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Saturday, 21 June 2014 00:18

Showdown in the Jungle

Portugal v. USA Match Preview

In less than 48 hours, Portugal face the United States in Manaus. The stakes could not be higher. Seleção expert Nathan Motz provides the backdrop for Sunday's highly anticipated encounter in the Group of Death.

When Portugal meets the United States in Manaus on Sunday, there will be some sense of relief (at least for me) that the media circus will finally subside, at least temporarily. A combination of the USA’s last minute defeat of World Cup nemesis Ghana, Portugal’s devastating loss to Germany, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s health has created a perfect storm of activity in the press in the build-up to the match.
 
But on Sunday, all of that comes to an end as a Portugal side weakened by injuries and suspension fights for its tournament survival. Ghana and Germany will have already played their match on Saturday, and with a Germany win looking like a solid bet, Portugal will be out of the World Cup if it loses to the USA. Furthermore, due to their minus four goal differential, the Seleção will most likely not make it to the knockout rounds unless they earn all three points. It is that objective that Paulo Bento and his men must achieve on Sunday.
 

The backdrop

Stories abound on both sides. The USA is deprived of top striker Jozy Altidore, and goes into the match knowing that their performance against Ghana was not comprehensively reassuring. The Ghanaians pressed the USA throughout the match, stifling their ability to go forward and forcing them to play on the counterattack. Yet, the USA refused to surrender and earned all three points anyway, showing they can win even when playing far less than their best football.

The entire world is aware of Portugal’s main problem: Ronaldo’s fitness. But perhaps the main concern should be how players like Veloso, Postiga, Andre Almeida, Eduardo, and others will fill in the gaps vacated by Pepe, Coentrao, Hugo Almeida, and Rui Patricio. Will Bento start William in midfield? The Seleção must also overcome the psychological dismantling they experienced at the hands of Germany.

Additionally, Bruno Alves missed training on Friday due to an adductor problem meaning that Portugal's entire back line may need to be revamped. ESPN reported this morning that Cristiano Ronaldo was wearing a "knee brace" in training on Friday, a clear misrepresentation of facts since the Portugal captain only wore the same leg strap that he has for the last few weeks. Rumors and blatant falsehoods aside, Portugal's talisman will not be 100% for this match, and his individual quality is desperately needed in 1v1 situations against the Americans.
 

Strategic rundown

The USA came out in a 4-4-2 to start the match against Ghana, but it is likely that they will employ a 4-5-1 against Portugal. Jurgen Klinsmann, despite his insistence that the USA will not play ultra-defensive, is well aware that a draw benefits his team far more than it does Portugal, who would then be forced to beat Ghana, hope the USA loses to Germany, and overturn a five goal differential in the process.

This match will be a contest of will more than anything else. The USA will be desperate to prove that they belong in Brazil and can compete against the best while Portugal are in survival mode and must demonstrate the resiliency to bounce back from defeat that has carried them during the Bento era.
The USA is in a more favorable position strategically, and will be content to find opportunities on the counter.

Conversely, Portugal must pursue victory from the onset. This match will likely be decided by whoever scores first. Should Portugal score, the USA will be forced to open up the game, knowing that defeat here means they must attain a positive result against Germany in their last match. Should the USA score first, they will be free to sit back and absorb pressure as they did against Ghana.
 

Midfield concern

The conundrum in central midfield goes on for Portugal with fans in disbelief that William’s efforts have gone unnoticed by Paulo Bento. Make no mistake, without creativity going forward through the middle of the pitch, Portugal will not be able to break down the USA’s stubborn defence. Ghana attempted to defeat the Americans with crosses from the flanks into the box and was largely unsuccessful in that endeavor. Portugal’s midfield trio will need to win their individual battles against the likes of Zusi, Beckerman, and Bradley, and distribute the ball to the feet of Portugal’s forwards.

CONCACAF nations have proven difficult to beat in this tournament, with both Mexico and Costa Rica earning surprising results, especially Los Ticos, who defeated 2006 World Cup champion Italy on Friday. Even outmatched Honduras put up a bitter fight against Ecuador, albeit in a losing effort. The USA possesses this same fighting spirit, but has the most individual quality of any team in their confederation. The Seleção are backed into a corner, will they come out swinging?
 

PortuGOAL prediction

In a World Cup that has defied rational attempts at prediction, I’ll try not to embarrass myself too badly here. With so much at stake, whichever team holds together psychologically will prevail. The first goal almost certainly determines the winner in this match. The USA has already been lucky against Ghana, and Portugal have hopefully experienced their worst nightmare already against the Germans, so I believe it will be Portugal that scores first en-route to a fiercely contested 2-1 win over the Americans in Manaus.
 
Força Seleção Sempre.
 
by Nathan Motz

 
Comments (55)
Bento response to the 4-0 loss
55 Sunday, 22 June 2014 21:42
João/Holanda
The same midfield that failed horribly against Germany, looks like Bento hasn't learned anything from the previous match nor from Spain. How can a person be that stubborn.

When Portugal flies back in the same plane as Spain I hope Bento stays behind, maybe some second division Brazilian club wants him.
Forca Portugal
54 Sunday, 22 June 2014 20:19
VSC/USA
I just want to say that I agree with many of the posters about how much hate is directed towards the Portugal team here in the U.S press...but they can't help it and it's really insecurity. Likely (I really really really hope and pray) their downfall in this game.

Now I know what it's like to be CR7....

So I won't blame him (in fact I may join him from afar) when he celebrates a goal beating his chest and yelling "EU ESTOU AQUI!" ..."EU ESTOU AQUI!"

I urge all supporters to visualize the win, the goals all of it - it works....

"I had nothing left to offer but pure reflex. Pure reflex and mankind's basic drive for survival, that somehow shouts, "NO - I WILL NOT DIE TODAY!"
Bento
53 Sunday, 22 June 2014 19:42
Tomtom
I my god after reading all the comment and reviews , bento has gone against everything we said all week no edwardo seems to b the biggest shock and no William o my fucking god this man is n idiot has to be fired , Almeida only useful on the right ... I hope we all bite awar words and bento knows something we don't and we kick some ass I hope so but Edwardo poor lad how many saves was there against Mexico ... Big tall guy AMA u g keeper ... Haha and again quaresma didn't get a look in cavaleiro nada ... Portugal best make a world super star striker n fast Marcos lopes could b that man Forca portugal I'm getting on the super bocks now nice n early Forca pahhhh
LHE
52 Sunday, 22 June 2014 19:03
portwood
" I was born in Ben Fica" lmao you cannot be serious

He could be very serious. So, before you laugh at someone, do some homework:
"Benfica é uma freguesia portuguesa do concelho de Lisboa...", or in English, if you prefer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benfica_(Lisbon)

Benfica isn't just a team in Lisboa, it is a neighborhood and lots of people are born there!
Lalas Comments -- set the record
51 Sunday, 22 June 2014 18:55
Tony, CA
I am not defending Lalas on ESPN as I don't always agree with him but his overall commentary has been solid.

Please don't forget that back in 2012, Lalas had Portugal as a darkhorse in Euro 2012 and he was right. The man is gives his insights based on what he observes.

Personally if he feels that the US can beat Portugal, his point has merits. There are data points that would provide support to his arguments. There are also countering points that Portugal can win.

IMO up to Portugal to disprove the critics who think the US will win.
ESPN
50 Sunday, 22 June 2014 18:55
MDCViolenes- NY, USA
About the US media coverage of the WC on ESPN-- NJ/USA/SLB I agree with some of what you said and appreciate your thoughts. Most notably that it's a great thing that ESPN is covering it over Fox. Meu Deus, I don't know what I would do if I had to anticipate a game with the likes of Gus Johnson, Eric Wynalda, Warren Barton or whoever they throw in their gantries. Pisses me off every time I find out any of them are calling a game, at this point I'd rather follow a game on the radio or in a language I don't understand than those guys.

In all honesty though, I still think ESPN's coverage is embarrassing, just for the overwhelming jingoism plus their coverage of Portugal's team has been so poor. Were you a casual American following these games you would think it's Ronaldo and a bunch of no names. Before Ghana there wasn't much true analysis of their squad either, it's just 'revenge for the last two WC's' type of stuff. For everyone who's been giving say Hugo or Nani shit about the way they play, these guys would be revelations in the American Soccer set up. Forget Donovan. Most of our bench has players that would fill their starting 11. I love both teams, I just don't like how ESPN is sort of showing showing disrespect to opponents and lazy journalism. They don't seem to know much about Portugal's style, mentality, or players and they should not be writing Portugal off, like already looking forward to the round of 16. And Lalas-- Alexi Lalas. I don't look too much into what he has to say besides calling the Selecção wounded animals. He predicted before the WC that the US has no chance to get through, now he's switching sides as their chances are much better now. I think part of it is excitement on his part, and not wanting to piss off the network as they seem to have a vested interest in prolonging the excitement for USMNT which is understandable. But stop with the overwhelming nationalism, and cover the teams better so the show hosts don't sound as though the last time they knew anything about a football match was South Africa 2010.
Can a Limited Team Win?
49 Sunday, 22 June 2014 18:47
Tony, CA
Going into the World Cup we knew there was a possible scenario Portugal needed to win the last two games. We can have different opinions about how good the Portugal NT is and we seem to debate about few positions like William vs. Veloso.

The reality going in to the WC this team was a limited team by past standards with high dependency on CR7 to score, limited striker options, and limited midfield physically and skill.

With Fabio C our 2nd best player in terms of effectiveness on the field and tactics out, we have become more limited. Where is the scoring going to come from if not CR7? Nani has done nothing, Eder is okay and has some promise, our midfield has not scored a quality goal against a quality team in long time, we don't have Maniche type player who is at his peak right now to give us more scoring or a Deco who would make the killer pass into the box or provide a goal.

Ideally William must play as he gives us many missing attributes, the issue is chemistry in midfield. As limited as Miereles, Moutinho, and Veloso are they have some chemistry as demonstrated in 2010 though 2 of the 3 have declined. Personally, I would leave Veloso in and take out the Miereles and inject William. Given the conditions Bento will be forced to sub at midfield so we will see William just a question of when?

This game against the US is against an opponent that will likely be in better physical condition and adjust to the conditions more favorable. Important to not be wasteful with the ball and control the ball to minimize the chasing. This should favor Portugal. Super critical to score early and pull the US out of defensive mode. Set pieces will be super critical I do not understand how we constantly are poor against set pieces.

It should bring lots of sports drama and my feeling is if this what I called limited team is any good then they should demonstrate on the field, if not then the fruits of their labor is to go home and start the rebuilding process. This in my opinion is very much a 50/50 and will depends on Portugal to drive the game and not chase the game.
veloso
48 Sunday, 22 June 2014 17:29
lusiads/canada
So many people seem to hate veloso or think he is at the heart of portugal's problems. I hope people watch today's game fairly should he get the start at dm. Just a reminder that he got the crucial assist to ronaldo in the first sweeden game which gave us the 1-0 win and that before all hell broke loose in the germany game he gave lahm fits in the midfield and actually picked his pocket to almost set up Portugal's first goal.

Also all those people blindly clamouring for youth in the lineup don't forget that many of you also clamoured for Nelson OLiveira and we see were that ended up. Also almeida (another young gun) made a huge blunder against Germany which gifted them a goal
Portugal 3 - USA 0
47 Sunday, 22 June 2014 17:13
Robert/Marina Del Rey
Portugal's class shows.
Coverage has been good
46 Sunday, 22 June 2014 16:36
NJ/USA/SLB
I think that people are focusing only on what they want to hear when it comes to coverage. I'm thrilled that espn is doing the World Cup over Fox. Their coverage, commentators, and pre & post coverage had been great.

Lexi tends to be more despised by Americans than foreigners, but by luck or insight he's been right about a lot of things. He dies put himself out there which will always bring criticism. Ballack has been very forward with his comments as well, especially his criticism of the English and American team. Surprise, surprise.

As for the refs there's been issues, but there always is.

I've heard plenty about Jozy's injury and how it cripples the US. They don't have a like replacement which means of tactical overhaul.
Bento doesn't see a need or just isn't astute enough to recognize a tactical overhaul. We will roll out our standard 4-3-3, since he sees the German match as a throw away game. The facts are that injuries pose problems as does the weather. Falling prey to depending on the likes of Meireles and Postiga at this point of their careers, is an issue.

Must win. Portugal has no business losing to the US.
JUST GET IT DONE.
Cristiano Ronaldo Carries (Literally) the Hopes of Portuguese-America
45 Sunday, 22 June 2014 16:29
Matthew
In the nervous hours before this critical USA-Portugal match, I will share this little story with all of my fellow Portuguese supporters . . .

The Seleção stayed in New Jersey (in the United States) while they were training at the Jets facility for their friendlies against Mexico and Ireland. My 7 year old son, Diogo, who is a proud Portuguese-American, really wanted to support the team and maybe see some of the players, so we agreed to take him to the hotel to see what we could see. The day before we went, my son spent all afternoon making a small red and green bracelet; he said he wanted to give it to Cristiano Ronaldo for good luck and so that CR would know that there are many Portuguese people in America who are hoping that Portugal win the World Cup, even if they have to win against the USA. I told him he would be lucky to even catch a glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo, but that it was a nice idea.

Well, as luck would have it, my wife and my son just happened to be in the right spot at the right moment, and had a chance to meet Cristiano Ronaldo -- my son gave him his little bracelet that he made, and CR was nice enough to thank him and put it on his wrist. My son was thrilled to have met his hero; CR was very friendly and kind to him.

But imagine our surprise when we saw online a news photo of the team getting off the plane in Brazil . . . with Diogo's little good luck bracelet on Cristiano Ronaldo's wrist! A simple gift straight from the heart of a little boy.

So, our team's captain knows that Portuguese all over the world are behind him and his teammates, including Portuguese-Americans living in the USA.

For any other kids out there like my son, who find themselves alone cheering for Portugal when all their classmates at school are putting Portugal down and talking about how the USA is going to beat them; for us in the English-speaking world where the media so often seems focused only on the negative things about the Portuguese team -- let's hope that all of our good luck wishes help carry Portugal to a victory tonight against the United States.

(And then, we can cheer for both Portugal and the USA to win their last group games, and be the two teams to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament.)

Força Portugal!
Defense?
44 Sunday, 22 June 2014 15:57
Matthew
I'm not a master tactician nor do I play one on Portugoal.net -- so I don't often comment on tactics and players.

That said, if William doesn't start, I will admit to being puzzled. With Coentrao, Pepe, and Bruno Alves out of the match, we are down 3 out of 4 of our primary defenders. No matter how capable the substitutes are, it's clear that our defense will be weaker than usual, if for no other reason than the fact that this mix of players has had practically no experience working together as a unit. This isn't subbing in one player for an injured player -- it's basically a wholesale replacement of our defense.

So given that, it would seem to me that since William is a more defensive-minded midfielder than Veloso, he should get the start to help shore up the defense. Without regard to who is the better overall player under normal conditions, this seems to me one of those situations where William's youth (playing in the Amazon rain forest!) and defense-minded playing style would be a better fit.

But regardless of who starts, I will be cheering on Portugal tonight and hoping for the best.
?
43 Sunday, 22 June 2014 15:35
LHE
" I was born in Ben Fica" lmao you cannot be serious
BENTO
42 Sunday, 22 June 2014 13:57
JOHN/ TORONTO
WE HAVE TO PLAYERS IT'S ALL UP TO MR . BENTO IF HE PUTS THE RIGHT GUY'S ON THE PITCH . LET'S HOPE FOR THE BEST. THIS WC YOU NEED SOME YOUNGER LEG'S. PLEASE BENTO USE YOUR HEAD !!!!
Keep It Trending
41 Sunday, 22 June 2014 13:16
Danny21/USA
Since Euro 96, Portugal has always won its second group stage fixture at every major International tournament and I expect that trend to continue today...
Euro 96: Portugal 1-0 Turkey
Euro 00: Portugal 1-0 Romania
World Cup 02: Portugal 4-0 Poland
Euro 04: Portugal 2-0 Russia
World Cup 06: Portugal 2-0 Iran
Euro 08: Portugal 3-1 Czech Republic
World Cup 10: Portugal 7-0 North Korea
Euro 12: Portugal 3-2 Denmark

Forca Portugal!
William Carvalho
40 Sunday, 22 June 2014 13:04
Danny/Canada
My anxiety levels are thru the roof! Bento messed up big time against Germany (Ref left a crime scene,Brutal ref! same ref ripped off Iran)...Veloso is horrible and playing beside meireles Portugal will lose!
William Carvalho should not be seating on the bench.I hope to God William will be in that line up against the states. Joao Perreira is a joke and not having Antunes in Brazil is an other crime.
We need to score early and dominate posession.
39 Sunday, 22 June 2014 12:11
Arnaldo/USA
Even without 3 of our best we still have better talent. But if we dont get an early lead it will be a long day. The US is bigger and more physical, and frankly in better physical condition. On a long hot day they can outlast us.
Forca Portugal !!
38 Sunday, 22 June 2014 12:06
Veeetor !!! Toronto Canada
As we saw Ghana look right back into the eyes of the Germans they found them almost beatable...too bad Portugal couldnt do that ...But thats all in past.

Questions on how our back line will be...I like Tony/Canada's idea of a backline providing Alves is unfit. The idea of Veloso at at LB, would give the team better support back and possible the front, cause he can cross the ball nicely.

I like to see more youth in this line-up because the heat is almost unbearable today and this game could be more about conditioning than anything else..that means William is in. and up front Eder and I dont mind to see Nani to start but he will be changed to Verinhia

As SupremoGino said if Ronaldo is back in form ..Watch Out USA!! not even the media can save you!!

FORCA PORTUGAL !!!!
FORÇA PORTUGAL!!!!!!
37 Sunday, 22 June 2014 07:53
Ricardo/usa
My lineup:
Eduardo/Beto
Pereira-Alves-Neto-Veloso
Carvalho
Moutinho-Meireles
Nani---------Eder----------Ronaldo

We always step up when it counts, and I hope it's no different this time. We never really got going vs Germany and I think it was just an off day and we're way better than that, even with injuries. I think our players will step up and deliver. I'm going for Portugal 2-1 USA. Ronaldo to get a goal or two
USA game
36 Sunday, 22 June 2014 05:43
Nicolss/USA
I am an American from American parents. Parents were livng in Portugal for 3 years. I was born in Ben Fica and that is my only tie to Portugal. For reasons that are hrad to explain, I love Portugal with all my heart and soul even though I dont speak the language. Its a wierd feeling since all I can say is that I was born there and lived there until I was about 3. I went to the Euro 2004 final against Greece and I go back there every 5 years or so to Estoril. I really want Portugal to win this game and I spent all night looking for my Portugal towel and flag etc. We need G-d to be with us and be lucky. Thats the bottom line. Im so worried about this game but in a way I cant lose right? cause Im American. If Im so American, then why do I have these very strong feelings about the place I was born. Just because you are born somewhere in theory shouldnt create this kind of feeling. Again, my parent are American and I cant speak a word of Portuguese. Go figure.
Bento
35 Sunday, 22 June 2014 05:03
Ryan/U.S.
Unfortunately Bento has already tipped his hat. And, if I know the starting lineup, you damn sure as well know Klinsmann does. Here it is,

Beto
Pereira, Costa, Alves, Almeida
Veloso
Moutinho, Meireles
Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo

Once again, Bento gets too stubborn. William Carvalho and Eder should be starting ahead of Veloso and Postiga. I would even experiment Veloso at left-back, atleast he can whip in dangerous balls into the box and isn't being asked to be physical. William is strong and physical as well as tactically aware and smart. Strong tackles and good enough distribution. Don't understand it.

I would even push Veloso up or start Amorim over Raul Meireles the way he's playing.
Starting lineup
34 Sunday, 22 June 2014 03:55
TONY/CANADA
I believe we should have

eduardo
pereira costa neto veloso

carvalho

verinhia moutinho meireles ronaldo

eder

I believe in the back costa can cover for pereira and neto can cover for veloso when needed. Also carvalho is also a strong defensive presence with exceptional passing skills. Verinhia is faster and a better defender than nani, moutinho definitely has to step up and show his creativity and passing skills and meireles is also a strong defender with great vision. This will allow ronaldo and eder exhibit their strong offensive skills.
Stubborn Bento
33 Sunday, 22 June 2014 03:30
Rui / Canada
let's all pray that our stubborn mule of a coach see's the light in the morning and chooses the right starting line up. i was extremely disappointed by what was being projected in that final training session.
How many players will we finish with this time? I say 9...
32 Sunday, 22 June 2014 02:56
Nelson Oliveira
If Paulo Bento doesn't start William and Eder, I will fly to Brazil and hit him over the head with a bottle of Sagres.

As for Alexi Lalas, he's the loud mouth, Stephen A Smith-type of ESPN's soccer coverage team. He always talks down Portugal in every World Cup. This coming from a guy whose most memorable win as a player was due to an own goal.

Also, I agree with what Tony said here:

"Bento is gonna roll out a 4-3-3, we are gonna cross a thousand times to no one, USA is going to counter us and the referee will fuck us at least once. It's too easy to predict."
Preview
31 Sunday, 22 June 2014 02:44
SupremoGino
It's a great thing Ghana managed to draw with Germany - now they have work to do. Nor 1st place or qualification (for that matter) is guaranteed.. their pride and egos are swollen and there may be a score to settle with Klinsmann.

I'm confident they'll deliver that message, preferably a royal beat down on the USA which would immensely help our goal differential.

But before we get too ahead, it's all about Sunday. It's funny because I feel if we had our usual guys with a fully fit CR.. we'd blow USA out of the water.

I just don't know with this makeshift back four.. how will they handle the pressure?

That's why William Carvalho providing coverage is so important but Bento is too pea-brained to roll him out. I mean.. he was suppose to start against Germany and didn't so how do we expect anything different from this moron?

He really thinks the exact same lineup from two years ago will carry the team throughout. SMH.

I'm curious to know what kind of speech he's prepared for these guys.. if he's instilled the passion, focus, and resilience required to conquer a US team that is remembered for late game heroics throughout their history.

They won't go down without a fight.. better be prepared.
Technique
30 Sunday, 22 June 2014 00:26
Brian/USA
Living in the U.S and watching ESPN's coverage is brutal. Every day and every story line is about the US and Portugal's injuries. Even before the US best Ghana there was already an unfair amount of coverage about Ronaldo's knee. I simply despise Alexi Lalas, for some reason he just doesn't respect Portugal, he must watch replay's of the 2002 match on the daily. After seeing a number of the matches that took place in Manaus, technique, skill and guile is going to be the difference, by the time the second half rolls around the heavy legs take their toll. Portugal should edge out the American's in these categories. Like many I would like to see Portugal come right out of the gate and lay a maker in the early stages to show their intent. I truly don't know what the out come will be, but Portugal must be clinical. I do respect the US, but I would really like 3 reasons/points not to.

Forca
Soooooooooooooooo Nervous
29 Sunday, 22 June 2014 00:08
Pedro Vasconcelos - London, UK
I have a horrible feeling that the USA is going to beat Portugal, I sincerely hope I am wrong. I think I will have to consume a bottle of wine and some beers to calm the nerves. My favourite beer in the world is not Super Bock or Sagres, Becks is better I'm afraid. Love Super Bock and Sagres too. Cristal from Madeira is also very nice beer. Viva a' Madeira! Anyway, Portugal got totally whooped by Germany, USA beat Ghana and Ghana were like for like with the Germans. SCARY!!! Arghh! I want my mummy.
Portugal 3 USA 0
28 Saturday, 21 June 2014 23:49
Lou
When was the last time Portugal lost two matches consecutively?

While the Germany match was a nightmare, it has to be said we never got started. Iffy penalty, over dramatic sending off (how many much worse offences have I already seen this tournament?)...down a man with over half a game remaining v Germany. No chance. Happpens. Germany are no superpower - on display today.

But its not like Portugal forgot to play football - suddenly we are underdogs vs the USA? Give me a break. Its been a week, shit has past...clean slate and a normal victory. Ghana worries me a lot more right now than the USA.
ESPN fail.
27 Saturday, 21 June 2014 23:39
Caes/USA
I can't stand the commentary on ESPN either. Lalas Is a clown who played in a WC by default (USA hosted).

I only watch the games on Univision. I have a small grasp of the Spanish language so that helps.

I want to see Portugal crush the US tomorrow. Like France did the Swiss. Here's hoping Bento gets his head out of his ass.
I believe in Portugal
26 Saturday, 21 June 2014 23:34
Jimmy/USA
I think that the heat will impact both teams. Being a follower of both teams, but pulling for Portugal (fell in love with the team at Euro 2004) I honestly think our MF will be the decided advantage. Many things can go either way in a football match especially at the WC but the US will probably start a midfield of the following:

------------Beckerman-----------------------
-----------------------------Jones--------------
Bedoya------------------------------------Zusi
------------------Bradley------------------------

It's really more of a diamond midfield but Beckerman will the be the anchor as a DM. Jones has freedom but is also more of a DM and Bradley will play more of a CAM than a box-to box role. Bedoya and Zusi playing down the flanks. Beckerman is slow on the ball and his stats are misleading - he does back and lateral passes but no key passes. Jones is good but prone to bad fouls. Bradley could be very good but had a terrible game against Ghana. He is probably the biggest threat still. Bedoya is all speed and medicre techinical ability, Zusi could actually be a pretty good CM but he will most likely play on the wing and cut in - he certainly won't push forward as much as Bedoya.

With Bedoya on the right pushing forward as well as Fabian Johnson playing RB whose strengths are much better going forward than defending it should open up the left flank for CR and whoever is paired at LB.

I honestly look forward to seeing the lineup that Bento rolls out because we have some great young talent and players like Moutinho and Ronaldo should thrive in an environment where everyone else will suffer from the elements simply because of their superior conditioning.
Lalas shot n the head
25 Saturday, 21 June 2014 22:08
Antonio/ Viseu
Besides this bein the b all end all for Portugal, I just wanna win so them idiots on ESPN can stfu!!!!! I'm so sick n tired of their Portugal hating. They give Portugal as much respect as the cavaliers get n the NBA. So por favor Portugal , do me a favor n manda essas filhos da p#$@ pa o cara%$# ....
we are going to advance
24 Saturday, 21 June 2014 21:23
Frank/USA
With the great result between Ghana and Germany reopened the door for Portugal to advance. With those two teams drawing it ensures that Germany will play to win in the final game against USA. Win and were in.
All we can do at this stage is pray:
23 Saturday, 21 June 2014 20:19
Ahmad/Lebanon
I am writing this comment after watching Argentina vs Iran and the first half of Germany vs Ghana. You people have no idea how much this tournament can turn around for us IN CASE we qualify to the second round. The inconsistency shown by literally every big team this tournament cannot but be considered a positive thing. The way Ghana are playing against Germany are proving more and more to me that what happened in our 4-0 loss was a clear combination of bad luck and weak Portuguese mentality.
That put aside I am still unsure about tomorrow's game against the United States, will we be unlucky yet again? Will the US be lucky for the second game in a row? Despite their win the United States are never a stronger team than Ghana in my book so if we can't beat them tomorrow or even settle for a mere draw then I definitely won't expect anything good from our third and final game vs Ghana. In addition, Carvalho's absence is worrying me to an extent that I am unable to muster any ounce of confidence before the game anymore; this is as if I am constantly convincing myself that without Coentrao Ronaldo can't perform as well and without Ronaldo at his best Portugal won't be at its best. I know I might be wrong but I just can;t help myself from thinking that way, the 4-0 hammering against Germany took its toll on me.
Also it seems our backline will encounter drastic changes as Pepe, Alves and Coentrao won't play tomorrow while Pereira, the only Portuguese player that I don't trust one bit, is still available to play. This means that to beat the US our attack needs to be on full alert, we need to psyche the Americans out, they're heading into this game with a 3 point advantage over us, logically they should be more relaxed than us.

Finally I need to address the issue of Cristiano Ronaldo, the guy just has to score. I usually don't really care about Ronaldo scoring as long as Portugal win but this time it is more than important that Ronaldo not only plays very well but also help score the decisive goal/goals for Portugal tomorrow. Ronaldo is a player who build up on momentum that he carries game after game, if he scores in a game be sure that he'll replicate his performance in the second and that's just what we need. He literally did nothing against Germany and he needs to remind himself that his goals are the difference maker in any game. We need the Ronaldo that played against Sweden back, oh and the Moutinho of that tie as well while we're at it.

I predict a very hard 1-0 win, hopefully Ronaldo to score it. Believe.
Portugal needs to make a statement vs. USA
22 Saturday, 21 June 2014 20:10
J. Gomes, Murillo/Canada
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think this is a watershed game for Portugal. After the debacle vs. Germany, the Selecção needs to make a grand statement. Not merely win Sunday, but win emphatically and by a comfortable scoreline.
This match will decide more than Portugal's 2014 World Cup participation; I think it's really about the whole future of Portuguese football at the international level. I'm convinced the players know what needs to be done against a hard-working but pedestrian American side. Question is: when the chips are down, can this group pull it off? If not, is the nation condemned to second-tier status?
Sunday will not be merely about CR7 cementing his status as the best player in the world. He can be a sideline figure and the rest of the squad should take care of the US. That's how wide I see the gulf in talent between these two teams. But, as we know and as we've seen so far at this World Cup, form counts for nothing from one game to the next.
I am quietly confident Portugal will get the result they need. Yes, a lot can go wrong and they've often been the authors of their own demise, but I think they can have a bounce-back game.
Similar questions were being asked of them in the playoff vs. Sweden. Thy were under the gun, but we know what they did there. They rose to the occasion. I expect a similar performance of the highest standard vs. the US.
If not, there'll be a lot of angst and soul-searching, a la England and Spain.
While watching Germany/Ghana
21 Saturday, 21 June 2014 19:59
João/Holanda
I think we'll have to prepare ourselves for being the next Spain and England. A weak but big named team that goes out in the group stages.
Injuries
20 Saturday, 21 June 2014 17:26
Just a fan
I'm not sure how many of you poor souls (like myself) have to watch the world cup living in America and be suffocated by the media's obsession with Portuguese injuries. What's funny is not one thing about Jozy Altidores injury was posted on this site and I'm very happy about that. It's so pathetic to me how the American media now love there odds against Portugal because of injuries I mean wow how pathetic is that? I'm mainly talking about the world cup panel with Bob ley and Alexis lalas. It would be so great to beat the USA. To stop all this talk of benefit from injuries and pety things like that. It's really low even for the media. This team has plenty of quality eder looked better than almeida and I also love postiga strictly for his clutch factor. A. Almeida played really well in Coentraos absense and I thought Ricardo Costa played well for pepe. If alves is injured I wouldn't mind seeing neto and then William at DM.

I swear it blew my mind when I saw this on tv. I was watching fox sports news and some ignorant female anchor came on and actually reported the false report of ronaldos doctor warning him not to play because the risk of a career ending injury. She then proposed said false report to a former soccer player sitting next to her. The guy looked so confused like he knew is was all a charade but he said that Ronaldo will be fine and she looked at him like "why didn't you reinforce this false information to the viewers so they can think ronaldo won't play". Aside from how pathetic that was I still was thinking that Portugal would beat USA whether they had ronaldo or not. There is too much quality on this team not to beat USA. The good news is after this game all this will hopefully stop. It only seems right that Portugal wins this game because of all the pety injury reports and the hope that portugals key players can't play due to injury. I mean that is so low karma has to come around in the form of Portugal thrashing USA.
Well, forget about anything different from Bento
19 Saturday, 21 June 2014 16:24
Tony/Turlock, CA
Looks like our favorite village idiot Bento is keeping Carvalho on the bench and Veloso as the holding mid.

http://www.espnfc.com/team/portugal/482/blog/post/1896185/brassell-portugal-focus-on-defence

The article also has Beto starting in goal over Eduardo (questionable) and Almeida starting at left back (inexcusable).

Needless to say this tournament is just about done. Bento can not be fired soon enough! Sad we wasted the absolute prime of the best player this country has ever produced with one of the worst coaches the game has ever seen. Bravo
Sunday
18 Saturday, 21 June 2014 16:10
Nelson / Canada / Burlington
First off, I've always posted as Nelson Canada but with all the Nelson's on here I feel I should add my city too to avoid confusion.

I've been confident and afraid of this next game along with any other feeling you could imagine the last few days. I read somewhere (maybe here?) that lalas said something to the effect that the "selecao was a wounded animal that the US should put down" this comment has me fired up. We are down (really down) but show some respect! Shit like that is easy to say when you are no longer on the pitch. I have nothing against the USMNT and I wish them luck, it's the media as others have mentioned that are incompetent at times, and more than that don't always show the beautiful game the respect it deserves.

I hope the selecao puts up the fight of their lives on Sunday to give us all something to celebrate. This animal is wounded but far from dead. We have spirit, heart, and talent. Forca selecao!!! Stay the course, keep your composure and know that you have 90+ minutes to make something happen. If you lose some battles early on, remember that the heat/humidity will wear both sides down. We defend and counter attack, those counter attacks will be more successful late in the game. We have the more talented team and the US will hustle early on. Once they get tired this wounded animal needs to attack!!!!! Forca Forca Forca!
Portugal lineup
17 Saturday, 21 June 2014 15:49
lusiads/Canada
I agree almost completely with Larry.

While I’m not convinced starting Carvalho over Veloso is the way to go in the midfield on Sunday many people on this site are so I have to at least respect the masses. That said, given the combinations of suspensions and injuries facing Portugal in this upcoming game started both Veloso and Carvalho may be our best option. Here is how I would lineup against the States.

Goal

Eduardo. Great in friendlies before the world cup, Patricio is injured and while not at fault for at least three of the goals was still shaky in net)

Back four:

Perrieira Alves Neto Veloso.

This back four assumes that Alves is healthy. Also I don’t watch the Ukaine league so I’m not sure if Veloso has played any left back of late, I know he has experience in that spot. The obvious choice for many is Almeida here, and going forward (euro 2016), he will be a good choice but he looked shacky against the Germans and made a major blunder of indecision and hesitancy which left Patricio out to dry on one of the goals. With only 6 caps under his belt and after that mistake I can see him thinking too much on Sunday. Amorin is a possibility but he usually plays right back when called upon defensively in the back four.

Costa would be my go too sub if one of these four gets tired or injured. He can play all four positions at the back and while not a world beater he is experienced. He could also come in as a 5th defender he we want to really park the bus late.

Midfield

Carvalho Moutinho and Meireles.

With Carvalho shoring up the defence, MEireles can be more adventurous offensively especially if we hope to strike early (as some have suggested) due to the heat in manaus. Mountinho of course is a lock.

If we are leading late and want to preserve the lead than Amorin can come in for Meireles who is the most likely to get tired in Manaus. If we are losing or tired than Rafa is our only option. IF we really need to score we could also bring on another forward for Carvalho (I can hear many screaming as I write this) and move Veloso back to the DM spot. However if we are in this sort of desperate situation we are probably toast already.

Forwards

Ronaldo Eder Nani

Roanldo - goes without saying. Postiga had too poor a season and does not have the physical tools or fitness to go the full 90. Having Eder start you get a more physical and athletic presence and a guy that can go the full 90 need be. I’d hate to have to take out Postiga at 60-70min because he just can’t keep up and lose a substitution. Nani still has the most quality compared to Varela and Veirinha however baring crazy circumstances like in the last game, he is a sure substitute late in the game whether we are winning or losing.

That all said I can see Bento being more conventional and simply starting Veloso at DM and putting Almeida at left back. With Carvalho a sub if we get the lead. But I think my above scenario, assuming Veloso can handle left back responsibilities and that Alves can go, gives our depleted lineup much more flexibility and options.
USA/Portugal
16 Saturday, 21 June 2014 14:25
tom/USA
"A nation of 10 million vs the corporate media shills"

FIFA rules certainly define who can play for teams and that is fine but some USA players really aren't very connected to the homeland with this team. I've enjoyed whatever USA players in the past and present, Tony Meola, Alexi Lalas, Dempsey, McBride or Donovan. It's not for me to be a judge but some of these new players have English for their 2nd language and learned their trade in the German system. That doesn't seem real American but as I said, who am I to judge?
No Excuses, Just Get It Done
15 Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:50
NJ/USA/SLB
If we play to our capabities, even with a the injuries, Portugal should defeat the US.
That being said the conditions, weather and field, could be a big equalizer. The US won't be as adventurous as they were verse Ghana. The humidity and poor field surface will help them in detaining Portuguese progress.
The US looked exhausted after the Ghana match, but Portuguese players that are out of form or have a lot of miles on their legs, worry me in these conditions.
Bento will do whatever he sees fit. No matter what, no excuses, it's a must win. This is the squad he picked and it's his job to get the players ready and set up to win.

Forca Portugal

On a side note, let's hope Germany defeats Ghana so they're out. Don't need to face a Ghana squad with hope.
Projected lineup?
14 Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:13
Larry USA
Heard ALVES is out also - another huge loss due to injury. This World Cup hasn't been easy, but like someone just mentioned Portugal play well when they are up against diversity. People need to lay off Bento, the guy has done a fantastic job for us even through all these injuries and "stupid" suspensions. It isn't his fault players are getting hurt. I have a good feeling about this next game. I'd like to see this lineup..Eduardo I'm net w Neto and Costa lineup in the back with Andre Almedia and Perreria as the L/R backs. Defensive mid, this is a crucial do or die game, and experience is needed. Bento will def start Veloso. The other two mids are def Mourinho and Raul M. The wings... Well we all know those spots belong to.. CR7 and Nani. Upfront bento needs to throw in Eder, he's fast aggressive and will surprise and test the back four
Of the USA. It'll be very interesting to see what happens but I'm confident! Let's get these 3 points!
forca portugal weoooooooooo
13 Saturday, 21 June 2014 11:29
tomtom
edwardo
almeida costa neto veloso all top players need to understand and support eachother
william power house needs to e the ball go faster
jp amazing lets get he ball rolling raul starts but ruben comes in when hes tired
varela 1st half nani second tricks littel fucker
cr7 and postiga or eder but also sub needed i like postiga hes tricks too... forca portugal .... we can do this support lets do this ...
Line up + formation
12 Saturday, 21 June 2014 11:27
Kennedy
Beto
Perreira Alves Neto Almeida
Carvalho Veloso

Nani. Moutinho. Ronaldo
Any striker
Formation 4-2-3-1
USA to go down!
11 Saturday, 21 June 2014 10:00
Paulo\Australia
I've never like Bento , but now isnt the time to put the sword into him. It is the time though to earn his worth.
He must adapt and use the players he used in the lead up games without ronaldo. We looked good!
Im confident we can put the USA its in place.
Match Speculation
10 Saturday, 21 June 2014 09:47
NAVID/BANGLADESH
At this moment we are in a great problem.So we have to work hard to recover this situation.we have believe that we will win the match. INSHALLA Selecao will win the match against USA....... Pray to almighty for Cristiano ronaldo. He is our main hope.
CONCACAF
9 Saturday, 21 June 2014 09:39
Joao De Bacalhau/Canada
Mexico has the most individual quality of any team in their confederation, not the USA. Although it's somewhat relatively close. Mexico takes the cake for most people.

The USA just gels well together as team. It doesn't mean they have the most individual quality in their confederation.
William Carvalho MUST play
8 Saturday, 21 June 2014 07:17
Adam/Canada
He is one of the most sought after young defensive midfielders in Europe. Almost every team, NEEDS that type of player, and Portugal desperately needs it as well.

I am still shocked he was left on the bench...If I don't see his name on the lineup and U.S.A. cuts through our midfield like butter, then I'm sorry to be cliche, but who are we to blame?
Repling to Above Post
7 Saturday, 21 June 2014 05:21
Fabian/Switzerland
You say the US team's main goal during training camp was fitness in the heat? Countless US players were cramping and looked very tired (2 pulled hamstrings). If that was the focus of their camp it sure didn't look very successful in the match against Ghana.
game only game
6 Saturday, 21 June 2014 04:06
hareesh,kerala/india
Unlike portugal usa is the team with more self confidence and killer instinct.they have no hesitation to play long rangers like us and their cool style of play will give them clear advantage.a team with cool head will win.
Manaus+ Tactics and Tempo
5 Saturday, 21 June 2014 03:45
MDCViolenes- NY, USA
Looks like this is it, Nathan, thanks as always for the analysis. One interesting thing that I would like to point out is the tactics coupled with the environmental conditions in Manaus. Bento and the squad have to play this absolutely spot on, because I can attest to playing football in high humidity-- not to compare myself to professionals, but conditions that dehydrate are nothing to laugh off.

Long explanation short, Portugal has to hit early in this match-- the earlier, the better. If the USA packs the midfield trying to posses the ball and make us chase it around, the longer it takes to score plus the humidity/ heat will make things more demoralising and difficult the longer the game goes on. Once the mind goes, physical coordination and sharpness follows-- we cannot lose the psychological battle here. Tony you're right, we have to come out and go for the win, but we have to put ourselves in a position to not get too excited and overexert in those conditions if they are that bad. We need be dominant in the midfield and make them come after it. I don't see any other way in Manaus.

Portugal has to take a cue from both Italy and Spain in this World Cup. Look at how Italy controlled the game vs. England in Manaus, they possessed the ball better and controlled the tempo, even though England still had to chase the game most of the second half. We can't be getting overrun in the midfield like we did against Germany. And in terms of Espanha-- I hope coach let's some of his loyalties go and introduces some of the younger guys into this game. I understand this is a high pressure game, but these guys are all pros-- the pressure/ big game excuse is not one I always understand. I hope above all other changes Bento may consider (save for Eder at striker) that William will start at DM. Someone adept at breaking up play and distributing passes well is what we need, and William is best suited to that over Miguel. I hope to see us stay in the oppo half, and we need a DM with more presence to help us stay there. We need to take cues from the games we played against Spain as well, we pressed them high keeping their midfielders under pressure. Like I've said, the US has hearts of lions but they still aren't yet as technically gifted as some of the better sides in the world. Press their mids and they can sometimes have difficulty with errant touches, misplaced passes etc. Like anyone else.

Really though, in difficult environmental conditions it's like Nathan said-- it will be a test of will. This will play into USA's hands so it's up to the Selecção to be the better side tactically and technically. But trust me, they have to press early, as coming out flat or waiting for something to happen in Manaus will make things incredibly difficult for Portugal to get a result out of this one. I'm tired of the media coverage as well, ESPN has done a decent job here in the States but the commentary on Portugal is really embarrassing. We've earned other countries' respect in world football, but were you tuning in to ESPN or major news networks all day you would think Cristiano was the only competent player the Selecção have. I hope the players know this to some degree. I'd be ticked off, and locked in for this game were I them. I'm pretty taken aback by the growing arrogance of the media here too-- Portugal are akin to a 'wounded' team that need to be put down/ out of their misery now. All the misinformation on the Portugal camp/ injuries as Nathan said is irritating too, as it makes us look weak and searching for excuses. No predictions, I'm just hoping for a great match and that we play to the utmost of our abilities, worthy of the name, as well as the red and green. If we keep our heads, we'll be fine. Hopefully the Germany match was a learning experience. Força Das Quinas.
Portugal-USA
4 Saturday, 21 June 2014 03:20
jon/usa
Even without Pepe and Coentrao, Portugal have more than enough quality to defeat the USMNT, but I am still not convinced that they will be able to recover from such a humiliating defeat against the Germans. The Americans on the other hand are coming off of a crucial, morale boosting victory against Ghana. They are young, fearless, disciplined, and extremely fit. Portugal certainly have a far more talented squad on paper, but the US is more than capable of grinding out a hard-fought victory against our wounded and potentially demoralized Seleccao.

Nevertheless, as we all know, Portugal tends to bring their A game when their backs are up against the wall. Barring a minor miracle against Ghana, anything less than 3 points against the US would all but end Portugal's chances of moving on to the round of 16. There is simply no room for error. Given the quality Bento has at his disposal - regardless of the injuries and suspensions - crashing out of the tournament after just two games would be absolutely unacceptable.

Knowing that a draw would leave the US in an excellent position to qualify, I am expecting Jurgen Klinsmann to take a more pragmatic, conservative approach to this game. They will likely sit back, clog the midfield, and look to exploit our defense's immobility on the counter. The US may be limited in terms of their technical ability, but they are always a tough team to beat in international tournaments.

Cristiano Ronaldo's performance will likely decide the outcome of what is likely going to be an extremely tight, cagey encounter. Ronaldo is capable of winning games single-handedly if he is anywhere near his best, but if the Americans do manage to contain him (not an easy task by any means) they'll have a great chance of getting a positive result - and even a win - if they capitalize on their chances.

Bento will undoubtedly implement his favored 4-3-3, but several spots including goalkeeper, left-back, center-back, defensive midfielder, and center-forward are all still up for grabs. I am hoping and praying that we'll see Eder and William in the starting 11, but knowing Bento, it's unlikely...

I'm trying my very best to stay optimistic, but I've got a terrible feeling that this match will end in a draw. Hopefully they'll prove me wrong!

FORCA PORTUGAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pragmatic but positive
3 Saturday, 21 June 2014 02:19
Dave Los Angeles
Portugal ! Portugal! Portugal!
This upcoming victory over the USA is dedicated to all the ESPN clowns who said that the USA have a 10% chance to win it all. I know these fools are beholden to ratings and ad dollars but let's keep all the hyperbole under control.

Portugal 2
USA 0

A nation of 10 million vs the corporate media shills

Da nesses sacanas!!!
Please Portugal
2 Saturday, 21 June 2014 02:13
Tam/Portugal
Please lads, make me happy on Sunday. I'm praying for a good win with Ronaldo scoring
We need to go for it!
1 Saturday, 21 June 2014 01:32
Tony/Turlock, CA
Being an American, I have a friend who works for the USA National team as a kit man and he told me today that the USA national team just arrived in Manaus and the heat and humidity is unbearable but that the team's main training camp focus was fitness in the heat. Ours clearly was not.

Needless to say, we couldn't have more things going against us for this crucial game.

I think Bento needs to really pull out something special which unfortunately would require him to change into a different person since he is a stubborn old mule.

If I were Bento I would realize a few things.

1. Ronaldo is unfit and even when fit doesn't play defense
2. We literally have no fullbacks
3. We have to press USA

With all those factors considered a radical tactical rethink is needed.

Versus the USA Sunday I would play a 3-5-2.

...........................Eduardo

.....Neto..................Alves.............Costa

..........................Carvalho

Verinhia.........Moutinho........Meireles......Nani

..................................Ronaldo

...............................Eder


We must press them high, Ronaldo must have no defensive Responsibility and a free unmarkable role, Nani needs to play on the left so he can combine with Ronaldo, Carvalho must start and we must go for it!

We must play the game in their half. USA is going to sit in anyway knowing a draw gets them through. Plus their best forward is injured. Fuck being conservative. We do this shit evety time and it gets behind the 8 ball very time. I'm tired of it. Show some fucken soccer brain Bento and adjust!

Regardless, I know Bento is gonna roll out a 4-3-3, we are gonna cross a thousand times to no one, USA is going to counter us and the referee will fuck us at least once. It's too easy to predict.

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