and belief to win.
Portugal looked like they were in training, warming up for the real match, not putting themselves out there, to reserve their energies and avoid injury.

I didn't realize Bernardo asked to come off. Can't hold that against Santos but Bruno wasn't the solution.

It's still hard for me to tell the root of the problem with this 'team'.
1) Inept uninspiring coach with no plan?
2) Over confident egotistical players that just believe they can win on their CV alone?
3) The players really just aren't that good and they only look better because at club level they are surrounded by quality players that make them look good?
4) There is a Coup and the players are trying to get the coach out by only playing half as good as they can?

If they, the 'team', don't play with passion in qualifying in March, then they will never make it out of the group stage in Qatar.

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If Portugal had played like Serbia did last night and lost, the end result would have been more tolerable. One could then bemoan the disallowed goal in that first game. But as it stands, any neutral with little knowledge of the names on the pitch...

If Portugal had played like Serbia did last night and lost, the end result would have been more tolerable. One could then bemoan the disallowed goal in that first game. But as it stands, any neutral with little knowledge of the names on the pitch but a basic understanding of football would unquestionably say that Serbia was the top team in the group by a wide margin based on the two matches. Enough is enough, Santos must go now.

To hear Santos imply that the team did not follow his game plan in the first half should only increase pressure on the FPF to do something. To guarantee that we will prevail in the playoffs is garbage, how about guaranteeing to a man that this team will perform with the intensity we saw in that 2016 final? Heck, I’d be thrilled if they could show the intensity and mentality of the Serbian team last night.

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This has been coming for a while...even at Euro 2016 we tied the first three matches in the worst group in the tourney...we won one match in regular time and got lucky against France...but you need luck to win a tourney, and it went our way for...

This has been coming for a while...even at Euro 2016 we tied the first three matches in the worst group in the tourney...we won one match in regular time and got lucky against France...but you need luck to win a tourney, and it went our way for once, and no one can take that away....but at WC 2018 we played scared and disorganized against Uruguay and barely got through another weak group...Euro 2020/1...We looked bad in all 3 group matches...Germany totally dismantled us, especially on the right flank (Semedo/Bernardo) and Santos didn't make the adjustments in time, and Germany ran rampant against us, even a couch potato like me could see an adjustment needed to be made but they're ALWAYS too slow to react...and when they finally do, it's too late and the players lose confidence...Last night it was the left flank, Mendes was overrun constantly, he's a kid and had no support, Serbia went back there over and over...the adjustments came too late...at the end of the match Santos had SEVEN defensive players on the pitch and they still left two Serbians open at the far post, HOW??...Let's remember to even get to this point CR7 had to score two 90+ minute goals against Ireland...and yes, we got screwed with UEFA/FIFA's insane reluctance to have consistent VAR and goal-line technology across all the matches (don't forget Bernardo missed an open net rebound off of CR7's initial goal that wasn't counted in the first match against Serbia), but we still had the advantage in the final match and couldn't produce...it's time for Santos to step down or change the mentality of this team.

For those saying the players are overrated...they are NOT overrated, they are world class players playing in big clubs...do you really think a coach like Pep or Klopp would keep playing guys like Cancelo, Dias, Bernardo, Jota week in and out and getting results if these guys were all overrated? I don't think so...we have top players across all the top teams in Europe, they didn't get there by accident and they didn't get there because of Mendes (maybe one or two lol) they are there because they deserve it.

On the bright side at least we have some meaningful matches to watch in March. LET'S GO!

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I will leave it to the Portuguese FPF to take the appropriate measures here - NOT. It all comes down to results, you cannot hide from the results. You could talk all you want about future results, but as of this weekend the results tell us that...

I will leave it to the Portuguese FPF to take the appropriate measures here - NOT. It all comes down to results, you cannot hide from the results. You could talk all you want about future results, but as of this weekend the results tell us that we need change. So Portuguese FPF do you have the balls to make the change? Sadly I think they are all in bed together and nothing gets changed. They will go back and look at the video and wrongly assume that the players are at fault here. Fernando Gomes step to the table and make a decision that you need to make. Or better yet, fire them all and Mr Figo please take over, and hire a new manager.

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First, let me start by saying: Let's Go Santos! After reading Santo's comments about blaming the players, he definitely needs to go. He tells them to play like Greece and then expects them to be more aggressive. Like I said before, Santos, Fonte,...

First, let me start by saying: Let's Go Santos! After reading Santo's comments about blaming the players, he definitely needs to go. He tells them to play like Greece and then expects them to be more aggressive. Like I said before, Santos, Fonte, Pepe, Moutinho, and Ronaldo all need to go. Thank you for your service, but now it's time for you to retire and let someone else take your place. The need to send a message to the players and fire Santos now! There is no way Portugal are going to win the World Cup or anything else playing the boring football that Santos plays. Let's face it, we got lucky at 2016, but we have so much talent to let it be squandered by a dinosaur like Santos.

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“These players continue to surprise me every day.”

Rúben Amorim
(Sporting coach after 3-1 Lisbon derby victory against Benfica at the Estádio da Luz) 

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