The 2018 World Cup has begun and Portugal fans are excited to see if the Euro 2016 champions can bring glory yet again to Portugal's soccer fandom. Here's some fun facts you should know about the Seleção Nacional going into the tournament.
1. Portugal's national soccer team has been preparing for the World Cup at Cidade de Futebol, built shortly before their Euro 2016 appearance. Located outside of Lisbon, the architecturally stunning complex houses the team’s headquarters, football technical center, logistics center, three soccer fields, and a goalkeeper training field.
2. Portugal will be looking to become only the fourth country to hold both the World Cup and European Championship titles. The last team to do so was Spain, winning the 2008 European Championship, 2010 World Cup, and then the European Championship again in 2012.
3. Portugal qualified for the World Cup by winning nine out of ten qualifying games and finishing at the top of their group, just edging out Switzerland.
4. This is Portugal’s seventh appearance at the World Cup and although they’re the reigning European champions, their odds are only 22/1 to win. That being said, Portugal literally beat the odds to become the victors of Euro 2016 over France. At the start of the tournament, their odds to win were 20/1, while France’s odds were 7/2.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t scored in 340 min of play against Spain. Here’s to hoping he can break the streak in Portugal’s game against Spain on Friday, June 15. *Update: Ronaldo broke his dry spell against Spain, scoring a hat-trick (3 goals) in the June 15 match!
6. Portugal’s best achievement in any World Cup tournament so far was a third place win in 1966.
7. The three central defenders Pepe, Jose Fonte, and Bruno Alves have a combined age of over 100 years! Due to their age, they’re not expected to return in the next World Cup. With age comes wisdom though, so we’re confident they can outsmart their competitors’ offensive strategy this tournament.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo may be the superstar of the Seleção Nacional, finishing the 2018 World Cup qualifying round as the #2 top scorer with 15 goals. However, 22 year-old André Silva isn’t far behind. He was the fourth highest scorer with 9 goals. He’s also the youngest Portuguese player to score a hat-trick for the national team.
9. Portugal coach, Fernando Santos, played professional soccer in Portugal for four years before retiring at age 21. Before his professional career, he also played in S.L. Benfica’s youth level.
10. Eder, the man to score the game-winning goal in the Euro 2016 final against France is not included in the team’s roster for this tournament, but here’s who is:
GOALKEEPERS: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Goztepe), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)
DEFENDERS: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)
MIDFIELDERS: Adrien Silva (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Mario (West Ham), Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalho (Sporting)
FORWARDS: Andre Silva (AC Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)