UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Portugal
Monday, March 8, 2021
We continue our look at the history and pedigree of all 24 UEFA EURO 2020 contenders. Next up: Portugal.
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Previous final tournaments: 7
EURO best: winners (2016)
They only reached the finals for the first time in 1984 – at their seventh attempt – but Portugal have been ever-presents since EURO '96 and have only missed out on the semi-finals once since EURO 2004. As hosts, Portugal lost that 2004 final 1-0 against outsiders Greece, yet they made amends 12 years later by overcoming home side France in the 2016 decider, Éder's extra-time goal sparking a national celebration.
Cristiano Ronaldo (170 caps, 102 goals)
Europe's all-time most-capped player and top international scorer, the No7 is Portugal's captain and leader – and he remains as lethal as ever at 36. The leading scorer in EURO qualifiers is also the finals' joint-top marksman (sharing that nine-goal record with Michel Platini). He will want to make the record his own at EURO 2020.
Bruno Fernandes (25 caps, 2 goals)
After emerging at Sporting CP, the energetic attacking midfielder has moved up to a new level since signing for Manchester United. With a powerful, accurate shot from distance, and a willingness to create, he was directly involved in 53 goals in his first 61 games for the Red Devils. No surprise that he continues to grow in stature for the national team.
Memorable EURO goals
• Two-nil down after 18 minutes of their EURO 2000 opener against England, Portugal responded fast, Luís Figo receiving the ball on halfway, bursting down the middle and sending an unstoppable shot into David Seaman’s top corner, sparking a remarkable comeback success.
• Needing victory against Spain in their final group game to get to the 2004 quarter-finals, Portugal endured a tense first half before Nuno Gomes collected the ball with back to goal and turned to beat Iker Casillas with a low strike from the edge of the box. The 1-0 win took his side through at their neighbours' expense.
• The EURO 2016 final brought the most important goal in the history of the Portuguese national team. Éder had played just 13 minutes at the finals, but the substitute won the match with a beautifully-taken shot from outside the area.
• Ricardo taking off his gloves during the 2004 quarter-final shoot-out against England before saving Darius Vassell's spot kick, and then converting the shoot-out winner himself.
• Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's plea to the nation during EURO 2004 to hang flags outside their homes as a sign of support for the squad. It was a campaign that caught the popular imagination, prompting incredible scenes on the day of the final as thousands lined the streets to back the team as they travelled from Alcochete to Lisbon.
• Cristiano Ronaldo's tears when he was taken off with a knee injury in the 2016 final. Instead of crumbling, the side pulled together, Ronaldo urging them on from the touchline and even giving instructions alongside coach Fernando Santos, as Portugal earned a backs-to-the-wall victory.
Most final tournament appearances
21: Cristiano Ronaldo
15: Pepe, João Moutinho, Nani
14: Luís Figo, Nuno Gomes
Most final tournament goals
9: Cristiano Ronaldo
6: Nuno Gomes
3: Nani, Hélder Postiga, Sérgio Conceição
Killer stat: Cristiano Ronaldo has played in more EUROs (4) and in more EURO finals matches (21) than any other player, and he is the only player to have scored in four editions.
Did you know?
• Portugal are the only team to have denied two reigning champions victory in the first finals game of their title defence – holding 1980 title winners West Germany in their EURO '84 opener, then frustrating 1992 champions Denmark in their EURO '96 curtain-raiser.
• Fernando Santos's Portugal triumphed at EURO 2016 despite not winning a single game in the group stage: a notable first.
• Portugal’s five goals during EURO '96 were scored by five different players; they went two better at EURO 2008, with seven goals and seven scorers.