The FIFA World Cup 2022 is mere months away, and football fever amongst fans and bookmakers alike is rising.
The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on 21 November, and while the final squads won’t be announced until approximately six weeks before the big kickoff, there is a lot of speculation surrounding who will be representing Portugal at the World Cup and who will miss out.
Which players have the highest odds of taking to the field for Portugal in the FIFA World Cup 2022?
Ironically, despite hardly playing at all this season, the safest bet is certainly Cristiano Ronaldo, who will turn 38 in February 2023. It will be the Portugal captain’s last World Cup and he will be itching to do something special for the Portuguese World Cup team and add to his plethora of achievements, especially in a difficult phase of his incredible career when he is no longer first choice at his club side.
Ronaldo’s teammate at Old Trafford Bruno Fernandes is another safe bet to make the squad, as are Manchester City players Bernardo Silva, João Cancelo and Rúben Dias, and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota as the “English armada”. Barring any injuries, these half dozen players are shoe-ins and garner the greatest odds to take to the field for Portugal on 24 November when the team takes on Ghana.
Other certainties to make the plane to Qatar are Porto duo Diogo Costa and Pepe, backup goalkeeper Rui Patrício, left-backs Raphaël Guerreiro and Nuno Mendes. It would be a big surprise if coach Fernando Santos did not select his trusted midfield duo of William Carvalho and Danilo, the latter with the added bonus of being able to step in at centre-back.
That makes it 13 core players that we can virtually guarantee will be in Portugal’s World Cup 2022 squad. As for the rest…
Will the Nations League squad remain unchanged?
Portugal were up and down in the recent UEFA Nations League games, putting in lacklustre performances in away matches against Spain and Switzerland, in contrast to two excellent showings in the two home matches at the Estádio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon, especially the exhilarating 4-0 thrashing of Switzerland.
As in the previous European Championship, managers can name 26 players instead of the usual 23. Fernando Santos went with the following 26-man squad for the Nations League matches in June:
- Diogo Costa (Porto)
- Rui Patrício (Roma)
- José Sá (Wolves)
- Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)
- João Cancelo (Manchester City)
- Danilo Pereira (PSG) - (Although usually a midfielder Danilo was played at CB in all 4 games)
- David Carmo (Porto)
- Domingo Duarte (Getafe)
- Nuno Mendes (PSG)
- Pepe (Porto)
- Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
- João Palhinha (Fulham)
- João Moutinho (Wolves)
- Rúben Neves (Wolves)
- Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
- Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
- Matheus Nunes (Wolves)
- Vitinha (PSG)
- Otávio Monteiro (Porto)
- William Carvalho (Real Betis)
- João Felix (Atlético Madrid)
- André Silva (RB Leipzig)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
- Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
- Rafael Leão (AC Milan)
- Gonçalo Guedes (Wolves)
- Ricardo Horta (Braga)
It is an extremely formidable squad, and that is before you consider the likes of those not selected in June, such as Renato Sanches, Pedro Gonçalves, Nélson Semedo and even Fábio Carvalho, who will all feel they have a chance of making it to the Middle East in November considering the way they have started the season.
Could Portugal win the FIFA World Cup 2022?
The profile of Portugal has never been higher with so many of their players performing brilliantly in the EPL, the world’s most watched and prestigious league. The Seleção is therefore well backed among football fans and bookmakers, with the odds of Portugal taking the Cup currently ranging at +1200 (12/1) and +1400 (14/1) at the most popular sportsbooks. That said, they would have to pull out all the stops if they want to get past Germany, France and Brazil, who currently have better odds at +900 (9/1), +550 (11/2) and +500 (5/1) respectively of winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the top bookmakers.
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Portugal plays in group H alongside Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana, with the Seleção kicking off against Ghana on 24 November. Portugal will then face off against Uruguay on 28 November and South Korea on 2 December, so there is ample opportunity to place a wager on them.
If Portugal win Group H, it will theoretically forge a more favourable pathway to the final, especially as finishing runners-up in the group could mean a Round of 16 meeting against Brazil, as ever one of the outright favourites to win the tournament. Nevertheless, even if Portugal start strongly, it will likely be a familiar European team awaiting them in the quarter-finals, probably Spain or Germany. This will obviously be no easy feat as both these teams have shown strength in the last year, but Portugal will not feel overawed.
Is Portugal destined for greatness?
As much as bookmakers and fans like to speculate, we will have to wait until November to hear the announcement of the 26 names that will represent Portugal at the World Cup, but early-season indications of Portugal’s players around the different leagues must leave Seleção fans admitting things are looking pretty rosy.
Whilst Group H is comprised by four strong teams and Portugal will have to play three tough matches to start their campaign, the odds for this group are in their favour and it could be just the preparation Fernando Santos and his squad need to embark on a memorable FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament.