Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is the banner. But at EURO 2020 Portugal is much more than just the goal machine. Yet the Golden Generation also shows one major flaw. A SWOT analysis of the opponent of the Red Devils.
Strengths: qualitatively the best generation ever
The opulence has never been so great. Cristiano Ronaldo has long since ceased to be the only one to keep an eye on for the European champions. Almost everyone agrees that this is the most talented Portugal ever.
To give you an idea: against France, Bruno Fernandes (15 goals and 12 assists at Manchester United), Joao Felix (champion with Atletico) and André Silva (28 goals at Frankfurt) started on the bench. Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva were preferred on the flanks.
In addition, Europe rediscovered Renato Sanches. The midfielder was once “The Next Big Thing”, but was never able to live up to expectations at Bayern Munich. Last year he was a strong holder in the champions team of Lille.
One row lower is Ruben Dias. The unyielding defender made a stunning impression at Manchester City in the Premier League. It has earned him a handful of individual awards – every defender knows how exceptional it takes to perform.
Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes started on the bench against France.
Weaknesses: vulnerable defense with no surplus
The wash is huge at the front, but remarkably thin at the back.
In fact, Ruben Dias, José Fonte and the indestructible Pepe (38 now) are the only central defenders in the Portuguese selection.
In addition, Nelson Semedo and Danilo Pereira, who were able to break in the back, were injured. It remains to be seen how serious their injuries are.
And not to forget: just before the European Championship started, Portugal lost its right back with Joao Cancelo. The Manchester City defender tested positive for the coronavirus.
In any case, the defense of Portugal is vulnerable. Germany already showed where the possibilities lie during the 4-2 win in the second group match.
Joachim Löw let his backs move high, so that the Portuguese backline was constantly undernumbered. It explained why Nelson Semedo could be so humiliated by the relatively unknown Robin Gosens.
Germany showed the Devils how to floor Portugal.
Whichever way you look at it, in Portugal everyone keeps looking at Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the surplus of talent, there is still a kind of Ronaldo “dependencia”.
So far, the Juventus phenom has accounted for 5 of the 7 goals his country has scored – 3 from the penalty spot. One more goal and he overtakes Ali Daei as the all-time record scorer in international football. Rest assured that Ronaldo will already want to reach the milestone against Belgium.
There were already fears in Portugal in advance that Ronaldo’s grip on this talented team would be too great. When the team is running well, that is an advantage. But if not… then Ronaldo threatens to become a wrong-way driver within his own team.
“The coach is currently failing to make the new golden generation click with Ronaldo,” a Portuguese journalist told us beforehand. “When he’s on the pitch, it seems like they’re not at their best themselves. They often choose to play the ball directly to Ronaldo.”
Ronaldo is the top scorer this European Championship with 5 goals.
Threats: the lightning-fast counters
A false sense of control. Against Germany (42%) and France (48%), Portugal deliberately gave the ball to the opponent. National coach Fernando Santos is therefore not afraid to fall back on a solid organization, despite the offensive power.
And then strike with lightning-fast counters. Portugal opened the score against Germany with a great counterattack. Via Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota and with Cristiano Ronaldo as the final station, it went from one side of the field to the other in 15 seconds.
If the Devils give away space on Sunday, Portugal will eagerly take advantage of it.
Portugal’s starting line-up against France: