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.”
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