The team: After a disappointing qualifying campaign in which they finished second to Russia, Portugal had to go through a nervy playoff against Sweden to reach Brazil 2014. In the end, they advanced 4-2 on aggregate with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring all four goals. It’s likely they’ll have to rely heavily on the Real Madrid forward again in Brazil, but there are worse players to call upon.
The coach: Paulo Bento
After winning a total of six trophies during his four years as coach of Sporting Lisbon, Paulo Bento was given the nickname ‘cup-eater’. He also led Sporting to a series of second place finishes in the Portuguese league and the knockout stages of the Champions League. As a former defensive midfielder, capped 35 times for the national team, it’s not surprising that his tactics can be rather unadventurous.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
As his virtuoso four-goal display over the two-leg playoff against Sweden showed, Cristiano Ronaldo is crucial for Portugal. If he’s on form, then he can single-handedly control a game. And considering how tough Group G looks on paper, he’ll certainly need to shine if Portugal are to have a chance of progressing.
World ranking: 3
World Cup appearances: 5
Previous best: Third place in 1966
Qualification: Second in group and playoff winner
Form (qualifiers): WWLDDWWWDWWW
Fixtures: June 16 vs. Germany; June 23 vs. USA; June 26 vs. Ghana