Portugal’s 2022 World Cup squad is now known and it’s no surprise that some of Fernando Santos’ talented coaches are well known.
For more than 10 years, the global understanding of the Portuguese men’s national team has been Cristiano Ronaldo and 10 others. It seems that Qatar 2022 is bound to go down in Portuguese football history as part of “Ronaldo’s last World Cup”.
That is, unless director Fernando Santos is able to do things that have so far eluded him and turn an amazing crop of individual talents into a coherent functional unit. Perfect World Cup coverage for CR7 depends on the people around you.
Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao and Joao Felix were all unavailable at the time and went on to impress on club football’s biggest stages. But when these players are in a Portuguese shirt, such brilliant performances stand out in their absence. However, They all seem to be falling to the life-saving presence of Ronaldo – and Fernandes will have to deal with that for club and country – and that’s not good.
After poor eliminations in the last 16 of the last two tournaments and a difficult qualifying campaign that required Portugal to enter the play-offs to qualify for the World Cup, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th-minute winner in Lisbon brought Serbia into the head of their group. Furthermore, Criticism of experienced managers has increased. The rosy glow of a Euro 2016 victory was dimmed as conservative born manager Santos looked unable to get the most out of his talented squad. Meanwhile, the worries of traditionally pessimistic Portuguese fans only grew after three teams of heroes came together to relive painful World Cup memories.
Korea, Ghana and Uruguay were Portugal’s last opponents at the 2002, 2014 and 2018 World Cups respectively. Ironically, if Portugal thrive in the Middle East, it may not be because of the contributions of Cristiano Ronaldo, the greatest player in history, or Santos, who won them their only major trophy. Bernardo Silva is undoubtedly an indispensable player, and 2022 could be a memorable year for Portugal if either Jota, Leao or Felix (last two on the bench, Toto Schillaci style) light the fire.