- Title: VARIOUS: FOOTBALL/SOCCER - Portugal World Cup preview
- Date: 17th May 2010
- Summary: COIMBRA, PORTUGAL (MARCH 2, 2010) (REUTERS) PLAYERS ON TRAINING PITCH CRISTIANO RONALDO PORTUGAL COACH CARLOS QUEIROZ PLAYERS WARMING UP GOALKEEPERS TRAINING RONALDO RUNNING NANI RUNNING WIDE OF PLAYERS TRAINING DEFENDER RICARDO CARVALHO SIMAO SABROSA JOGGING
- Embargoed: 1st June 2010 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVABNKXQSHTB7NIBC4TPY27UH99O
- Story Text: Portugal's chances of success at the World Cup depend largely on the form of Cristiano Ronaldo but also on whether they can turn their stylish approach play into enough goals.
Matching their fourth place in Germany 2006 will be a tall order, particularly as the Portuguese -- often compared to the Brazilians because of their technical skills -- have been drawn in a tough group that includes Brazil.
Portugal must first play Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast and North Korea in Group G.
"Ivory Coast is considered to be the team from Africa most likely to get a great result at the World Cup," Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz told reporters. "For us, the first game (Ivory Coast) will be the decisive game in this campaign."
Ronaldo did not score or perform spectacularly in the qualifiers, but a strong debut season for Real Madrid and a desire to outshine Argentina's Lionel Messi may give the winger the impetus to reveal his best form.
Portugal's prospects will also depend on their other forwards leaving their goalscoring troubles behind in Europe. The side struggled in the early qualifiers, missing chance after chance, and had to produce a late surge to reach the finals.
Queiroz then brought in Brazil-born striker Liedson, who chipped in with two important goals. If he and/or Ronaldo hits form, with Nani, Simao and Deco providing the bullets, Portugal could be very hard to stop.
Portugal also have quality at the back even without injured right back Jose Bosingwa, but Pepe would be badly missed if he fails to recover from a knee injury.
Factbox: World Cup record: Previous appearances in finals: Four Best performance: 3rd place 1966 Coach: Carlos Queiroz Resigned as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United in July 2008 for a second stint as Portugal coach, having previously failed to qualify the side for the 1994 World Cup. Queiroz's tactics and selections attracted criticism during Portugal's poor start to qualifying, but a late surge ensured a berth at the finals and brought some relief.
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid). Winger. Born 5.2.1985 The world's most expensive player missed Portugal's last three qualifying matches through injury and did not score in any of the qualifiers before that, but will be a major threat if he can bring his profilic goalscoring, tricky runs and deadly free-kicks at club level to the national side again.
Liedson (Sporting). Forward. Born 17.12.1977 The Brazil-born striker scored a crucial equaliser against Denmark in September on his debut shortly after obtaining Portuguese nationality. A natural poacher, he could be the goalscorer Portugal needs.
Pepe (Real Madrid). Midfielder. Born 26.2.1983 Moved up by Queiroz to midfield from his normal defence spot at Real Madrid, Pepe improved with every match and now plays a key role protecting the back four, as seen in the playoff against Bosnia.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Braga), Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis), Beto (Porto).
Defenders: Miguel (Valencia), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Bruno Alves (Porto), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Duda (Malaga), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica).
Midfielders: Pedro Mendes (Sporting), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ze Castro (Deportivo Coruna), Tiago (Atletico Madrid), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Sporting).
Forwards: Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid), Danny (Zenit St Petersburg), Liedson (Sporting), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Manchester United).
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