Roberto Martínez often doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves as a manager, and that could be down to the fact that he has never won any major trophies.
However, the former Belgium boss has been hugely influential in the game, with the likes of Graham Potter having studied his methods for possession-based football.
Since taking over as Portugal manager in 2023, Martínez has enjoyed one of the best spells of his career. The Seleção have had the best qualifying campaign in their history in the lead-up to Euro 2024, and there has clearly been a tactical evolution under the new coach.
This begs the question, why aren’t Portugal more heavily favoured to win the competition?
Portugal aren’t considered favourites for Euro 2024
Despite being one of the first teams to qualify for Euro 2024 after an amazing qualification campaign, Portugal’s odds of winning Euro 2024 at the time of writing are 8/1. England, France, Germany, and Spain are ahead of Martínez’s charges in the bookies’ estimations to lift the coveted trophy in Germany next summer.
These odds could represent strong value for bettors, as there’s arguably no side in better shape than Portugal in Europe currently. Martínez masterminded 10 wins from 10 matches in Group J, with 36 goals scored and only two conceded. This was the most goals scored and fewest conceded in the country’s history for a World Cup or European Championship qualifying phase. It was also the first time ever that the nation had completed a perfect qualification campaign.
Martínez won’t mind this dark horse status, as it is the opposite to what he experienced as Belgium manager. With his previous side, the expectations were extremely high, and this put a lot of pressure on the players to perform. Without this added stress, Martínez and Portugal have a chance to shine at Euro 2024.
Martínez has shown tactical versatility
Martínez has shown a lot of flexibility with his approach as Portugal coach, and he has made excellent use of the deep and talented squad at his disposal. It’s clear that the Spaniard wants to blend youth with experience, with the likes of Toti Gomes and João Neves given a chance to play, alongside veterans like Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has also shown that he has a plan for games without Ronaldo, with Portugal’s greatest ever win coming without the iconic star when they beat Luxembourg 9-0.
Martínez appreciates Ronaldo’s influence but is also developing strategies without the 38-year-old. Bruno Fernandes has emerged as the key player for the new boss, with six goals and eight assists across the qualifying matches. However, there is still a need for adaptability in games, especially against sides that sit deep. Despite winning, Portugal had some struggles in their away matches against Iceland and Slovakia.
Portugal have developed some great momentum over the last year, and it’s important that they carry this on into 2024. The nation may not be the likeliest winners according to the bookmakers, but Ronaldo and company will not be fazed by unfavourable odds and being unfancied could actually work in their favour. Martínez looks like the ideal man to give the nation a real chance of winning the European Championship for the second time.