As the EURO 2012 approaches, Extratime.ie will take an indepth look into each participating team. Christopher Davey looks at the EURO 2012 Group B side Portugal.
The only surprises in Portugal's squad announced this week are the inclusion of uncapped pair Miguel Lopes and Custódio, both who play for Braga. Custódio and Lopes, were both rewarded for their fine form for a Braga side that have qualified for the Champions League this year, however the exclusion of their established teammate Hugo Viana has raised some eyebrows.
"Custódio and Lopes have been in excellent form for their clubs during the second half of the season," said Portuguese manager Paulo Bento.
"Custódio has different characteristics from the other midfielders. Hugo Viana is a good player, but we feel that with our style of play he doesn't fit in our 23. Lopes showed strength both in defence and attack and can operate on both flanks."
They however are not the only relative rookies in Bento's squad. Nélson Oliveira from Benfica has only played 10 minutes of football for the national side, getting his only cap as an 80th minute for Nani in a recent friendly against tournament hosts Poland.
Goalkeepers: Eduardo (SL Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Beto (CFR 1907 Cluj).
Defenders: João Pereira (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid CF), Bruno Alves (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Rolando (FC Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia CF), Pepe (Real Madrid CF), Miguel Lopes (SC Braga).
Midfielders: Raúl Meireles (Chelsea FC), Miguel Veloso (Genoa CFC), João Moutinho (FC Porto), Rúben Micael (Real Zaragoza), Carlos Martins (Granada CF), Custódio (SC Braga).
Forwards: Nani (Manchester United FC), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas JK), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas JK), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nélson Oliveira (SL Benfica).
To put it quite simply, Portugal will play in June after qualifying by the skin of their teeth. Their Group H campaign began under the stewardship of former Real Madrid manager Carlos Quieroz and stuttered at the low first hurdle. An 89th minute equaliser from Andreas Avraam meant that Portugal picked up only one point from the opening fixture against Cyprus. They then slumped to a 1-0 away loss against Norway only four days after this, a result which meant that this was the worst start of a qualifying campaign for the Portuguese national team since 1996.
The national team was then plunged into further turmoil when Quieroz was dismissed by the FPF. The sacking came about a week after he was suspended for six months for disrupting an anti-doping test in May 2010. Quieroz's replacement came in the form of Paulo Bento, but alas the disruption in the Portuguese camp didn't end there.
Bento's disputes with both Ricardo Carvalho and José Bosingwa, which saw both leave the camp, left a small blemish on the rest of Bento's reign in the campaign.
He began life at the helm in victorious fashion, with successive 3-1 victories against both home to Denmark and away to Iceland before well and truly signalling that they were back in the hunt for automatic qualification after extending this win streak to five games. This was achieved by a 1-0 win at home against Norway, reversing the away result in Oslo earlier in the campaign, a 4-0 demolition against the Cypriots in Nicosia and a 5-3 win at home to Iceland.
This tremendous run of form left Portugal in the position where a win against Denmark away from home would have secured automatic qualification to this year's tournament, a draw would see them in the playoffs or a loss combined with a Norway win against Cyrpus would see them in a head to head against the Norwegians. However, Denmark dispatched of Bento's men 2-1 to secure their own place in Euro 2012.
Portugal tied on all fronts on a head-to-head with Norway qualified for the playoffs based on a superior goal difference overall in the qualifying group.
Seeded in the draw, Portugal were drawn against Bosnia and Herzegovina with the first leg to take place in Zenica. A nervy 0-0 draw in Bosnia and Herzegovina's fourth city was followed by a 6-2 demolition of the
Bosnians in Lisbon to finally see the Portuguese qualify for the European Championships.
Cristiano Ronaldo led the Portuguese goalscoring charts with seven goals, while also taking more shots on goal and shots on target than anyone else in qualifying with a staggering 41 shots in total and 23 shots on target.
Portugal's hopes of getting out of their group and succeeding hinge almost solely on the performances of their 27 year old captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has been in sensational form of late, scoring against every team he's faced for Real Madrid this season bar one, Dinamo Zagreb. From 55 appearances in all competitions, he's scored 60 goals and has a goal per game ratio of exactly one in the Champions League.
The reputation he gained as a person who doesn't perform against the big teams has been well and truly banished after his performance in the Nou Camp against Barcelona in which he helped Madrid to their first La Liga title under manager José Mourinho.
Ronaldo is proving himself on the international stage as well. He's currently tied third on Portugal's all time goalscoring charts along with Luis Figo with 32 goals and looks certainly capable of catching Pauleta's record of 47 international goals considering the form he is in for both club and country at the moment.
Also key to Portugal's chances will be Chelsea's Raul Meireles coupled with Porto's João Moutinho in the midfield. In order to control the midfield and maximise their chances of getting out of the group, these
two will have to be at their best and battle against the Dutch and Germans.
Group B is without a doubt the group to watch this June and getting out of it will be tough for anyone of the four teams in it. Portugal will be the only team in the group without a previous tournament win. Featuring Germany, one of the pre-tournament favourites along with the Netherlands and Denmark, it's sure to present games that will certainly have you texting your girlfriend to tell her that you've a stack of "work" to be doing.
The FPF chose the Hotel Remes Sport & Spa in Opalenica, Poland as the base for their duration of the Championships despite the fact that their group games will be all played in Ukraine. They will be able to use pitches alongside the hotel along with a gym and recreation which will compliment their usage of the Municipal Stadium Opalenica as their training base.
Placed in Group B, they open their tournament with a game against Germany in the Arena Lviv in Lviv, Ukraine on the 9th of June. Six days later they will again travel the 706 km between Opalenica and Lviv where they will take on Denmark. They'll conclude their group games on the 17th of June with a game against the Netherlands in sure to be showdown game the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 1566 km from their base in Opalenica.
- The Portuguese have only qualified for four out of the 14 European Championships, with their final appearance in 2004 being the furthest that the side have reached in the European Championships. They're also the only side to be beaten by the same team twice in the same tournament within 90 minutes, when they were beaten by Greece in both the opening and closing games of the 2004 tournament.
- Portugal have conceded the most goals of any team to have qualified for this year's tournament, conceding 14 goals on their way to Poland and Ukraine, an average of 1.4 goals per game.
- The nickname of the national side is Selecção das Quinas, which translates as "Selection of Five". This refers back to the five shields which are on the FPF crest.
Out of their five most recent fixtures, Portugal have only won two matches.
A 5-3 victory against Iceland was the last win of their five game winning streak in Group H, while in their final group fixture they lost 2-1 to Denmark.
In the playoff games, a 0-0 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina away from home was followed by a 6-2 demolition in Lisbo to see the Portuguese through to the Championships.
In their most recent fixture, they ground out a 0-0 draw against tournament hosts Poland in Warsaw.
is a full time Physics student in Trinity College Dublin, but his deep love of all things football is one that simply has to show somewhere. You can contact Christopher on Twitter @ChristopherDavy