Previewing Fernando Santos’ Portugal Side For The World Cup 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Portugal are always favourites heading into any international competition.

Despite a huge doubt over recent performances going into the World Cup, Portugal are still huge favorites to lift the coveted trophy for the very first time come December.

Pressure is mounting on Fernando Santos to finally deliver given the quality he possesses for the trip to Qatar. Despite the upheaval, Santos’s optimism heading into the tournament seems as high as ever.

Winning Euro with a pretty weak squad granted Fernando Santos an iconic status in Portuguese football history but recent results have cast a major doubt over his future.

Moreover, with this being star player Cristiano Ronaldo’s final international campaign, expectations are through the roof.

Here’s the 26-man squad that have made the trip to Qatar:

Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa, Rui Patricio, Jose Sa

Fernando Santos will be having a major selection headache with both Costa and Patricio impressing in their respective leagues.

The former has been linked with a move to Manchester United after impressing in the Champions League whilst the latter has been relied upon by Jose Mourinho in Italy.

Jose Sa despite not having the best of seasons will be making the trip to Qatar as the backup. It’s really strange considering he was linked with big money moves previously.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Joao Cancelo, Nuno Mendes, Ruben Dias, Antonio Silva, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira

Portugal have been blessed with a well-balanced defence this time around. Dalot has been one of the key players at Manchester United, having started almost every game for the Red Devils.

Joao Cancelo is going through a rough run of form but is still a key player going into the World Cup.

Ruben Dias, Danilo Pereira and Raphael Guerreiro have been exceptional in their respective leagues and will most likely be starting in the opening game against Ghana.

Pepe may be struggling physically but this being his final international tournament, will be hoping to contribute.

A surprise element here is Antonio Silva, who has impressed scouts all over the world with Benfica and will certainly be a player to keep an eye out for.

Midfielders: William Carvalho, Joao Mario, Otavio, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Palhinha, Ruben Neves, Matheus Nunes, Vitinha

Yet another department where Portugal possesses a lot of strength and depth going into their opening game. Joao Mario, William Carvalho and Joao Palhinha are to everyone’s surprise having amazing seasons with their respective clubs and will be key players for Santos in this tournament.

Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva have had decent seasons but will hope to shut the critics up with their performances in the World Cup.

A key player for Fernando Santos is none other than Vitinha. The 22-year-old has been one of the first names on the team sheet for PSG.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Ricardo Horta, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Goncalo Ramos

With Ronaldo’s current form, Portuguese fans should be rightly concerned about their chances. Andre Silva and Goncalo Ramos have been immense this season for their respective clubs and are the best possible backups to the Portuguese icon.

Rafael Leao has been linked with moves to Chelsea and Real Madrid and will most likely be the first name on the team sheet. SC Braga star Ricardo Horta is yet another option for Santos to consider on the wings.

Joao Felix is a confusing one here. The Atletico forward has been pretty underwhelming since his big money switch to the Spanish capital but will most likely be a key player for Santos going into the tournament.


Fernando Santos prefers using the 4-3-3 formation, however they are known to change shape during games in which they take the lead so that they can play on the counter instead.

Many have labelled them as a Jekyll and Hyde team, capable of playing some brilliant attacking football.

However, they are also pretty notorious for retreating in fear of conceding and making defensive errors.

Portugal find themselves in Group H with Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea which is undoubtedly the most challenging group of the tournament.

Uruguay have beaten the Portuguese previously in the World Cup and will most likely be the team to watch for Santos.

It seems inevitable that Qatar 2022 will be written in the history books of Portuguese football only under ‘Ronaldo’s last World Cup’.

Next. Manchester United part ways with Cristiano Ronaldo. dark

Winning the World Cup would be the perfect send-off for Ronaldo and for Fernando Santos, it will legitimize his status as one of the great managerial minds of the game.