Fernando Santos has announced the Portugal squad for the final two Group B World Cup qualifying matches next week.

This list includes notable recalls, such Euro 2016 hero Eder, fellow forward Gonçalo Guedes, midfielder Renato Sanches, left-back Antunes and goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Portugal play Andorra away on Saturday 7 October, before welcoming Switzerland to Lisbon three days later in what will almost certainly be a shoot-out to decide who qualifies for the 2018 World Cup directly and who will require a playoff to try and get to Russia.

Santos is refusing to take his eye off the ball in relation to the first match. “We have to be totally focused on Andorra,” he said. “If we’re not, there will be no final [against Switzerland],”

The inclusion of Gonçalo Guedes is reward for his fabulous form at Valencia, with Santos saying, “he has completely different characteristics to other players, and can play on the wing or as a second forward.” In relation to Renato Sanches, the Portugal coach explained that “we travel all over Europe observing our players and Renato has given very positive signs,” while Eder “has shown he is apt and in good physical shape.”

Santos also denied any conflict with Sporting coach Jorge Jesus regarding the exclusion of left-back Fábio Coentrão, who got injured and had to leave the pitch early in the 1-0 victory in Hungary in Portugal’s last match. “I’d never exclude a player for such reasons. I’m at ease talking to all the club coaches. Assessing the capacity of players to play 180 minutes, we believe this was our best option.”

 

Portugal squad

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Goztepe) Rui Patrício (Sporting)

Defenders: Antunes (Getafe), Bruno Alves (Glasgow Rangers), Cédric Soares (Southampton), Eilseu (Benfica), José Fonte (West Ham), Luís Neto (Fenerbahçe), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), Pepe (Besiktas)

Midfielders: André Gomes (Barcelona), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), João Mário (Inter), João Moutinho (Monaco), Renato Sanches (Swansea), William Carvalho (Sporting)

Forwards: André Silva (Milan), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Éder (Lokomotiv Moscow), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)

By Tom Kundert

 

Comments (18)

  1. Danny

I get that most of these new inclusions aren’t going to play but some of these call ups are ridiculous. Sanches has played like 3 matches this season and looked like garbage in all of them. We have a giant hole at leftback and Coentrão is left...

I get that most of these new inclusions aren’t going to play but some of these call ups are ridiculous. Sanches has played like 3 matches this season and looked like garbage in all of them. We have a giant hole at leftback and Coentrão is left out. I understand that Pizzi hasn’t been his best and simply doesn’t fit in with the national team but how can you leave him out but include Gomes who is even worse and barely played this season. Bruma gets left out I’m assuming due to minum playing time at his new club but if that is the reason then Santos is a hypocrite. Neto has barely played this season and got red carded the other day. Where is Edgar Ie? The only good thing about this call up is Anthony is back and Guedes gets a deserved call up. Let’s all pray Antunes starts vs Switzerland or we are in deep trouble

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  1. Roberto

We have a serious problem at LB. Eliseu will likely start both games. His form for club & country has been atrocious. Antunes gets 90’ consistently at club level, albeit on a weak team –and is now into his 30s. Guerreiro can’t get healthy quick...

We have a serious problem at LB. Eliseu will likely start both games. His form for club & country has been atrocious. Antunes gets 90’ consistently at club level, albeit on a weak team –and is now into his 30s. Guerreiro can’t get healthy quick enough. I can understand Mario Rui being overlooked based on game time at Napoli…but how can Ricardo Pereira not be on this team? He’s gotten big minutes this season in the Liga and the Champions League alike…and he spent a good part of last season playing LB at Nice. Although I disagree with a few other inclusions (not sure about Renato given his form, for example), the only decision that truly impacts the starting 11 is at LB.

Regardless, we obviously have the required talent to beat the Swiss at home. Don’t let world rankings fool you –they’re into the top 7 right now for the same reason Portugal is: a run of form against very weak opposition in our qualifying group.

Although Santos will likely go with preferred options Joao Mario and André Gomes, based on these selections, and what I’ve seen so far this season, I’d go with:

Cedric-Fonte-Pepe-Eliseu
William
Bernardo-Bruno Fernandes-Gelson
André Silva-Cristiano

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  1. joe

A couple things:

I do agree that sanches is still finding form but if you want the sanches back that helped us win euro2016, he needs confidence and being selected helps bring that and should he find his form again...he will be a major asset...

A couple things:

I do agree that sanches is still finding form but if you want the sanches back that helped us win euro2016, he needs confidence and being selected helps bring that and should he find his form again...he will be a major asset come June as we have no other player in middield like him which is why he was so impressive before. So even though his minutes will be limited I believe it is very good for his condfidence and in the end hopefully will benefit us as it did last year.

Goncalo has been impressive at valencia and is a good choice...amd Santos reasoning for it is spot on...dont be suprised if he doesnt get good monites these 2 games.

I hope that Santos doesnt ignore b.fernandes...he just showed that he can play on the highest level with a v.good performance against barcelona and his ability to pick a pass amd be creative is something special...lets hope for some playing time and tactical nous from Santos.

I do agree that not picking at least one of the young CBs between ie and Semedo is a mistake as they are both playing regularly now and despite the teams form...I have watched them and Ie especially has been good...they need to be brought into the fold especially since fonte and neto are playing horrible at the moment.

As far as left back...once guerreiro is fit...its his position but I agree....r.pereira should have been tried against andorra to see how he fares since he has played that position before and offers a ton of quality.

Disappointed bruma was left out for Eder....Bruma has played well for leipzig and has featured pretty well every game mostly subs but has started some games...i think with a.silva ronaldo and a player like guedes...true width on the left that has goal scoring abilities was a better option.

If it was me....my line up would be....

Semedo-pepe-fonte-antunes
B.silva-carvalho-j.mario-guedes
A.silva-ronaldo

Have j.mario play as a 10 In more of a diamond. Take some tactical options against andorra.

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  1. Mikey

When People mention wanting Ruben Semedo being called up it’s a clear indication that they haven’t seen him whatsoever since joining Villarreal. Every time he plays he’s arguably the worst player on the field.

On the other hand, Edgar Ié has...

When People mention wanting Ruben Semedo being called up it’s a clear indication that they haven’t seen him whatsoever since joining Villarreal. Every time he plays he’s arguably the worst player on the field.

On the other hand, Edgar Ié has been one of the only bright spots on this Lille team. He should have been called up instead of Neto who is mediocre at best. Players should be called up based on current form but Santos would rather play his crappy out of form favorites instead.

I really don’t think he has a clue Ricardo plays left back and is actually very good at it. Some really should tell him.

Everytime a call up is announced the only thing I want is no Eliseu. And every time his name is there it’s rage, disappointment, anger, sadness. I simply don’t understand how this person who shouldn’t even be a professional footballer gets called up time and time again.

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  1. Me

For Andorra
Semedo-Pepe-Alves-Antunes
Bernardo-William-Fernandes-Mario
Silva-Ronaldo

For Switzerland
Cedric-Pepe-Fonte-Antunes
Bernardo-William-Moutinho-Mario
Silva-Ronaldo

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  1. Ash

Calling up Sanches shows complete favouratism and total disrespect towards other players. What has he done to warrant this call up? All he has to do now is get minutes and that’s it? His actual performances don’t matter? Who cares what he did a...

Calling up Sanches shows complete favouratism and total disrespect towards other players. What has he done to warrant this call up? All he has to do now is get minutes and that’s it? His actual performances don’t matter? Who cares what he did a year ago. He is not good enough for the national team right now.

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  1. SupremoGino

This list looks rather disappointing. Santos will call up guys like Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches (though I still rate the kid) but leave out any young center back prospects. We've been mentioning this problem for what seems like ages now, and...

This list looks rather disappointing. Santos will call up guys like Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches (though I still rate the kid) but leave out any young center back prospects. We've been mentioning this problem for what seems like ages now, and still not even a sign of changes forthcoming. On Ruben Semedo though, I have to agree with Mikey. I'm not getting the fascination with him. He's been terrible the times I've watched him as well.

Very sad that Raphael Guerreiro hasn't recovered from injury yet. These are the most pivotal matches for WC qualifying and somehow our 1B option Coentrão is left off the team and as usual, Eliseu has a realistic chance of playing. What is going on? Any chance Santos' rolls out Cedric and Nelson Semedo at the same time on opposite flanks? Because this is not looking good. Antunes has just been so in and out of the picture, I don't think now is the right time to throw him in there.

I promised to never criticize Eder again after he brought us Euro glory but many of us have seen him long enough to safely say 9/10 times he's ineffective. His life story is one to admire but on the pitch he is a square shaped boulder and has one of the clumsiest first touches I've ever seen from a professional player. It hurts me to say Nelson Oliveira may still be a better option and if Bruma was a few inches taller, he would have made a fantastic choice too. Thank God for André Silva because without him, our pool of strikers would be the worst it's ever been.

I will still trust Santos, CR & co to carry us to the finish line...

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  1. jon/usa

I agree with most of what has already been said. With regards to our center-backs, I would have preferred if one of Paulo Oliveira or Edgar Ie got a call-up. Neither Renato Sanches nor Andre Gomes have been playing much football this season, so...

I agree with most of what has already been said. With regards to our center-backs, I would have preferred if one of Paulo Oliveira or Edgar Ie got a call-up. Neither Renato Sanches nor Andre Gomes have been playing much football this season, so I'm not sure if I understand their inclusion. Adrien is a key member of the Seleccao when fit, but he has yet to play a single minute of football for Leicester due to his ongoing transfer mess, so that exclusion is understandable. Pizzi has been far from his best in recent weeks, but at least he's been playing.

Bruma has shown flashes of quality for Leipzig, but has yet to establish himself as a regular starter. Guedes on the other hand has been superb for Valencia thus far, so his inclusion is certainly merited. Eder, barring injury to both Ronaldo and Andre Silva, isn't going to start against the Swiss, but he may got some minutes against Andorra. To be honest, we don't have many other options at the CF position at the moment.

Andorra is an easy opponent on paper, but they should still be taken seriously as nothing should be taken for granted at this point in the qualification phase. That being said, I still expect Fernando Santos to rest quite a few of his starters in that match to ensure that some key players remain fresh and ready to go for the Swiss. I wouldn't mind seeing an 11 consisting of: Patricio - Semedo, Fonte, Neto, Eliseu - William, Gomes, Quaresma, Gelson - Ronaldo, Guedes. I would prefer to see Antunes get the start against Switzerland, but Eliseu's status as one of the "regulars" will unfortunately give him the edge in such a crucial game.

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  1. Ivo

Whoever has been scouting Renato Sanches and identified “positive signs” must be blind. I watched Sanches’ games since joining Swansea and he has been a massive disappointment. And massive is not an understatement. He regularly gives the ball...

Whoever has been scouting Renato Sanches and identified “positive signs” must be blind. I watched Sanches’ games since joining Swansea and he has been a massive disappointment. And massive is not an understatement. He regularly gives the ball away and recall seeing one horrifying statistic that should he had something like the most turnovers in the premier league over a certain period. And those arent even turnovers resulting from him being put under a lot ifnpressure most of the time. His decision-making has just been poor and he has looked visibly frustrated with himself repeatedly. He doesn’t deserve a call-up.

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  1. Ivo

While I havent seen R.Semedo, Ie or Neto play this season, I can’t help but think that the game against Andorra would be a perfect opportunity for Santos to play Ie or some other younger CB. Yes we can’t take them lightly since three points are a...

While I havent seen R.Semedo, Ie or Neto play this season, I can’t help but think that the game against Andorra would be a perfect opportunity for Santos to play Ie or some other younger CB. Yes we can’t take them lightly since three points are a must, but surely playing alongside Pepe against very weak opposition would no be much of a risk. We needed to start playing our younger CBs about two years ago. Fonte has been poor this season as well as West Ham have been condensing a ridiculous number of goals. And whatever happened to Paulo Oliveira? He looked solid a few seasons ago at Sporting but has since moved on to Eibar. No idea how his season is going either.

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