Portugal is a national side that, for many years, never made it through
the qualifying rounds to World and European Championships, exception
made to the third place in England's 1966 World Cup, a third place in
France's European Championship in 1984 and another participation in the
1986 World Cup in Mexico and 1996 Euro. Normally with very good players,
it's a very poor record. Since Portugal was Youth World Champions in
1989 and 1991, the tendency seems to be changing. We seem to be on our
way to become "regular customers" in these international events. The
present Portuguese National team is probably the best one since Eusebio's
With most of its players playing abroad that seemed to bring a more
consistent type of football, more professional. The team defends better
now, with players like Jorge Costa or Fernando Couto that are more
aggressive, accompanied by a very strong and working midfield, where
players like Paulo Sousa, Paulo Bento, Vidigal and Costinha give a
great deal of strength to our game and are able to cover our creative
midfielders such as Figo and Rui Costa.
The attack will always be our greatest fault and its now even because
of lack of quality. Nuno Gomes as scored 18 goals in the Portuguese
league and Pauleta 8 for the Spanish Champions Deportivo La Coruņa.
There is an ancient tradition of NOT scoring in the National side
Portugal likes to play without pressure. They like to have the ball,
pass it around, not always in the direction of the opposite's goal.
The coach, Humberto Coelho, is a pressing fan. By recovering the ball
very quickly and immediately counter attack, makes the game faster,
and originates a great deal of offensive superiority. Rui Costa is
excellent passing the ball, with a game vision near to perfection,
is able to discover passing lines that are almost "half-a-goal".
Due to the lack of height, this team doesn't like to play in continuous
attack therefore, it's hard for them to come from behind, and turn
around a bad result.
With some exceptions, all the players own a very refined technique and
are very strong in one-on-one situations, specially from the midfield
forward, which makes them deadly on the counter attack and allows them
to unbalance the defences and open lots of spaces in the attacking
line. (Normally missing the goal ;-) )
In the last friendly match, Portugal lost to Italy 2-0, which doesn't
really express what happened on the pitch. Portugal played very well
(as did Italy), creating some very good chances, but missing incredibly.
The game was a great test to the team's capability to play with World
Class contenders and was very encouraging in terms of the football
played, but the final result opened old hounds, with another goalless
The previous game showed a very confident side, against a Danish team
that likes to pressure, plays rough (but fair), but has a rather static
defence. With two very tall central defenders, the Portuguese were able
to force their way in their defence dribbling and carrying the ball in
The result, was a 2-1 victory, against a very difficult side that gave
the players and staff good pointers for the times to come -- Good times,
we all hope!!!
The game against Belgium, one of the organizing countries, was a good
game to evaluate the team's capability to play a different kind of
football, in a pitch not worthy of any of the contenders. The result
was a draw, 1-1, in a very poor game, with little football.
GROUP A CONTENDERS
Here is one of the most powerful teams in the world. The overall score
is 5 defeats, 5 draws and 2 wins. Often pointed out was "weaker" in
the last couple of years, but I think that they're only a "sleeping
monster". Bayern Munich was the runner up in last year's Champions
League Final, and made it to the semi-finals this year. Since the German
side is traditionally composed by B.M. players, it's always a team to
consider in any competition. With a very physical and acurate football,
their game remains consistent with the German school, and remains as
dangerous as ever. It's going to be a very though game for both sides.
The key to victory is, in my opinion, being able to make the chances of
England was one of the teams that had to overcome two additional games,
after failing to qualify in their group. With a more continental
football, without the traditional longballs, England is now a far more
dangerous team that it was a couple of years ago. Despite the problems
to qualify, all the players are used to these tournaments, have a great
deal of experience and, more importantly, a great deal of quality. The
score is highly favourable to England in the matches between the two
teams, with 9 defeats, 6 draws and 2 wins for Portugal. The last game
between the two teams was a clear 3-0 victory to England, although
Portugal played a very good game. If our central defenders can control
Alan Shearer, and they must be very careful with the long distance shots
of England's midfielders, I believe that Portugal can be victorious.
This should be the "easiest" match of the group but, in this case is
only another very difficult game that was to be won. Romania has a style
of play very similar to Portugal, very technical, with fantastic
players, to whom the ball has no secrets. In the qualifying rounds,
Romania had the upper hand, winning in Portugal, in a game that they
probably didn't deserve to win, and drew at home. The score between the
two teams is a very good example of their value with 4 wins for each
side and 2 draws. I believe this could be one of the best games in the
tournament, with nice football, without very incisive markings, and both
teams playing to win. Even though neither of the two teams are
favourites in the tournament, I believe they practice the kind of
football that every fan likes to watch and enjoy.
Portugal, in the recent past, as had excellent players without ever
quite being able to make an excellent team.
The Portuguese side has many players considered "World Class" although
I'm only going to point out three of them.
VITOR BAIA - In the defence, he is the one that gives us tranquillity.
He holds the record for the most expensive goalkeeper ever in the
history of football, when he left FC Porto to play for Barcelona. He
wasn't very fortunate during his time there and returned to Porto, to
play at the levels that we were used to see him play. He his very agile,
in spite of his size, as a good sense of timing when leaving his goal.
In spite only one game played after his recovery from knee injury, he is
a key player in the team and is sure to be in the starting line up.
LUIS FIGO - He is, without a doubt, one of the "magicians" of this
team. His performances in Barcelona made him the best Portuguese player
at this time, and also the best paid. Usually he plays in support of the
attack, from his native right wing, but often wandering through the left
wing, and even in the area, what makes him one of the most offensive
midfielders of actual football. Almost unbeatable in one-on-one
situations, with a change of pace that can beat almost any defender in
the world. He is a decisive player, scoring important goals, either
through individual plays or via free kicks.
JOAO VIEIRA PINTO - Here is a player that is, everything he does is
well done. He is a littler underrated, probably because he never left
Portugal, but has the talent inherent to all great players. João Pinto
has an amazing dribble, capable of driving any defender to virtual
insanity. In the last seasons, he hasn't played at the level Benfica's
fans would expect him to perform, but has been in excellent
international form, scoring goals and giving goals. Last season, he was
the player with more assists to goal, than any other player in the
Portuguese league. Normally doesn't shy off shooting at goal from
anywhere in the front, normally with some power. Definitely a player for
defenders to watch out.
Have a great Euro 2000, without violence!!
Pedro Miguel Bastos