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Friday, 20 June 2014 11:24

Portugal: The truth behind the numbers

Will Sunday bring some much-needed good news?

images_3.jpgThe Euros that saw "football coming home" to England in 1996 marked a revolution for Portuguese football. After that tournament, Portugal were present at every major competition with the exception of the 1998 World Cup in France (the start of a trend), with the Golden Generation taking centre stage.


The nearly twenty years that followed have seen Portugal progress to two semi-finals and one final, which led many to believe the side would finally be able to be a member of the elite club of European powerhouses. Boasting one of the world's two best players in Cristiano Ronaldo certainly didn't hurt matters; the future looked rosy.
 

Those dreaded World Cups

Telegraph.co.uk.jpg
What those handpicked stats hide is that Portugal are usually terrible when it comes to World Cups. In 1986, Portugal defeated England 1-0 (the start of another trend) but crashed out after losing to Poland and Morocco, amidst disputes over bonuses and scandals involving prostitution. The tournament yielded bruised egos, one fired coach and a few banned players. In 2002, there were again squabbles over monetary compensation, poor managingchoices and seemingly endless shopping sprees (besides defeats against South Korea and the United States). The tournament yielded bruised egos, one fired coach and a few banned players.
 
Only in 2006 did Portugal show up and manage to actually look good (the fact that the competition was played on European soil should not be deemed a random factor), reaching the semi-finals. However, it should be noted that the two opponents Portugal overcame to play Germany in the semi-finals were England and the Netherlands, the only two top teams Portugal have consistently beaten over the past 20 years. Against Germany, France, Spain or Italy, the track record is less than impressive.
 
 

Those happy Euros

One of the unheralded advantages of Euros is that if one team qualifies from the group stages, they immediately earn bragging rights about reaching a competition's quarter-finals. If the draw is favourable on top of that, players, coaches and directors (as well as supporters) might even go as far as saying that they've reached the semis.
 
In 1996, Portugal were eliminated by Karel Poborsky's (who would later play for Benfica) expertly taken lob in the quarter-finals. For a nation that had remained absent from tournament finals for so long, it was an honourable display. In 2000, the feared France put the Portuguese out of the tournament at the semi-finals with the penalty that spurred so much controversy throughout the nation (Turkey were the quarter-final opponents).
 
219202.jpg
The 2004 history is well known, of course, but it hides the fact that the opponents that Portugal defeated were precisely England and the Netherlands - the two teams that have become as close to automatic knock-out wins as possible for the Portuguese side. In 2008, Portugal crashed out against Germany (no coincidences there, then) in the quarter-finals and 2012 saw them being eliminated in the semis via penalty shoot-out at the hands - and feet - of Spain. The team the Portuguese had beaten to reach the semi-finals was the Czech Republic.
 


Conclusion

While history might be cast aside as a mere collection of facts, it might help us shed some light on a few tendencies. In this particular case, it seems to show that Portugal fare rather well on European soil (whether it is the Euros or World Cups) and less well on other continents. It also reveals that, contrary to popular belief - and the 3-0 win against Germany back in 2000 notwithstanding - Portugal have consistently failed to punch above their weight and that their best results are usually linked with favourable draws. Will Sunday signal a change of fortunes?


By Vasco Mota Pereira

 
Comments (35)
Nice article, even better comments
35 Sunday, 29 June 2014 22:44
Rosario/Netherlands
Have been a Portugal fan since 2004 and it's those matches like the 2-2 against England with the penalty thriller at the end and Ricardo's sealing goal that just warmed the heart and sealed my loyalty for good.

Some great comments here I hadn't even considered yet, especially regarding losses to legendary French and Spanish elevens! So far I had only concluded that Portugal end up losing to eventual finalists:
EC2012: Spain (won the tournament)
WC2010: Spain (won the tournament)
EC2008: Germany (lost finals to Spain)
WC2006: France (lost finals to Italy)
EC2000: France (won the tournament)
EC1996: Czech Republic (lost finals to Germany)
EC1984: France (won the tournament)
WC1966: England (won the tournament)

Also, have you guys strolled through Portugal's match record on FIFA? Ever noticed how often they take the lead at half-time and end up losing or drawing afterwards? I don't know if it's because of a consistently weak defence or Portugal growing to complacent too fast but they should work on that.

I hope a new generation will be forged in the coming four years, I really think Portugal have the potential to claim a few Cups in the next 10 years. But they'll have to work hard. Once Cristiano Ronaldo retires, they will be forced to assemble a real 11-man team rather than the 1-man miracle hope it's been about for 6 years now...

Forca!!
Realistic but show support
34 Sunday, 22 June 2014 11:49
John / Australia
Has Portugal fought above its weight the answer is yes...in terms of the major footballing countries...considering our population. However, the team in the last 15 years have performed well and at times have under performed with some of the talent we have had. The Portuguese- let me say some are so pessimistic and so negative that it's bull s#}t. Yes, I to get disappointed when we loose and may get negative to...however just support your team.

This tournament started off so badly from our preparation of experimenting with our formations, being the last team to arrive in Brazil, team selection and Ronaldo' s fitness.

All that aside, let' s get behind this team and hope they take it to the Americans and at least get into the next round.

One last thing.... Apart from sporting.......how about the clubs giving the young portuguese players more game time and experience so we can produce the next group of players.....instead of making the South Americans stronger.....then we argue why our depth isn't deep.

Forca Portugallo
The Data Tells Us Something
33 Sunday, 22 June 2014 06:04
Tony, CA
First, I am not the Tony in Turklock, Ca. I am the first Tony, in Ca who has posted on this sight for about 10 years. The critical and realist voice.

This article pretty much says what I think, have been saying, and would be posting.

1) The facts shows that the big countries win the big tournaments with exception like Uruguay about 60-70 years ago and Greece in 2004.

2) Portugal has to their credit has made some good runs and they do better with favorable draws like England and the Dutch

3) Portugal competes well against the big sides but usually comes up short. The reality in my mind is not that the Portuguese have a losing mentality or don't try hard enough like many will claim. The other teams have a bit more quality.
Portugal does not have a large enough pool of players to yield enough world class players at every position.

4) I am sure many will disagree but take the striker position, Portugal lacks the cutting edge to win against these teams. History shows that we struggle to score against top sides, that is lack of quality finishers.

5) We typically will be very strong at 5-6 positions but there is usually one-two spots that we are weak in that other teams expose. Take the striker position as mentioned that is a given, we will lack good DM (e.g Petit destroyed in Euro 2008, or a fullback (e.g. Paulo Ferriera destroyed by Germans 2008), US exposes Portugal backline in 2002, etc. This may sound harsh but a reality, it does not mean we can not compete which we do with great effort and ambition. We typically just come up a bit short.

6) I have lamented on the site for years the lack of world class players Portugal has in the 24-29 years old range which is the peak of a players career. The CR generation started in 2004 in my mind has failed to produce many great players with the exception of the great CR7. Nani, Veloso, Yannick, Postiga, Fabio Quim longs list of players too many to name that have under achieved or not achieved at all. Today we have a limited NT in the WC due to a failed generation of 10 years and we are paying for it with modest squad especially in midfield.

7) Time is running out, we need the next generation to break this 10 years curse or we will be back to the dark ages of Portuguese NT in the 70s and 80s when we hardly qualified for anything.

8) Saying all this I still think we have a shot by our usual grit to qualify to the knockouts but with this very limited squad the best is a final 8.
Bullocks!
32 Sunday, 22 June 2014 02:21
Nelson Oliveira
I expected Portugal to crash out of this tournament before the Germany debacle, so I am no stranger to pessimism, but to say Portugal has not punched above its weight is total bullocks. I am not going to waste my time pointing out why as others are doing it quite well. The author should read Soccernomics.
One in a while posters + VoR
31 Sunday, 22 June 2014 01:36
Val/Canada
Guys the comments on this thread are fantastic, I am going to echo Voice of Reason one more time as another regular poster, POST MORE OFTEN!

The comments on this article are fantastic, well researched and educated. Dont be shy, 95% of the guys here are great and we all love discussion.

Dont wait every 4 years to post, the stuff you all wrote here is gold (except the serial curmudgeons, hahah)

Forca Portugal!!
Article is spot on
30 Saturday, 21 June 2014 19:53
João/Holanda
Great read Vitor. Another exception is the 1-0 win against in Spain 2004, of course that was the forever chokers Spain rather than the victors Spain.
The 3-0 win against Germany in 2000, a match I fondly remember, but the truth it the match was nothing more than a glorified friendly Portugal was already qualified, Germany was already out (2 losses) Portugal was literally playing with their B-team.

The only teams we can consistently beat are the minnows (the North Koreas) or the teams that are at our level (Netherlands, England) or below our levels (Czech Republic, Denmark in 2012) but as soon as we face one of the big teams than we lose and we're out. This has to change if we want to win a tournament.
Full Sarcasm NJ/USA/SLB
29 Saturday, 21 June 2014 17:22
verde-rubro - London
you what!!!

tell me who did Portugal had to play in the qualifier? in the 70s and 80s

i can tell you they never had the teams from the break up of Russia or the Balkans or the expansion of the euros

i've been watching Portugal since 1980 so NO it not Sarcasm
Pessimism
28 Saturday, 21 June 2014 16:13
Mike/USA
Another reason why Portugal doesn't succeed is Portuguese pessimism. When Portugal are losing, they tend to put their heads down and give up rather than rise to the challenge. There is no shame in losing to Germany, by 4 goals was a surprise, but that was thanks to Pepe putting himself first over the team. They knocked down and let's see how they react. A good team gets up and will take it out on a weak squad like the US.
Full Sarcasm
27 Saturday, 21 June 2014 13:39
NJ/USA/SLB
You are do right verde. Portugal qualified and was competitive in so many International competitions in the 70's and 80's, when Portuguese players dominated the league.
@ VSC comment number 5
26 Saturday, 21 June 2014 13:16
Voice of Reason / Canada
I couldn't agree with you more - perfectly summed up.

I thought the article was provocative at best, poorly researched with cherry picked examples at worst. A lot of countries would be proud to have Portugal's international record, even without a championship. For the most part, our guys have played the kind of futebol that drew fans from all over the world.

I am going to say this one more time about FIFA rankings - yes, you can pick them apart and criticize. But think of this - it is a ranking system based on results. Factors like strength of conference, strength of oppononent and competition are weighted. Portugal being number 4 doesn't mean fourth best - what is means is that our guys play big in big tournaments and garner big points...that's it, that's all.

I like to think of myself as one of the more level headed regular posters here - some will say I wear the rose coloured glasses - but I started posting in response to a few serial curmudgeons who almost revel in the fact the Portugal has not won.

You know what guys? The easist thing to say going into every tournament is "Portugal won't win". That's really going out on a limb there - there can only be one winner. If you are really an expert or "soccer geek" give me analysis on how they could win or what they need to do to win.

This might have been my favourite round of comments - the comments (from people I have never seen) have been well written, well informed and most important well thought out. Thankfully, your comments have likely put a stop to some of our serial curmudgeons who were ready to agree wholeheartledly...I think we know who that is.

Great comments guys - Seriously proud to be part of a group of thoughtful passionate fans on this site.
Backs against the wall. as usually the case
25 Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:01
Veeetor !!! Toronto Canada
This is our destiny, making lfe really hard for ourselves, mind you we have many examples of this and how the NT endured when faced grim starts, like the artilcle had mentioned several examples over the years,

But I would like to go back memory lane aswell 1983 !!

Euro qualifying we were in a group with Poland and the mighty Soviet Union (just 3 teams in the division) . Our first match Portugal went into Russia and got blown away 5-0 an embarrassing loss (reading the article from my scrap book they came home blaming the food was poor.)

That was their only loss they ended the Q-round beating Russia in Lisbon ...Good ole Rui Jordao scoring.!

They ended up in 84/Euro in France a group with Germany Spain and Romania , both Portugal and Spain went thru.

And I remember them playing the Best Game I had ever seen Portugal play was in the semi-finals taking on Platini's France . Even though we lossed by hair in extra time.

After that game I truly think we as a nation were noticed because no one thought we would make such an impact in the tournament .

We can over-come our situation, remember what Ronaldo said "we have both feet on the ground" I hope they mean what they say because "nothing will stop them if that is the case"

Forca Portugal !!!
in the future Portugal are doomed
24 Saturday, 21 June 2014 10:25
verde-rubro - London
when OUR federation puts a cap in Foreign players coming to play in our league then we will see our youths getting the chances in our clubs 1st teams (and Brazilians should not get special treatment, they are foreign.)
Some more numbers
23 Saturday, 21 June 2014 02:42
NJ/USA/SLB
I would like to see the salary of some International managers that didn't qualify and where they would fit on the list.
To be honest I expected some to be earning more, and Bento actually earning less. It wasn't like he was in high demand at the club level. Yes he might have thought he was, but...

http://balls.ie/football/see-highest-paid-managers-world-cup/
2006 World Cup - It was France, not Germany
22 Saturday, 21 June 2014 02:09
Paul V. (Canada)
I am an avid reader, rarely post...Love this site.

"However, it should be noted that the two opponents Portugal overcame to play Germany in the semi-finals were England and the Netherlands"

It was France that Portugal met in the semi-finals in 2006 World Cup....Lost on a PK....:(. We met Germany in the 3rd place match.
Details Tell The Story, Not Results
21 Saturday, 21 June 2014 01:34
George/Canada
Interesting read but I have to say that I disagree as well. In particular, I disagree that we haven't punched above our weight against France and Spain.

The details are important here - national teams evolve and devolve, and player performance & squad strength are important to discuss. In those examples that you provided, it's worth noting that we didn't just play any version of Spain and France, we played the strongest versions they've put forth thus far - their "Golden Generations" - and we were very competitive in all those matches. Portugal and France were only separated by a penalty in both of those matches (2000 & 2006) and that France team boasted the likes of Zidane, Henry, Vieira, Trezeguet, etc. France was the best national side in the world at the time and had world-class depth at virtually every position. We held our own! Same goes for the recent Spain matches - we had the oh so unfortunate privilege of coming across what many are calling the greatest national side of all time! And it took a questionable offside goal in one match and penalties in the other for them to beat us. One again, I'd argue that we held our own. And we certainly didn't have any issues defeating Spain in 2004 as a couple of people have already said. Before Monday, many people would've said that the USA couldn't punch above their weight because they could never beat Ghana. But they did this time. Different teams, different day. Every game is up for grabs.

I can't even remember when the last time was that we played Italy in a competitive match. Who knows what the outcome would be now? The Netherlands are a team that consistently performs well against Italy, and it's been noted that we perform well against the Netherlands. So, logic dictates that we would be able to perform well against Italy today. Well enough to win? Who knows? We'd have to play it out. But I think we'd play well enough to "punch above our weight".

If anything, I'd say we consistently fail to punch AT our weight. It's the reason why we usually find ourselves in a playoff to qualify for an international tournament, losing out to teams like Russia and Denmark, struggling against teams like Israel, Northern Ireland, Armenia, and Albania in the process. If we showed more consistency, we'd find ourselves seeded in every tournament, improving our odds of reaching the semi-finals or finals. As it stands, all we do is make a difficult task even more difficult by constantly placing ourselves in "Groups of Death".

Until we show more consistency, we'll never reach our full potential, or, I guess as you put it, "punch above our weight"
@J Gomes
20 Saturday, 21 June 2014 00:36
George NJ/USA
Nice post. Portugal is in the "pound for pound" argument with any country.
Portugal soooooooo hugely over rated!!!
19 Friday, 20 June 2014 23:59
Alvaro Magalhaes - London, England
I have suffered so much in the past with our 'Seleção'. This time was different, it was exactly what I was expecting. With the exception of Ronaldo who on top form is ranked amongst the top 10 players in the world, please don't get brainwashed by FIFA hype, that;s nothing but crap! Like their ranking and placing Portugal currently as the 4th best National team in the whole wide world!!! HA HA HA What a joke!!! Never! I am very proud to be Portuguese but please let's be realistic, Germany kicked the crap out of us, down 10 men or not, they are a power house, the moment Fábio Coentrão was out for wold cup that Portugal's world cup over, people don't realise the importance of Portugal's second best player after Ronaldo. We are now doomed, USA will beat Portugal and Portuguese people will remain solemn and depressed and sad and praying hail maries.
Couldn't disagree more
18 Friday, 20 June 2014 23:58
Bob/Canada
With all due respect, I'm uncertain of your positioning with your article. Did you want to drive the comment volume up with your assessment, or do you honestly believe what you wrote here? It would be interesting to get a feel for what you believe is required for Portugal to punch 'at its weight'. Do they have to win a World Cup? Does Portugal have to consistently make it to the quarters or semis to justify their appearances in these tournaments?

There is more than sufficient evidence left here by others to explain why Portugal CONSISTENTLY punches above their weight, and in my humble opinion, only Uruguay has a more formidable record based on their population size. Although population alone shouldn't be taken into account, as culture has as much a role to play (otherwise the US would be leading the football ranks). I suspect that if we had breezed by the US and Ghana before playing Germany, perhaps the tone of your article would have been a little more uplifting. But then again, it appears that putting our own culture and country down is embedded in our DNA isn't it?

I'm proud of our boys, and if they don't make it past the group stage, it's only because another team was hungrier, and isn't missing 'hotheads' that can't control their emotions and put their team at a disadvantage.

Força Portugal! Contra os canhões!
Agree with J Gomes/Canada
17 Friday, 20 June 2014 23:52
Felipe/London
Yeah pretty much all the world cup winners (apart from Uruguay) have large populations which allow them to have a big talent supply. Portugal in the past 14 years have done very well in international tournaments, and have punched above there weight, but at the same time have underachieved with the talent we have have produced the past 20 years or so. I would classify Portugal as a powerhouse in world football without winning international titles, just going by the reasons that we have been blessed with great players over the years, great managers also, historic domestic teams all coming from a population of just 10 million Portuguese in Portugal, compare that to other nations that have similar populations statistics, were above them. Just need to bring that complex as a nation we can beat who ever..But yeah I'm hoping we get another 'golden generation' soon...Lets see what happens, 2 more games to go to change our world cup fortunes in the brotherland, Forca Portugal!
The Truth Behind the Numbers
16 Friday, 20 June 2014 22:21
J Gomes/Canada
First off, thanks for all the hard work you do on this site. I'm sure it's a passion, but one that is demanding and consumes a lot of time; for that I say Thank You.
This is the first time I've posted a comment, so please excuse me for being long-winded.
This is a thoughtful piece, and you conclude it by saying: "Portugal fare rather well on European soil (whether it is the Euros or World Cups) and less well on other continents. It also reveals that, contrary to popular belief - and the 3-0 win against Germany back in 2000 notwithstanding - Portugal have consistently failed to punch above their weight. . ."
I can be as demanding as any other fan and I'd like the team to be consistent winners, but I'm of the view that in fact Portugal does punch above its weight. For a country of 10.5 million inhabitants, that's quite the accomplishment, I would say.
Here's something to consider: since the 1954 tourney, no country has won the World Cup title with a small population.
Here's the chart:
Year Winner (Current population)
1954 West Germany (82 million)
1958 Brazil (199 million)
1962 Brazil (199 million)
1966 England (53 million)
1970 Brazil (199 million)
1974 West Germany (82 million)
1978 Argentina (41 million)
1982 Italy (60 million)
1986 Argentina (41 million)
1990 West Germany (82 million)
1994 Brazil (199 million)
1998 France (65 million)
2002 Brazil (199 million)
2006 Italy (60 million)
2010 Spain (47 million)

OK, what about the Euros? In the modern era, the only winners with a population of less than 10 million have been Denmark in 1992 (pop: 5.6 million).
Portugal with Luis Figo and the Golden Generation didn't win a Euro or World Cup title, that's true. But they played wonderful football and made an impact on most tournaments. The fact that one of the best players of this generation is Portuguese (CR7) means the nation is blessed to how a star so quickly fill Fido’s shoes (and he Eusebio’s)
We could be like Austria and the Wunderteam of the 1930s or Hungary and the Magical Magyars of the 50s: once-in-a-generation artists that are now consigned to the dim pages of the history books.
Want a more modern example?
How's Romania done since the days of Hagi, or Bulgaria since the days of Stoichkov?
Two more examples to back up my contention that indeed Portugal has punched above its weight. Other than the 1966 World Cup, what's England ever done? No titles and no finals appearance. That's an obvious argument about how tough it is to stay among the contenders year after year after year.
How about the Greeks, who have a population similar to Portugal's, about 11 million?
Oh, sure, their dire, negative tactics won Euro 2004, but they failed to qualify for the next World Cup. And here's Greece's stats for all their World Cup appearances (up to Brazil):
1994 USA - 3 PL, 0 W 0 D 3 L 0 GF 10 GA
2010 South Africa - 3 PL, 1 W 0 D 2 L 2 GF 5 GA
Total: 6 PL, 1 W 0 D 5 L 2 GF 15 GA.
Portugal, at six World Cup tourneys, boasts an overall record of:23 PL,12 W 3 D 8 L 39 GF 22 GA
So, all in all, A Selecção das Quinas has managed to stay competitive, entertaining and successful for almost two decades. We should count that as a blessing.
Now, if we can just get by the Americans on Sunday. . . .
Portugal
15 Friday, 20 June 2014 21:22
Kevin Canada
Its common knowledge among fans of the Seleccao that we don't fair well against France, Italy, Germany, Spain. We need to change our fortunes against these countries if we're ever to win a major tournament. I wasn't aware of our less than stellar performances outside of Europe. Hopefully this Sunday we change that.
Maybe....
14 Friday, 20 June 2014 20:04
Val/Canada
When the tournament started i would not think beating the USA would be of much importance but now, after that disaster v Germany, the game v USA is massive and holds everything for Portugal. Not only do they need a win, badly, but they need a solid performance to boot. Lose and they are done, tie and they are done.

They simply must win.

There have only been 8 winners of the WC, it is a very difficult thing to win. There is no shame in giving it 100% and losing, but some of the incidents over the past years (both external and internal) leaves fans with a bitter taste.

Ghana had the run of play v USA but had terrible finishing, USA pretty much scored on its only chances. How Portugal play int he first 30 mins on Sunday will tell us what kind of team we have here.

I would love to win and win by at least 2 goals, but the only thing i expect is 120% from the selecao, giving that, win or lose, we the fans will not be angry, disapointed perhaps but not the anger we felt like in the Germnay game.

Forca Portugal!!
Good Read
13 Friday, 20 June 2014 19:51
Tony C
Very Interesting take. Thank you!
Match Preview
12 Friday, 20 June 2014 17:48
Tam/Portugal
Are we still going to be getting a preview for the US match?
Freak incident or a Sign of trouble
11 Friday, 20 June 2014 17:17
George NJ/USA
If the red card doesn't happen...Portugal goes on to lose 2-1 and everyone shrugs off the game as just another loss to a great German side.

Red card happens, 2 more goals conceded, Coentrao injured and now this is the worst defeat in history.

Only one player lost composure, a player with a history of losing composure. Everyone else fought hard, I know this because they only conceded 2 goals to a top German team despite only playing with 10 men.

So was this just a freak one-off incident that doesn't reflect the true quality of this team or was this a sign of trouble with this team. We'll find out on Sunday. Until then, I'll reserve judgment.
euro 2000,2004 and wc 2006
10 Friday, 20 June 2014 15:33
hareesh,kerala/india
It was euro 2000 that made me a big and passionate portugal fan.i was in my 18 then and the defeat against france was heart breaking for me.the next interest was in world cup but got only tears.euro 2004 and wc 2006 were memorable....i always think that the main problem with portugal is the lack of attacking central midfielder.when we had such players like deco,maniche our performance was also superb.a player who can read the game is the big necessity for portugal now.with all due respect CR 7 is not that kind of player.we need a new rui costa..a new deco.wingers are only second i think.CR 7 is ofcourse worlds best player but he is not a central midfielder.i dont think bento is a man with improvisation.he will field the same eleven.rafa will not be there in first eleven against usa.we cant win with frozen mind and thoughts.we need creativity,improvisation.until we find and field a creative attacking centre midfielder the bad time will go on.just go on.
True, but.....
9 Friday, 20 June 2014 15:29
Helder / USA (nyc)
Regarding the European power houses (Germany, France, Spain) Each of those losses in recent times were all very very narrow (excluding Mondays result).
2012 EC - loss to Spain on PK's (4-2)
2010 WC - loss to Spain 1 - 0
2008 EC - loss to Germany 3 - 2
2006 WC - loss to France 1 - 0
2000 EC - loss to France 2 - 1

2004 EC - I hate to say it but Greece deserved it. It was unattractive but was well planned, organized, & effective, it played to their strengths and no team could coup.

2002 WC - As well those losses were well deserved.
South Korea managed to reach the semifinals and the USA reached the quarter finals and should have reached the semifinals given that they out played Germany as well was denied a penalty as a German defender blocked the ball with his hand on the goal line. Germany was lucky to continue in the tournament.

1998 WCQ - Portugal should have been in that tournament, Portugal was beating Germany in Berlin & Rui Costa was given a straight red card by Referee Marc Batta from France for taking too long walking off to be subded. Which led to Germany tying the game with ten minutes remaining. The three points would have given Portugal top spot in the qualifying group.

The Portuguese national team need to lose this inferiority complex when it comes to playing these "European power houses", sure they can beat these European middle weight teams, but they need to learn to punch above their weight class. They can do it, it has happen in the past (Portugal was the first team to beat Germany on German soil in a competitive match (1986 WCQ)) There is no reason why some of the matches I mentioned up top couldn't have swung in Portugal's favor.
Correction
8 Friday, 20 June 2014 15:12
Peter/Canada
Portugal played France in 2006 World Cup semi-finals not Germany. Portugal played Germany for third place. I have been following this site for years and don’t usually comment, but I do enjoy reading people’s comments. This is CR7’s last change to impress in the World Cup at the height of his powers, considering his 29 years old. So everyone needs to have faith and believe that Portugal can get a positive result against USA and Ghana, and get behind this team.

Good Luck Portugal!
Wake up call
7 Friday, 20 June 2014 15:11
NJ/USA/SLB
This hurt, but it is what it is. In my opinion we were unfortunate coming up against an unbelievable Spain squad in the Euros.
The "Golden Generation" has no excuses for their abysmal performance. Figo gets touted as a leader, yet he didn't lead when it counted.

We scream at players and their selfishness, yet the FPF is no better. They scheduled late friendlies in the US, before the World Cup. A clear money grab, which set us back in preparing. We might have been playing, at half speed, but didn't get a chance to acclimate to our staging area, Campinos. We also have open practices, for a fee/ticket.

There's been enough said about the German match. Frankly, we really need to come out strong, because we'll be facing an US squad that will not lay down. They may lack some quality and be tired, but we might not be that far off from them.

I still hold out hope that we'll advance, but it won't get easier. We would have to face a talented but inexperienced Belgium squad first and then Argentina.
I don't think our legs will hold up.

The only thing I wish is not bringing a few more youngster, in order for them to experience the moment. Bento's regulars could have still come.
Change of fortunes
6 Friday, 20 June 2014 14:33
Matthew
I'm not sure even a win on Sunday will signal a change in fortunes -- many would say that the USA falls into the "favorable draws" category. But a win against the USA and then Ghana in the next game would at least give the team an opportunity to change fortunes and punch above their weight against a few of the undisputed top teams.

Força Portugal!
Red card for author and comment #!!!
5 Friday, 20 June 2014 14:24
vsc/usa
To use “the truth” in your title is pretty audacious (insert expletive) and to say that Portugal doesn’t punch above its weight is even more ridiculous (insert another expletive here). Your “truth” is really your opinion of the facts/stats…And I would much like to differ…The mere fact that we beat England and Netherlands on a regular basis is proof of punching above our weight (in many instances on paper those teams were better than us). And that’s only a minor point…Our “punch”….= we're ranked 4th by FIFA…Now read that out load to yourself FOURTh!!!!, we’ve had 2 of the world’s best players in the last 15 years and 3 in the last 50… Our UEFA club coeff is 2nd pot of 3teams (ie top 6)…Since the 1996 Euros has the 2nd highest number of wins in the tournament (14) behind Germany (16) and more than Spain(13) and Italy(9)…and I could go on and on but I know my argument is already won. No our “weight” = the population is (~10mm people ~83rd rank ), gdp is 44th, size of country = 105th. …To have the record we have in soccer given our limitations isn’t just punching above ones, weight it’s a statistical anomaly…a black swan that defies the logic of reversion to the mean. Portugal since 90’s (when Queiroz revolutionized Portuguese soccer) has been a consistent David amongst Goliaths. The politics and in-fighting are what they are…all nations have it. But to expect to consistently beat Italy, Germany and Spain would mean an expectation to be Brazil – and I would bet if our 10mm population were extrapolated up to the 200mm (of Brazil)…we would of course do that. That would 20x the talent pool!!!

While its helpful to take the rose colored glasses off sometimes your article reeks of ingratitude of all the wonderful things Portugal soccer has done in the last 20yrs – Portugal has suffered the last few years but I believe – do you?

A final point…This WorldCup (like 2006) is one of those where the draw is shaping to be quite favorable after all …assuming a 2nd place finish the teams to beat to get to rematch with Germany or final against Brazil are…Belgium, Argentina, Netherlands or Italy…all winnable in my opinion. Just keep calm and calm down – we got this.
Harsh truth
4 Friday, 20 June 2014 14:21
Ahmad/Lebanon
This is indeed an eye opener for most of us, just like Ronaldo said before the tournament began: "Let's keep our feet firmly on the ground".
Really?
3 Friday, 20 June 2014 14:09
Roberto/Montreal
Portugal have failed to punch above their weight? England and the Netherlands are historic football powerhouses -I don't quite see why we'd tuck away those famous victories to discuss our consistent failure against other top tier opposition.

The only team we've consistently struggled against in the last 20 years is Germany. Is losing to Spain in 2010 and 2012 considered failure? That might be the best national team in the history of football... And let's not forget how we eliminated them in 2004...

7 of the last 9 major tournaments (before this one) have been held on European soil -none on South American soil. Easy to say "we've only performed on European soil"...it's about the only place we've had to play!

There isn't enough evidence to say there is correlation between Portugal's results based on tournament location. Let's remember 2010 was in South Africa, and we got out of a "Group of Death" convincingly drawing Brazil in the process, and losing 1-0 on a blatantly offside goal to the team that went on to win the tournament...
Not this time around
2 Friday, 20 June 2014 13:56
Filipe/Canada
As beloved the Selecao das Quinas is to me, I am realistic in saying that with all the adversaties, missing players, poor managing, and single-mindedness of individuals it is not a favourable outlook for this World Cup. Nevertheless, I will cheer with spirit and patriotism. And hey, who knows, maybe a rag-tag bunch of subs might pull off something special. But I'm not putting money on that. Monopoly money...maybe.
About the post
1 Friday, 20 June 2014 12:25
Tuhin/Bangladesh
Honest introspection

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