Portugal’s World Cup campaign came to an end in Sochi tonight as they were beaten by a brilliant brace from Uruguayan centre-forward Edinson Cavani.

An improved performance perhaps deserved better. Pepe was again excellent, and a tactical switch by Fernando Santos at half time perhaps points the way for Portugal going forward, Bernardo Silva proving far more effective when moved into the middle, and looking Portugal’s most likely route back into the game.

On the downside Gonçalo Guedes and Ricardo Pereira had nights to forget, while two stars of Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph two years ago, João Mário and Raphaël Guerreiro, completed a below-par World Cup with another disappointing match.

Tom Kundert gives his Portugal player ratings versus Uruguay for ESPNFC – click here to read them.

 

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While I’ve been wanting to see Pereira play for some time, I don’t think bringing him into the squad for the first time in a knockout game was a good choice by Santos. He should’ve given him some run against Iran or Morocco or better yet more...

While I’ve been wanting to see Pereira play for some time, I don’t think bringing him into the squad for the first time in a knockout game was a good choice by Santos. He should’ve given him some run against Iran or Morocco or better yet more friendly time and try to gauge his performance that way. I don’t think throwing him into the fire in our most difficult match was a wise choice. Easy to say in hindsight of course but I had come to appreciate more and more the stability our back line was showing with Cedric in it and was very surprised with Santos’ call.

As for Santos I have mixed feelings about sticking with him. We cannot forget what he did for us in the Euro and for all his faults he has shown that he will give youth a chance and is not afraid of dropping out of form players. But it’s tough to feel like we’re getting the most out of our more creative players like Bernardo and Guedes. And we know Portugal capable of playing more enticing football. The potential downside of course is that we go back to being the beautiful losers haha. But if were going to be knocked out in the first knockout stage, I’d have preferred to see some glorious attacking football. It’s a game of fine margins though and we were on the wrong end of some well taken goals by a world class striker. Had Bernardo put that shot away, maybe we’d still be in the tournament. No shame in that. Now we need to rebuild and hope our promising young talents pan out, with it without Santos.

The striker position continues to be an issue thoguh. Guedes got us all worked up in the friendly where he bagged two goals but he doesn’t seem dependable in that position. This leaves us with Andre Silva who needs to improve significantly at club level. And who knows maybe someone like Rafael Leao will burst onto the scene in the coming years. Here’s hoping.

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"Bernardo Silva was incredible."

Pep Guardiola
(Manchester City coach praises Portugal midfielder after a masterclass against Manchester United)

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