2008 Portugal Euro Soccer Preview
by Doc's Sports - 04/17/2008
Portuguese football climbed quickly the instant they hired manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian that guided his country to capture the 2002 World Cup trophy. After coming onboard in 2003, he led his new side into Euro 2004, an event they hosted. This tournament went well for the Selecção das Quinas, however they lost in the final to underdog and surprise Greece.
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Two years later a more experienced Portuguese side qualified for the World Cup in Germany and further improvement came. After the further success they witnessed in Euro 2004 with Scolari, they continued in that direction. Portugal advanced past group play, knocked off the Netherlands in the Round of 16, they needed penalty kicks to defeat England in the quarterfinal, but fell to France in the semis. Portugal finished in fourth place, dropping a highly entertaining third place game to host Germany.
With impressive showings in both of the last two major tournaments, Portugal is ready to get over that final hump. They enter Euro 2008 as one of the top four favorites. This nation's last three European Championship results are this: In 1996 they reached he quarterfinals, in 2000 they got through to the semifinals and mentioned above, they made it all the way to the final in 2004. If this trend holds form, Portugal will rise to the top and claim glory as Europe's best football nation this June.
Golden Player Watch - Cristiano Ronaldo, F
Really, did you think it'd be anyone else? The 23-year-old superstar is on top of the soccer world. There aren't enough superlatives to describe the Portuguese striker. He's soccer's version of LeBron James. He does it all, and playing on arguably the world's most popular club team in Manchester United plays its part just the same. If you have seen the Red Devils in the Champions League play this season, you know he can make any defender look silly, from his dribbling and passing skills, to his ability and pace to get up and down the field and set-up himself or others for terrific goals that only he seems to be able to conjure up. He is without a doubt the best footballer in the world heading into Euro 2008.
Reason Why They Will Advance to Elimination Round
Talent. This Portuguese side has the skill to make more than just a three-game impression on this tournament. Surely all the talk will be about Cristiano Ronaldo, but this team has weapons to assist behind their top playmaker. The midfield is very capable behind the trio of Deco, Maniche and Petit. Nine current players on the roster have over 40 caps, so the valuable experience is there, not to mention all of its roster spots have footballers playing in top-flight European domestic leagues. Hoisting the trophy is ideal, but anything less than a semi-final appearance will be viewed as a true disappointment.
Group Play Schedule
Portugal vs. Turkey - June 7
Portugal vs. Czech Republic - June 11
Portugal vs. Switzerland - June 15