One day before the Seleção take their bow at World Cup 2022, head coach Fernando Santos has reiterated that his squad are in good shape ahead of the Group H clash against Ghana.

Santos talked about his players being totally focused but aware of the difficulties that they would face, while again dismissing the notion that the noise surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo would negatively affect Portugal’s campaign. 

Ghana challenge

Fernando Santos: “Winning a tournament like this is extremely difficult for any team, for any country. You only need look at these first few games to see that clearly. I was watching the Croatia-Morocco game just now, and you see very even contests.

“That’s because most of the players are in the same leagues. Against Ghana, for instance, two or three of their players are adversaries of Bruno [Fernandes, who was sitting alongside Santos] in the same championship. They play for big teams and are used to the tactical issues at play. In the past you would see a difference, but nowadays you don’t, especially as all the coaches are of an extremely high level.

“We are prepared for opponents that will cause us a lot of problems. Ghana are a very well organised team. Their game against Switzerland showed that. African teams have a lot of talent, unpredictability, and are always improving tactically. Today they are much more complete teams.

“Portugal have played African teams in the last three World Cups and they have always been very tough games.” [0-0 v Ivory Coast in 2010; 2-1 win v Ghana in 2014; 1-0 win v Morocco in 2018]

Importance of winning the first game?

Fernando Santos: “Winning the first game in any competition is always important, as it brings positive energy.

“But I’ve played a tournament when we drew our first three games and won – the European Championship – and if we were given that option again we’d all take it. But we realise that’s a big risk, we know that.”

 

 

World Cup dream

Fernando Santos: “I have that ambition, the desire and the dream of winning the World Cup. I believe we have the ability to fight for this goal. We want to give the Portuguese people great joy.”

 

Ronaldo ‘noise’

Fernando Santos: “Will it take away our focus? No, it won’t. I haven’t even heard the players talk about it at any time here, at training, during leisure time, when they’re playing games such as table football, not even Ronaldo himself. Maybe in their rooms they turn on the TV, they talk to their families, they do what they want.

“But what’s important is the total focus I see in my players and a fantastic spirit, very in tune with what they have to do, what our goals are, while at the same time aware of the difficulties that we will face because they have a realistic outlook.”

By Tom Kundert

Related: “If I don’t score a single goal and Portugal win the World Cup, I’ll take that” - Ronaldo

 

Comments (16)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I think if Ronaldo's interview would've come after the World Cup there would've been this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him, but now the issue has been resolved. It's probably better too to have the focus of the press on these issues rather...

I think if Ronaldo's interview would've come after the World Cup there would've been this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him, but now the issue has been resolved. It's probably better too to have the focus of the press on these issues rather than doubting Santos's tactics, team form and the rest of the usual.

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Samuel
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Although none of those concerns go away just because Ronaldo's contract with United has been terminated.

Santos
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Good luck to the boys tomorrow. I know I'm clearly in the pessimistic camp but I would love to be wrong and see us make a great World Cup.

Santos
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I second that, even though I feel we will resort to bad habits, Santos too conservative, being the only one who can slow us down. And Ronaldo, pretending to press.

I hope I am wrong and Santos gives us a proactive team and Ronaldo cares more...

I second that, even though I feel we will resort to bad habits, Santos too conservative, being the only one who can slow us down. And Ronaldo, pretending to press.

I hope I am wrong and Santos gives us a proactive team and Ronaldo cares more about winning than goals or preserving his energy(for goals). And they both realize when it is time to pull him out, and he is willing to come off.

The results will be what they are, you need a bit of luck, but if the performances are not good, then I will pissed. No need to go without full commitment to win. That means knowing how to build up to score and sacrificing your ego and records for the victory.

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Paulo
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Unfortunately, we know it will be Ronaldo +10 for every single second of this tournament. We just have to hope it somehow works out. We've now seen at United the song and dance that happens when Ronaldo is subbed out and I doubt Santos has the...

Unfortunately, we know it will be Ronaldo +10 for every single second of this tournament. We just have to hope it somehow works out. We've now seen at United the song and dance that happens when Ronaldo is subbed out and I doubt Santos has the tomates to make that decision.

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Santos
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Those that wanted Santos out have very short memories. They forget misery we went through under Scolari (who wasted one of our best-ever squads), Quieroz...Paulo Bento...The three kings of mediocrity and incompetence.

Santos understands the...

Those that wanted Santos out have very short memories. They forget misery we went through under Scolari (who wasted one of our best-ever squads), Quieroz...Paulo Bento...The three kings of mediocrity and incompetence.

Santos understands the essence of Portuguese football better than anyone and he's won Portugal it's only silverware. I'm pumped! With a little luck, who knows what can happen.

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Adam
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Adam, I think it's pretty overly-simplistic to just say people who have little faith in Santos have short - term memories.

It's pretty hard to have short-term memories when the manager has been in charge for almost 9 years.

Yes, everyone...

Adam, I think it's pretty overly-simplistic to just say people who have little faith in Santos have short - term memories.

It's pretty hard to have short-term memories when the manager has been in charge for almost 9 years.

Yes, everyone appreciates all he has done, yes he will always be revered for his CV, but that does not excuse the underwhelming work he's done when he's had the best generation probably ever, in Portuguese history.

The team plays to the level of the competition, scared and lacking any proper identity. I do hope he can pull a rabbit out of the hat, but I also see a scenario where Portugal look listless and fail to capitalize on arguably the most talented team on paper at this competition.

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Chris
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Scolari was pretty good, they got to the Euro final and world cup semifinal. In 2008 he didn't have the same golden generation squad and lost against Germany but there were some questionable individual mistakes from Ricardo and Paulo Ferreira.
Que...

Scolari was pretty good, they got to the Euro final and world cup semifinal. In 2008 he didn't have the same golden generation squad and lost against Germany but there were some questionable individual mistakes from Ricardo and Paulo Ferreira.
Queiroz played a frustrating game but the goal Villa scored against Portugal was from offside (The only goal they conceded at that tournament). There was no VAR then. Also Nani and Moutinho were injured for that tournament.
Bento did a fantastic job at Euro 2012, Portugal being probably the best team there. Unlucky to have lost at penalties against Spain's golden generation. However he stuck with the same squad all the way through WC2014 even tho many players were not having a good form, so that was an awful tournament.
I don't think we can call these three incompetents.

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Samuel
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Also in defence of Bento at 2014 the squad was weak. We had Almeida at left back for god sake. And while he did fall out with some players needlessly it has to be said the pool of available players was awful. But that is what makes where have...

Also in defence of Bento at 2014 the squad was weak. We had Almeida at left back for god sake. And while he did fall out with some players needlessly it has to be said the pool of available players was awful. But that is what makes where have been with Fernando Santos the last 3 years all the more frustrating. He has a pool of players like no Portugal manager has ever had before and we're consistently poor both in qualifying and the tournament proper.

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Santos
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There's NO DEBATE around Scolari.
He had a squad of Porto players that JUST WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!
He had a young Cristiano Ronaldo and a peak Luis Figo.
He chose to leave that year's UEFA Best Keeper,Vitor Baia at home.
He chose to never...

There's NO DEBATE around Scolari.
He had a squad of Porto players that JUST WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!
He had a young Cristiano Ronaldo and a peak Luis Figo.
He chose to leave that year's UEFA Best Keeper,Vitor Baia at home.
He chose to never bring Ricardo Quaresma (who was on absolute fire) but brought Luis Boa Morte!
And he lost to Greece TWICE in Portugal.

He was not "pretty good". He was a disgrace. You could maybe make some excuses for later coaches that had inferior squads but Scolari massively underachieved.

There might be a debate around Santos, but I know how bad and disorganized things can get. I'd rather have a B+ manager and stability than go back to what we were then.

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Adam
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France and an excellent Czech side also lost to the Greeks. Don't get me wrong, Scolari was limited tactically and that screwed us in the final but if you seriously consider his tenure a disgrace I think you need to have a word with yourself. I...

France and an excellent Czech side also lost to the Greeks. Don't get me wrong, Scolari was limited tactically and that screwed us in the final but if you seriously consider his tenure a disgrace I think you need to have a word with yourself. I think his heart wasn't in it in 2008 and he should have made way in hindsight. Describing him as a "disgrace" is just ridiculous though. How would you describe our last two limp tournament outings under Santos?

It's also funny how anyone coming on here and pointing any kind of criticism at Santos or Ronaldo, no matter how fair they try to be are described as being haters or spitting vitriol, but the only users I have seen using particularly derogatory language are the Santos and Ronaldo cultists.

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Santos
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So the way to overcome the mediocrity, is to stay with a coach who has become mediocre?

Paulo
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Ask Italy if they would trade places with us and then rethink your question.

Adam
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I guarantee you, no way Italy would ever take Fernantos(unless maybe he wins this world cup), but they might trade for our players.

Paulo
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I read another sports page quote where the players said they were fighting for their legend to raise the World Cup

I hope they are tenaciously relentless and driven by the gods themselves

Jerrold Hewson
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Identity...

I know this isn't going to happen tomorrow, but I would start the same players that started against Nigeria, except for 2. Of course Ronaldo has to play, and Andre Silva was effective anyway, so no issues there. And Diogo Costa over...

Identity...

I know this isn't going to happen tomorrow, but I would start the same players that started against Nigeria, except for 2. Of course Ronaldo has to play, and Andre Silva was effective anyway, so no issues there. And Diogo Costa over Patricio, he is much better with his feet in case they try to do a high press.

Dalot over Cancelo? Just because it worked, let's try to keep continuity, you can always put him in later if the need arises.

William, not sold on him either, but he was effective, so for the sake of continuity, I will start him.

Leao, a super sub.

I think Portugal needs an identity for this cup, and just throwing in the 11 individuals who don't complement each other has been the issue with Santos.

I really appreciated the movement and interchange they showed against Nigeria, and win or lose, it gave us an identity to build off of.

The Santos way of hoping the players will pull off magic after playing 70 minutes of defensive ball and going a goal down will not cut it.

Regardless of who starts tomorrow, FORCA PORTUGAL!

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Paulo
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