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#Brazinga2014 - World Cup Team Profile - Portugal

Thursday, 26 June 2014 - 8:01pm IST Updated: Thursday, 26 June 2014 - 8:03pm IST | Agency: AFP

The Dark Horses in the tournament are desperate for a win after their 0-4 humiliation by Germany

Portugal went down 0-4 to Germany in their opening match. With Cristiano Ronaldo probably out with an injury, the task gets a bit difficult for Portugal against the USA, even though they are firm favourites to win.

Eventually though, assuming Portugal brush aside USA, a lot will come down to Ronaldo's performance in the later games, and the Real Madrid striker showed his ability in the play-off with Sweden scoring four exceptional goals in the 1-0, 3-2 (4-2 on aggregate) win over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's side.

Prior to that Ronaldo had scored eight of their 20 group goals, and more worryingly, picked up five yellow cards in 10 outings. This is the eighth consecutive qualification for an international tournament for Portugal and Paolo Bento's charges only fell on a penalty shoot-out to Spain in the semis at Euro 2012 after a thrilling and tight encounter.
Portugal also lost to Spain (1-0) in the second round out in South Africa four years ago.

Quality in the ranks

This time out the first round is no picnic for Portugal who face Germany, Ghana and the United States, all of whom made the knock out phase last time out.

Paolo Bento says his team are seeking to make the knock out phase at the very least and refuses to accept an accusation of overreliance on Ronaldo, who he describes as having a determining influence because of his tactical awareness, technical ability and physical strength.

In goal, 'keeper Rui Patricio won rave reviews at Euro 2012 when still just 24-years-old and has maintained the standard with Sporting Portugal ever since.

Portugal may lack depth in their defensive options but they do possess Real Madrid defenders Pepe and Fabio Coentrao. Pepe is a feared and commanding central defender capable of playing on the right of defence or in midfield, while Coentrao is close to his captain and also has great tactical awareness. Giant defender Bruno Alves is no slouch either and scored four times in qualifying.

In midfield another man close to Ronaldo is the blossoming Joao Moutinho of AS Monaco, who is flanked by the dependable Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev) and the battling Raul Meireles of Fenerbahce.

In attack Valencia's centre-forward Helder Postiga, who bagged six goals in qualifying, usually gets the nod while Manchester United's gifted winger Nani makes up the trident with Ronaldo.

Portugal have a history of outstanding players with Eusebio and Luis Figo. While getting within touching distance, neither of these two carried Portugal to a title. Ronaldo too may fall short, but as with his illustrious predecessors, he'll leave it all out on the pitch.

Country Profile:

Population: 11 Million

Area: 92,000 km2

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro

Federation: Federaçao Portuguesa de Futebol, created in 1914, affiliated to FIFA in 1923.

Registered players: 132, 734

Colours:  All claret with green trim

World Cup appearances: 6 (1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)

World Cup record: Third-place (1966), fourth-place (2006), second round (2010) first round (1986, 2002)

European Championship appearances: 6 (1984, 1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2012)

European Championships: Finalist (2004), semi-finals (1984, 1992, 2012), quarter-finals (1996, 2008)

How they qualified: Finished second in Group F with 21 points behind Russia on 22pts and ahead of Israel 14, AZerbaijan 9, Northern Ireland 7 and Luxemburg 6 with 6 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat 20 goals for and 9 against - then beat Sweden 1-0 and 3-2 (4-2) in the play-offs.

Top clubs: Porto, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon

Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Nani, Joao Moutinho

Coach: Paulo Bento (since September 2010)

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