Five years after defying their odds of 20/1 to be crowned kings of Europe, Portugal head into Euro 2020 looking to prove their doubters wrong once again.
The difference between this side and the one that defeated France in that memorable 2016 final? Cristiano Ronaldo was very much the main man five years ago, whereas the current Portugal outfit can call upon world class talent from top to bottom.
Ronaldo heads up a frightening attacking force made up of the likes of Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, Atletico Madrid’s João Félix and Andre Silva of Eintracht Frankfurt.
In Silva, they have a striker in their ranks who scored more Bundesliga goals this season than the formidable Erling Haaland, eventually finishing second only to Robert Lewandowski in the top scorer charts.
In midfield, Pedro Goncalves, coming off the back of scoring 23 goals in 32 Sporting Lisbon appearances this season, is being described as the “next Bruno Fernandes” and will be desperate to make an impact after receiving his first call up.
Oh, and then there is the actual Bruno Fernandes. He needs no introduction to English football fans, and the idea of the Manchester United star providing assists to Ronaldo has the makings of a formidable partnership.
Bernardo Silva, fresh off lifting the Premier League and reaching the Champions League final with Manchester City, isn’t bad at picking a pass himself. The defences of France, Germany and Hungary won’t be looking forward to going up against this Selecao side with Group F looking the most difficult to progress from.
The City connection continues into defence with Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo set to play starring roles for Fernando Santos’ outfit. Dias, who won the Football Writers’ Association award back in May, has been a revelation since his arrival at the Etihad and has been central to Pep Guardiola’s men winning the league by 12 points.
He’ll likely partner the more experienced Jose Fonte in the heart of the Portugal defence, with Dias’ ability to defend on the front foot the perfect match for Fonte’s preference to sit behind and mop up. Rui Patricio brings additional Premier League experience in the sticks, with the Wolves stopper conceding just six goals in eight qualifying games.
In Santos, Portugal have a coach who has undoubted pedigree at this level, after all, he was the man who lead them to glory in Euro 2016. He has since won the 2019 Nations League, and even took Greece to the quarter-final stage of Euro 2012 as well as the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup. The 66-year-old evidently knows how to set up a side to go far in a major tournament, and has never entered a championship with this calibre of players at his disposal.
Betfred make Portugal the 8/1 joint-fifth favourites to defend their title, while Ronaldo is the third-favourite for the golden boot at 9/1. Like the sound of both of them rolling in as Portugal shake up the continent once again? The Portugal winner and Ronaldo top scorer double is available at a whopping 40/1.
If Eder, who has netted once in 15 appearances for the national side since, can score the goal to see them crowned the best country in Europe, imagine what this current crop can manage.
They’ll need to beat a stubborn Hungary outfit in their opener before two crunch clashes with Germany and France, but if Portugal can make it through to the knockout stages, history proves that they can’t be written off.
Gareth Southgate’s England will be desperate to avoid them in the round of 16, with Ronaldo and Portugal knocking the Three Lions out on penalties in both the 2004 Euros and the 2006 World Cup.