Portugal coach Fernando Santos admitted that the injury to FC Porto’s defensive midfielder, Danilo, has forced him to change his plans about the makeup of the squad that will be representing the Seleção at the Russia World Cup, starting on 14 June.

Santos yesterday gave a simultaneous interview to Portugal’s three daily sports papers, A BolaRecord and O Jogo, in which he revealed he had planned to take just three centre-backs to the tournament, opening up space for an extra midfielder.

The unavailability of Danilo, who could cover at centre-back, has scuppered that idea and probably ends the chances of Rony Lopes or Manuel Fernandes making the plane.

“We have no other player who can play as a midfielder or a centre-back, like Danilo could, so I’ll have to take eight defenders,” said Santos. “I was initially thinking of taking seven defenders, seven midfielders and six forwards, but now it will be 8-6-6.”

The logical conclusion is that Rúben Neves will be included in Danilo’s place, which is not a huge surprise given the season he produced at Wolves and the way he acquitted himself in the recent friendly against Egypt. Indeed, later in the interview Santos all but confirmed the youngster’s place in the squad by saying, “Rúben (Neves) is a strong contender to be in the 23-man squad, but he is not a clone of Danilo. This means I’ll have to leave somebody out who I was planning on taking.”

The centre-back position continues the subject of much debate among Seleção fans and in the media. Repeating his response to a question put to him by PortuGOAL in March, Santos reiterated that Benfica’s Jardel and Galatasaray’s Maicon, two Brazilian-born central defenders who have recently acquired Portuguese citizenship, would not be included. “Pepe and Deco made their Portugal debuts when they were still very young, which helped their integration. If Jardel and Maicon were 20 or 21 years old, maybe I would select them,” he explained.

The 63-year-old added that the fact Benfica centre-back Rúben Dias missed Portugal’s last set of friendlies does not rule him out of being on the plane to Moscow. “There is a high likelihood that there will be players in the 35-man pre-selected squad who have never played for Portugal. I don’t think that will be a surprise. I’m talking about players who have played for the youth teams but not the senior team yet.”

Santos admitted the lack of playing time of several players who were crucial during the triumphant Euro 2016 campaign is a concern: “João Mário, for example, was a long time without playing at Inter, but he’s playing more regularly at West Ham now, and it’s true that there are a lot of Seleção players who are not playing as frequently as I’d like.” However, the Seleção coach pointed out this negative is offset by the positive in terms of the emergence of fresh options. “There are several players who were not at the Euro and who are now in the running for the World Cup squad, such as Gelson, Bernardo Silva, André Silva and Gonçalo Guedes, who have come on a lot.”

Santos said he plans to announce the 23-man squad on 17 May, although it is possible the announcement will be put back until after the Portuguese Cup final (20 May). He added he will be repeating the method used ahead of Euro 2016 and will not be naming a larger squad before trimming it down. “I had the experience (as Greece manager) of calling up 25 players and then dropping two and it wasn’t good. For two or three days there was a gloomy, tense atmosphere. I’ll try to avoid this situation if possible.”

By Tom Kundert

 

Comments (25)

  1. mike

I just watched last weekend, valencia vs eibar....goncalo guedes....fantastic...but what was interesting was that both teams had portuguese centre backs and the high flying offensive game ended 0-0...vezo and oliveira were outstanding and im...

I just watched last weekend, valencia vs eibar....goncalo guedes....fantastic...but what was interesting was that both teams had portuguese centre backs and the high flying offensive game ended 0-0...vezo and oliveira were outstanding and im perplexed as how these two players have not even had a friendly....especially since they are playing in la liga on a top 4 team and the other a strong mid table team....and they are about 25 years old...I would be suprised if that match wasnt watched by Santos and his staff. For me comparing cbs and where they play and in what league and difficulty level...Vezo gets a call and ruben dias gets a call...Pepe of course...I would prefer the extra midfielder than another central defender.

I think the player that loses his spot is ruben neves actually...unless something drastic happens....Santos seems like hebprefers the russian based m. Fernandes and his experience.

My squad list barring more injuries:

Gk: rui patricio, b. Varela, anthony lopes

Central Defence: Pepe, Ruben Dias, Ruben Vezo, Neto

Right backs : ricardo pereira, n. Semedo

Left back: r. Guerreiro, fabio coentrao (if injuries then mario rui)

Central midfield: william, b. Fernandes, m. Fernandes, j. Moutinho, j. Mario

Attacking mid/wide: ricardo quaresma, b. Silva, g. Martins, goncalo guedes, bruma

Strikers: ronaldo, a. Silva

Thats 23 players. Santos 442 formation.

Keep in mind Danilo is injured, a. Gomes and cedric have had horrried seasons, r..neves, r. Lopes are young and will make the next set up for euro2020 if they keep it up and u do need some senior players in squad. Also, A. Silva isnt playing regularly for leicester and doesnt warrant a call up. Fonte and Alves are way past prime and too slow for what is looking like teams are going younger with lots of pace.

J. Mario gets that last mid spot because of his versatility to play anywhere in attack and partner in the mid...watched him for west ham...rarely ever gives the ball away even when their high pressing by othe team in the very fast epl...a handy tool when we need to keep the ball in matches and getting a special mention from santos makes me think he is there.

J. Moutinho is included for experience because he didnt play much in euro 2016 as he lost his place to renato sanches but with danilo gone i think he might come in handy...had renato sanches been where we thought he would be this year...moutinho would be out...i like m. Fernandes better if we need a goal.

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  1. Tony    mike

I agree with your roster with one exception. You have to take Ruben Neves over Bruma. Neves is a direct replacement for William. Bruma is surplus on the wings.

We all know Santos won't choose this squad though.
Make room for Bruno Alves, Andre...

I agree with your roster with one exception. You have to take Ruben Neves over Bruma. Neves is a direct replacement for William. Bruma is surplus on the wings.

We all know Santos won't choose this squad though.
Make room for Bruno Alves, Andre Gomes and Cedric. Barf

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  1. JoMomma

If Bruno Alves makes this team I'm punching a whole in my wall.

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  1. johnieoooooo

MY 23:

GK: Patricio, Lopes

I would only take 2 GK's, I have never seen a 3rd choice keeper having to be called into duty, waste of a spot in my opinion.

RB: Cedric, Semedo, R Perreira
LB: Guerreiro
CB: Pepe, Dias, Oliveira, Rolando

I would...

MY 23:

GK: Patricio, Lopes

I would only take 2 GK's, I have never seen a 3rd choice keeper having to be called into duty, waste of a spot in my opinion.

RB: Cedric, Semedo, R Perreira
LB: Guerreiro
CB: Pepe, Dias, Oliveira, Rolando

I would have Ricardo as my starter in RB with Guerreiro at LB, although if Guerreiro gets hurt which is a good possibility, I move Ricardo over to the left and bring on semedo or cedric to play the right side.

MF: William, J Mario, B Fernandes, Moutinho, Adrien, Neves

Neves replaces Danilo. Mario is versatile and is playing well now. Moutinho and Adrian on the plane because they are proven and should be called on when fielding a more defensive side.

FW: Ronaldo, Guedes, B Silva, Quaresma, Lopes, Gelson, Eder

The forwards with the best seasons, simple as that. Eder as he was an absolute beast when he came vs France, I stay loyal to him.....and I take him over A silva, solely based on what he did for Portugal.

STAYING HOME:
A Silva - brutal season, opportunist goal scorer.
Nani - Kills me to leave him at home, but ha d a brutal season, first reserve called in if any injuries to the FW's simply based on his experience.
M Fernandes - played well this year but always sloppy for the seleccao.
A Gomes - Should be first reserved called into duty if any injuries to Moutinho, Nevesm, William, or Adrien.
Bruma - good season, not as good as the others.
Beto - I would only take 2 GK's, the other 2 are better.
Sanches - hopefully he gets it together.

MY starting 11:
------------------Patricio---------------

Ricardo---Pepe---Dias--Guerreiro

-----------------William-----------------
Bernardo---Fernandes---Moutinho

----Ronaldo----------Guedes-------


2nd Option:
------------------Patricio---------------

Ricardo---Pepe---Dias--Guerreiro

A Silva-------William-----Moutinho

Bernardo----Ronaldo----Guedes

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  1. Danny DaSilva

JoMomma- save your hand, and wall. We both know Alves and Gomes are getting called up. Watch Gomes pull an Eder and score the game winner in the finals against Spain, lol. What would you all do if he actually did that?!!!

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  1. George

So, let me get this straight here: After over a year of some of us on this site arguing that Danilo should get time at CB in friendlies to address our defensive issues, and having to defend our positions against others who thought it was either...

So, let me get this straight here: After over a year of some of us on this site arguing that Danilo should get time at CB in friendlies to address our defensive issues, and having to defend our positions against others who thought it was either too late or too risky for Fernando Santos to experiment in that regard, his idea was to only take 3 injury-prone CBs - I'm assuming at least 2 of Pepe, Bruno Alves, Jose Fonte would be called upon and potentially all 3 - and throw Danilo into the fire if/when we need him...?!! This is all a moot point now obviously because of the injury, but I just fail to understand this logic at all. Even if you didn't want to convert Danilo into a CB completely for Portugal like I wanted to, at least giving him time back there in friendlies would give him a bit more experience and help develop partnerships. Turns out my position was more conservative than Santos'. Never in a million years would I have thought that. What a hard man to read...

I would've liked Santos to call up a few more players than the required 23 then make cuts later but I can appreciate where he's coming from and his explanation. As long as he calls an outsider up should injuries happen before the tournament, I'm ok with this approach.

In his interviews Santos also said that he's not indebted to anyone from the Euro '16 squad although he's grateful for all their hard work, so, I'm hoping and praying that he'll see the light and leave one of Fonte/Alves at home. At LEAST one; preferably BOTH. They've been dreadful this entire season and, again, there are other options in that position if Santos is open-minded enough to see them.

Paulo Oliveira, Pedro Mendes, Ruben Dias, Frederico Venancio, and Edgar Ie are all better options at this point in my opinion. If 2 of these 5 find themselves on the plane to Russia I'd be ecstatic.

Ie is a personal favourite of mine because of his attributes and versatility (ball-playing, fast defender who can play anywhere in the back-four sounds pretty good to me given our injury issues) but every time I've brought him up the "he's not experienced enough", or, "he hasn't had enough time at CB this season" argument comes up. After what Santos said about Danilo, I sincerely hope that isn't the case anymore. Besides, he's been playing CB more in recent weeks and doing pretty well in my opinion. He's a solid, potentially game-changing 4th option in my eyes.

I like the idea of Dias going as well because I see him as a young Pepe - tenacious, great in the air, vocal, etc. It just makes sense to me to include him and have him learn from Pepe first-hand. And I'm intrigued by the Oliveira option because I think he's criminally underrated, and he brings with him an element of already tapped chemistry as well. Remember he's a Sporting guy so he already has an understanding playing with Rui Patricio, Cedric, William, Joao Mario, Adrien, etc., depending on who Santos chooses and uses. So I like the idea of him as well.

Since you guys are doing it, I'll just give my 23 as well. Bear in mind I'm resigned to the fact of this not happening of course:

GK: Rui Patricio, Beto, Anthony Lopes
- FIFA requires you to take 3 I believe. Not that I'd only take 2. I think that's borderline suicide. These 3 are the best balanced option.

LB: Raphael Guerreiro, Fabio Coentrao
- Clearly our best LBs despite their fitness issues. My other DF selections make me more comfortable taking these 2.

RB: Cedric Soares, Ricardo Pereira
- Cedric hasn't been that good this year but, in all fairness, Southampton have been downright crap all over the pitch. He brings experience and usually plays well, especially defensively, for Portugal. Which is more than I can say for Joao Cancelo and Nelson Semedo. They both stay home and Ricardo Pereira is included. He is, by far, our best RB option. The fact that he's versatile and can easily slot in at LB as well should injuries happen at that position makes his inclusion a no-brainer in my opinion.

CB: Pepe, Oliveira, Dias, Ie
- Already gave reasons for these selections but it's worth repeating that Ie can provide cover for RB (should Ricardo be needed on the left for example) and LB (should disaster happen and Raphael, Fabio, and Ricardo all be unavailable to play).

DM: William Carvalho, Ruben Neves
- Neves is on the plane to Russia. Period. A clone of Danilo he's not - they're very different players - but William? I'd say the comparisons are valid. In fact I think Neves is the best of the 3, so, yeah, he's in my 23.

MFs: Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva
- Yes I include Bernardo as a midfielder because that's where I think he's at his best. Not as a winger. Not in a front-3. Not as a secondary striker. As a creative midfielder in the center of the pitch. Period. Portugal isn't Manchester City, we need players who can unlock defenses in the middle. Bernardo and Bruno are 2 of those players and neither has really been given much time for Portugal in the middle which is beyond me. If you want a more defensive midfield, then Mario and Moutinho can do that for you. Again - in the middle. No Joao Mario on the flanks. In the middle. He's another one who never gets played in his best position I feel like. Finally, Neves is balanced enough to give you another option, playing alongside William in the middle instead of replacing him. I'd use this option sparingly though, against the strongest opposition. Say, maybe against Spain in the very first game.

Ws: Gelson Martins, Gonçalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma, Diogo Jota
- Gelson has really stunk it up for Portugal BUT he's finally come into his own in recent games, often being one of our best players on the day. That's exciting news and warrants a place in Russia. Guedes is on the plane as well, as a winger, because that's where he's been effective for Valencia. Although he's a striker option as well, I feel like his pace and vision are kind of wasted up there, and feel like he's far more dangerous when he has more space to exploit on the flanks. Quaresma is the supersub who can ping accurate crosses in for CR7 all day long. He's another one who needs to be there. And Jota is my surprise inclusion because of his versatility. He can be another striking option as well, or be a creative midfielder, or, as I have him here - a winger. Ultimately, this was a decision between Jota, Rony Lopes, and Bruma and I chose Jota because he has the pace of a winger (unlike Lopes, who I don't have room for in the middle, and is probably my 24th name) and the finishing/decision-making that Bruma does not. So, in other words - he's a combination of the 2 who can also quite comfortably play up top. With that rationale I can't leave him at home. He's another player who I think could be a secret weapon if given the chance.

STs: Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva
- Do I really need to explain this one? Just look at their record in qualifying. I know Silva's struggled this year but AC Milan is an absolute mess. They've barely given him a chance at all, and, when they have, their lack of creativity has made it worthless. You surround him with creative, quick players, especially on the wings, and I think you can get unlock his potential. Which is why I'm hoping the rumours of him moving to Wolves are true.

Alright, that's all I have to say. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts per usual. Only 6 weeks until the World Cup guys! Vamos!!

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  1. Ash

I don’t care who goes as long as Bruno Alves and André Gomes stay home.
They’re terrible players having terrible seasons. Alves has lost his starting spot for Rangers due to a combination of terrible performances and injuries. If you want...

I don’t care who goes as long as Bruno Alves and André Gomes stay home.
They’re terrible players having terrible seasons. Alves has lost his starting spot for Rangers due to a combination of terrible performances and injuries. If you want experience Pepe and Fonte (wouldn’t mind him staying home either) are more then enough. We can’t expect Pepe to be available for every game. Injuries and suspensions happen. We need adequate back ups. Rúben Dias will be called up deservedly but Paulo Oliveira has had a great season as well. Hell, I’d argue he should be starting next to Pepe after the season he’s had. Edgar Ié is another who deserves to go. Wouldn’t mind Rúben Vezo or Pedro Mendes either as long as it’s not that massive liability Alves.



I think if there is a surprise call up, it will be Sérgio Oliveira for Adrién. Santos said there will be more than one player in the 35 list call up that have never been part of the A team. I think they will be Rúben Dias, Sérgio Oliveira, and Pedro Mendes.



Prediction of Santos 35 pre list:
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Anthony Lopes, Beto, Bruno Varela;
Defenders: Cédric Soares, Ricardo Pereira, Nélson Semedo, João Cancelo
Pepe, José Fonte, Rúben Dias, Bruno Alves, Edgar Ié, Pedro Mendes,
Raphaël Guerreiro, Mário Rui, Fábio Coentrão;
Midfielders: William Carvalho, Rúben Neves, Adrién Silva, João Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes, Sérgio Oliveira, João Mário, Manuel Fernandes, André Gomes;
Forwards: Bernardo Silva, Gelson Martins, Ricardo Quaresma, Gonçalo Guedes, Rony Lopes, Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva, Bruma, Nani;




My final 23:
GK: Rui Patrício, Anthony Lopes, Beto
RB: Cédric Soares, Ricardo Pereira
CB: Pepe, Paulo Oliveira, Rúben Dias, Edgar Ié
LB: Raphaël Guerreiro, Fábio Coentrão
DM: William Carvalho, Rúben Neves
CM: Sérgio Oliveira, João Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes
LM: João Mário, Gonçalo Guedes
RM: Bernardo Silva, Gelson Martins, Ricardo Quaresma
CF: Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva


We have to find a way to get the best out of Neves, Bruno Fernandes, and Guedes.after their outstanding season


--------------------------Rui Patrício------------------------------
Ricardo Pereira------Pepe------Paulo Oliveira------Raphaël Guerreiro
Bernardo Silva---William Carvalho---Rúben Neves---Gonçalo Guedes
-------------André Silva-----------------Cristiano Ronaldo----------



--------------------------Rui Patrício------------------------------
Cédric Soares-------Pepe-------Paulo Oliveira-------Raphaël Guerreiro
-------------------------William Carvalho----------------------------
Bernardo Silva----------Bruno Fernandes------------João Mário----
------------André Silva-----------------Cristiano Ronaldo----------

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  1. Danny

Call me an outlier but I want Gomes on the plane. He has ability, size, and IQ. The problem is that he has zero confidence. He reminds me of a guy that has had a longterm relationship with some girl who dominates his every movement. He cannot see...

Call me an outlier but I want Gomes on the plane. He has ability, size, and IQ. The problem is that he has zero confidence. He reminds me of a guy that has had a longterm relationship with some girl who dominates his every movement. He cannot see it himself but she is completely damaging his life. I am sure you have all seen this. The guy who never goes out with the boys because of you know who. Well, the only way to break him from her is by showing him how much fun he is missing. He needs to start having fun again. Maybe the World Cup and Santos can help with this.

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  1. Joao

Danny, the World Cup isn’t the place for players to sort out their mental and confidence problems. Gomes hasn’t done anything of worth for 2 years now. All he would be doing is taking the spot of a more deserving player who will actually help us....

Danny, the World Cup isn’t the place for players to sort out their mental and confidence problems. Gomes hasn’t done anything of worth for 2 years now. All he would be doing is taking the spot of a more deserving player who will actually help us. Having the summer off may help him have a clearer mind without distractions to sort out his future.

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  1. Lucas

When it comes to Gomes what good is his ability, size, and IQ if he hasn’t shown it for the last two seasons? Whenever Gomes is on the field for Barcelona it’s 99% certain he’ll be the worst rated player. It’s no different for Portugal. Leave him...

When it comes to Gomes what good is his ability, size, and IQ if he hasn’t shown it for the last two seasons? Whenever Gomes is on the field for Barcelona it’s 99% certain he’ll be the worst rated player. It’s no different for Portugal. Leave him home.

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  1. David

So Santos said he was planning on bringing 3 CBs since Danilo can play that position too. Does that mean he’s was going with Pepe, Fonte Alves? He couldn’t possibly be that dumb right? I really hope he was thinking of Pepe, Fonte, and Dias and...

So Santos said he was planning on bringing 3 CBs since Danilo can play that position too. Does that mean he’s was going with Pepe, Fonte Alves? He couldn’t possibly be that dumb right? I really hope he was thinking of Pepe, Fonte, and Dias and now has to bring in Mendes / Ié / Oliveira as the 4th option.

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