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Frustration abounds for unfortunate Portugal

Published: Friday 27 June 2014, 15.46CET
Hugo Pietra in Lisbon examines Portugal's time at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a short-lived campaign blighted by injuries, a dismal start and an off-colour Cristiano Ronaldo.
by Hugo Pietra
from Lisbon

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Published: Friday 27 June 2014, 15.46CET

Frustration abounds for unfortunate Portugal

Hugo Pietra in Lisbon examines Portugal's time at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a short-lived campaign blighted by injuries, a dismal start and an off-colour Cristiano Ronaldo.

Were expectations met?
Portugal's qualification via the play-offs should have served as a warning for the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finalists. Captain and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo scored all four of Portugal's goals in that play-off tie against Sweden and, bearing in mind the 29-year-old's record-breaking season for Real Madrid CF, qualification from the group stage was considered a minimum requirement. However, the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner came into the tournament with a knee problem, while further injuries – to the likes of Fábio Coentrão, Hugo Almeida, Hélder Postiga and Rui Patrício – as well as Pepe's dismissal against Germany, blighted Portugal's campaign.

Group G: Portugal 0-4 Germany
Group G: Portugal 2-2 United States
Group G: Portugal 2-1 Ghana

What the media say
A Bola: Frustration. Portugal were simply unable to score the goals that would have taken them through to the next stage.

Record: Cristiano Ronaldo after elimination: "It was possible after all." The captain scored his 50th goal [against Ghana] but missed four opportunities.

What they say
Paulo Bento: "The overall analysis is negative as we did not achieve the main goal we had for the tournament [to go through the group stage]. After the three matches we probably deserve what we got; the two teams that go through deserve it. We were too affected by the first game as it had a big impact on the team despite the good reaction in the following matches."

©Getty Images

Nani impressed for Portugal

Positives
Portugal did not start well, with that embarrassing defeat by Germany, but the team gradually improved despite the injuries and Pepe's suspension. Against Ghana they were better defensively and in attack as they created many opportunities to score. Manchester United FC's Nani was in good shape and Ronaldo improved each match, giving the impression he was gradually reaching the form he showed in that play-off.

Room for improvement
Conceding seven goals in three matches highlighted Portugal's need to solidify at the back. Pepe's red card in the first game and Coentrão's injury did not help as the team is short of back-up options. In attack, the Selecção were unfortunate in the sense that Almeida and Postiga suffered minor ailments, while Éder could not offer what was needed.

Emerging talent
William Carvalho started the competition on the bench, with Paulo Bento relying on the experience of Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho and Raul Meireles. However, André Almeida's injury against the United States prompted Bento to move Veloso to left-back and bring Carvalho into midfield. The 22-year-old Sporting Clube de Portugal player added strength and passing ability in the middle, with SL Benfica's Rúben Amorim an able assistant against Ghana.

European Qualifiers
Portugal kick off UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group I at home to Albania on 7 September. In a section also featuring Denmark, Serbia and Armenia, Portugal will look to re-establish their reputation as one of the continent's top teams.

Last updated: 30/06/14 14.10CET

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