Now that Paulo Bento has chosen his 23, we take a quick look at each one of them one by one.
Rui Pedro dos Santos Patricio
Club: Sporting CP
Patricio comes into camp having had a career year for Sporting . He allowed 24 goals in 31 games in all competitions, a career best. The Leiria native was Paulo Bento’s number one choice for all of the Portugal’s qualifying campaign, and despite having tough competition from Beto, Patricio should remain the man behind the sticks for Portugal.
Antonio Alberto Bastos Pimparel (Beto)
Club: Sevilla FC
Fresh off Sevilla’s Europa League title, Beto is Portugal’s eldest member, and least capped goalkeeper. He has spent most of his career as a number two, even at the national team level, but his recent emergence as a number one in Spain sees him reach camp at the highest point of his career, and ready to challenge Rui Patricio
Eduardo dos Reis Carvalho
Club: SC Braga (Genoa)
Eduardo had a quiet, but consistent year for Braga, and while Beto and Patricio knew their names would be on the list to Brazil, the Genoa owned Eduardo was hoping he could edge out youngster Anthony Lopes for the third a final goaltender spot. Eduardo is not only the most capped goalkeeper of the group, he also started in all of Portugal’s World Cup games in South Africa 4 years ago, coincidentally Beto was his back up.
Andre Gomes Magalhaes de Almeida
Club: SL Benfica
Almeida was far from being an undisputed starter for Portuguese Champions Benfica , but was crucial in the final stretch of the season as Benfica took advantage of his flexibility to keep their squad fresh. His versatility was likely one of the deciding factors for the inclusion in Paulo Bento’s list, as he can play right back, left back, as well as holding midfielder all at a competent proficiency level.
Bruno Eduardo Regufe Alves
Born of a Brazilian father and a Portuguese mother, Alves has been a staple in the Portuguese defense, along side Pepe, for quite a few years. Known for his “hard man” style, Alves and Pepe are perhaps one of the most feared center defensive tandems at the World Cup. His ties to Brazil and football pedigree run deep, as his uncle Geraldo – along side Zico – was one of the most promising young players of early seventies Flamengo before his career was cut short at the age of the 22 following cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure.
Fabio Alexandre Silva Coentrao
Club: Real Madrid CF
With his third season at Real Madrid complete, Coentrao is no longer living with the pressure of proving he was worth every penny of his costly signing. Despite sharing minutes with Marcelo, Coentrao is one of the premiere left backs in the game, and is one of Portugal’s difference makers this summer. Just like Pepe and Ronaldo, Coentrao comes into camp on a high after winning the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid.
Joao Pedro da Silva Pereira
Club: Valencia CF
The consistent, but sometimes temperamental Pereira, had a good year for Valencia, going deep into Europa League competition and having a decent year domestically for Valencia. Much like his opposite side teammate, he will have to bring the defensive consistency he’s known for, along with his attacking ability to be part of Portugal’s forays into opposite territory.
Luis Carlos Novo Neto
Club: Zenit St Petersburg
Once an unknown making a big jump from a mid table Portuguese club to Italy’s Sienna, Neto quickly started making a name for himself in Italy, and was signed by Russian millionaires Zenit St Petersburg. With two seasons in Russia under his belt, Neto brings a silky smooth style to Portugal’s central defensive sector a clear contrast to Alves and Pepe.
Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira (Pepe)
Club: Real Madrid CF
As one of the World Cup’s top 5 center backs, Pepe will have to keep his emotions in check, and his head in its rightful place if he is to have a good World Cup. Returning to his birth nation to play for the country he has proclaimed to have been the one he owes his footballing career to, it will be a special and emotional World Cup for Pepe.
Ricardo Miguel Moreira da Costa
Club: Valencia CF
Portugal’s senior man, will enter his third World Cup, a feat matched only by Cristiano Ronaldo, and Helder Postiga. His cap count may be misleading, but Costa has been an important piece of Paulo Bento’s set ups, not only for his experience, but also for his work ethic and willingness to give it all for the team. The Valencia captain may not be on top of the center back pecking order, but is looked at as an important fixture in Portugal’s locker room as his leadership skills, and is unwavering commitment to the national team are second to none.
Joao Filipe Iria Santos Moutinho
Perhaps the most underrated player for Portugal, Moutinho could easily start for most of Europe’s top teams, and many argue his talent is going to waste in Ligue 1. Moutinho’s importance in Portugal’s game is often overlooked for Ronaldo’s speed and talent, but next to Ronaldo, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more influential to this Portuguese team than Moutinho
Miguel Luis Pinto Veloso
Club: Dynamo Kiev
Now plying his craft in the lesser known Ukranian league, Veloso was once a budding Sporting academy product who was handed his senior club football debut by Paulo Bento – Sporting’s coach at the time. Their mutual familiarity, allows Veloso to have a deep understanding of Portugal’s system, and Bento’s ideas, making him one of Bento’s most trusted men.
Raul Jose Trindade Meireles
Meireles’ physical appearance may make him one of the easiest players to spot on the pitch, but it’s the work he does in Portugal’s midfield that sometimes goes unnoticed. After spending 3 seasons in England with both Liverpool and Chelsea, Meireles has settled in Turkey, helping Fenerbahce to their 19th Turkish title this past season.
Ruben Filipe Marques Amorim
Club: SL Benfica
Amorim is perhaps Portugal’s most versatile midfielder. With the ability of being able to play in all 3 positions in Bento’s midfield triangle, and still be able to drop down to the right back position, Amorim was a hard player to pass up. He may not figure in Bento’s starting eleven when Portugal takes the field against Germany, but Amorim will prove a valuable asset for Bento as a role player in multitude of situations
William Silva de Carvalho
Club: Sporting CP
You may have never heard of William Carvalho, but there’s a big chance that after this tournament you will know his name. Carvalho exploded in Portugal this year for Sporting, and is poised to be one of the biggest transfers out of Portugal this summer. Carvalho’s skill set, and ability, make him a prime candidate to break up the Veloso-Moutinho-Meireles midfield trio Bento has has relied on for all of Portugal’s qualification campaign. He is one Portugal’s players to watch in this tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Club: Real Madrid CF
Current FIFA World player of the year, needs no introduction. As one of this World Cup’s center pieces, and Portugal’s hope for a successful tournament, Ronaldo’s fitness remains the biggest talking point surrounding the Selecao. Ronaldo has had another career year for Real Madrid, winning the elusive tenth Champions League trophy for the Merengues, while establishing a new goal scoring record in the competition, but reaches the end of the season hampered by injury. The Portuguese Federation has hired one of Real Madrid’s physio’s in an effort to bring Ronaldo to full strength before Portugal’s inaugural game.
Ederzito Antonio Macedo Lopes (Eder)
Club: SC Braga
The Braga forward had a year marked by injuries and little goal output, a pale comparison to the year before when he scored 13 goals in 18 games for Braga, and ultimately earned him his first cap. While Postiga excels in combination play, and Almeida in physical presence in the box, Eder brings speed as well as combination play to the Portuguese forward position albeit little international experience in comparison to the other two Portugal forwards. He can be one of Portugal’s surprises for this tournament.
Helder Manuel Marques Postiga
Club: Lazio SC
Postiga comes into camp as Portugal’s most experienced forward, having been a member of Portugal’s Euro 2004, and 2008 campaigns as well as the 2006 and 2012 World Cups. Postiga split this past season between Valencia and Lazio, and while his time in Spain saw him score a handful of goals, his time in Italy was spent mostly in the physio’s room. At 31, this may very well be Postiga’s curtain call, and a last chance of making a name for himself at a National team level.
Hugo Miguel Pereira Almeida
Portugal’s “power forward” finished the season in Turkey with 15 goals in 33 games. Almeida has never been a consensual choice for fans, but with Portugal’s severe lack of a world class forward, and the options being very slim, Almeida has found himself as a viable alternative despite his technical shortcomings. Nonetheless, what Almeida lacks in technical ability, he makes up for with physicality and work rate.
Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha (Nani)
Club: Manchester United
Nani has had the worst year of his career, starting a minuscule 9 games for the Red Devils. Injured for the majority of the season, Nani’s current condition continues to be a big enigma, but if he has gotten past the injuries, his lack of games played this season could mean he will be Portugal’s “freshest” player. The wingers’ talent has never been up for the debate, even though Nani can hit both ends of the performance spectrum, the biggest questions continue to be which Nani will show up for this tournament, and are his nagging injuries behind him.
Rafael Alexandre Fernandes Ferreira Silva (Rafa)
Club: SC Braga
Portugal’s youngest member and perhaps biggest surprise of the the 23 man roster, had a breakout year for Braga, until an injury (during his first international debut) kept him out of action for a month and a half. The injury took some steam off of Rafa’s breakout year, but apparently Paulo Bento had seen enough to call up the youngster. Capable of playing both as a winger, and as an attacking midfielder, Rafa brings versatility and creativeness to the attacking mid a sector, an area where Portugal is lacking in.
Silvestre Manuel Goncalves Varela
Club: FC Porto
Varela has emerged has Portugal’s third best winger, his consistency at Porto for the past two seasons often carries into the national team. Although not as technically gifted as Nani, and usually a third winger choice for Bento, he could see himself snatching a starting spot ahead of both Nani and Vieirinha, who were plagued by injuries this past season.
Club: Vfl Wolfsburg
Victim of serious ACL injury this past September, Vierinha confessed he was surprised to feature in Paulo Bento’s 23. He made his “A” debut against Israel last March, and featured in Bento’s next 5 consecutive call ups, 4 of which as a starter. His return to full action for Wolfsburg this past April, was very good news for Portugal, and Bento didn’t hesitate to put his name on the call up sheet.
Portugal started their World Cup preparations this past Wednesday in the seaside town of Cascais, and will move their camp to their habitual headquarters in Obidos this Monday the 26th. Ronaldo, Pepe, and Fabio Coentrao will join the rest of the team this Thursday the 29th.
Portugal’s first warm-up game will take place this Saturday, May 31st against Greece, after which the team will travel to the U.S. where they will make their final preparations for the World Cup. While in American soil, Portugal will have two more warm-ups – against Mexico in Boston on June 6th, and against the Republic of Ireland in East Rutherford on June 10th. Departure to Brazil is scheduled for the evening following the game against the Republic of Ireland.