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The Greatest Portuguese XI Of All Time

Portugal is small in size and population when compared to other heavyweights of European football. But they have produced a plethora of great players despite being perennial underachievers. In this article, we will take a look at Portugal’s greatest XI, considering only a player’s record for the national team.

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SYSTEM: 4-4-2

GOALKEEPER: Rui Patricio

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One of the most underrated goalkeepers of all time, Rui Patricio played a crucial role in Portugal’s EURO 2016 success. Patricio debuted in 2010 for Portugal and remains their first-choice goalkeeper to this day. In the EURO 2016 quarter-final, Patricio’s shootout heroics booked a semi-final place for Portugal.

DEFENDERS : Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves, Raphael Guerreiro

Pepe has been the heart of Portugal’s defense for over a decade now. He has made 119 appearances for Portugal and has seven goals to his name. He was mostly deployed as a centre-back but in this team, he will feature as a defensive-minded right-back.

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At his prime, Carvalho was one of the world’s best defenders. Despite lacking in physical strength, Carvalho was a solid center-back and possessed the excellent ball-playing ability. Carvalho made 89 appearances for Portugal and retired after winning EURO 2016.

Partnering Carvalho in central defense is Bruno Alves, a strong defender who likes to physically impose himself. He was Portugal’s first-choice defender for EURO 2012 and made over a hundred international appearances.

Raphael Guerreiro is the youngest player in this team, but already has 50 caps to his name. Guerreiro was a revelation at left-back for Portugal during their victorious EURO 2016 campaign. He is a brilliant crosser of the ball and is renowned for his work rate.

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MIDFIELDERS: Joao Moutinho, Rui Costa, Nani, Luis Figo

Joao Moutinho is Portugal’s second most capped player, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo. He is primarily a defensive midfielder, but can play a box-to-box role if required. He made six appearances and played a pivotal role in Portugal’s EURO 2016 campaign.

Rui Costa played for Portugal in a number of midfield positions, including as a deep lying playmaker. But his best came as a classical number 10, providing defense splitting passes for the forwards. Costa made 94 appearances for Portugal and scored 26 goals.

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In Portugal’s greatest XI, Nani will play on the left side of the midfield, which will allow him to unleash his pace and dribbling skills. Nani also had a wonderful technique and a deadly outside the box shot. He made 112 appearances for Portugal and has 24 goals to his name.

The 2000 Ballon d’Or winner, Luis Figo was Portugal’s first world-class player since Eusebio. Figo was known for his ability to cut inside from the wing, but he can also play as a central attacking midfielder. Figo captained the Portugal teams that reached the final of EURO 2004 and finished fourth in the 2006 World Cup.

FORWARDS: Cristiano Ronaldo and Eusebio

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1966 World Cup was Portugal’s first appearance in the competition and Eusebio set the stage alight with nine goals. Born in Mozambique, Eusebio is regarded as Africa’s first great footballer. He scored 41 goals in 64 appearances for Portugal and should be the first name in Portugal’s greatest XI.

Eusebio’s strike partner is Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of all time. Ronaldo has 109 goals for Portugal, a record tally in international football. He captained Portugal to success in EURO 2016 and also won the UEFA Nations League in 2019. Ronaldo became a household name after EURO 2004 for scoring two goals and providing two assists. At the age of 36, Ronaldo became the oldest player to win the EURO golden boot.

 

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