Portugal coach Fernando Santos has made wholesale changes in his first squad announcement since the disappointing World Cup campaign.
Tondela goalkeeper Cláudio Ramos, Montpellier defender Pedro Mendes, midfielders Gedson Fernandes (Benfica) and Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), and Monaco forward Rony Lopes are the new faces as the Seleção starts a new cycle. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo is left out of the squad while there are also noteworthy recalls for Rúben Neves, Renato Sanches, Bruma and Pizzi.
Portugal play a friendly against the beaten World Cup finalists Croatia in the Algarve on 6 September, followed by the Nations League opener against Italy in Lisbon on 10 September.
Santos explained that soon after Ronaldo had signed for Juventus the two of them spoke and decided the captain would miss the September games to aid his adaptation to his new surroundings in Italy. Other noteworthy absences are João Moutinho, Ricardo Quaresma, José Fonte, João Mário and Adrien Silva, all of whom had significant playing time in Russia.
“This is a new cycle, and we want to prepare well for the defence of our European title,” said Santos. “That’s why we chose a strong opponent in Croatia.
“As for the Nations League, as it is an official trophy, we will enter it with the intention of winning it, taking it as seriously as any other competition, just like we did at the Confederations Cup, for example.”
by Tom Kundert
Goalkeepers: Beto (Goztepe), Cláudio Ramos (Tondela), Rui Patrício (Wolves)
Defenders: Cédric Soares (Southampton), João Cancelo (Juventus), Luis Neto (Zenit), Mário Rui (Napoli), Pedro Mendes (Montpellier), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund), Rúben Dias (Benfica)
Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Gedson Fernandes (Benfica), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Betis)
Forwards: André Silva (Sevilla), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruma (Leipzig), Gelson Martins (Atletico Madrid), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Rony Lopes (Monaco)