How Has Portugal Performed in Previous World Cups?
Whilst Portugal is currently amongst the favourites to win the World Cup, it may come as a surprise to hear that the team only qualified for the World Cup on 7 occasions before the 2022 World Cup. Their best run came in 1966, when they finished in third place, and to date they have yet to make a World Cup final.
In 1966, the World Cup was held in England and Portugal qualified for the competition after winning 4 out of their 6 qualifier matches. Placed in a group with Brazil, Hungary and Bulgaria, Portugal did extremely well to win all three games and thus advance to the knockout stage. In the quarterfinals they beat North Korea, and then lost to the host nation, England, in the semi-finals. They advanced to the third place playoff, where they beat the Soviet Union to secure a third place finish in their debut World Cup. This effort was hugely inspired by their key player, Eusebio, who managed to net 9 goals in the competition and win the golden boot award.
Portugal then had to wait 20 years before they again qualified for the World Cup. In 1986, the World Cup was held in Mexico and Portugal qualified after winning 5 of their 8 qualifying matches. Placed in a group with England, Poland, and Morocco, the Portuguese team managed to take their revenge on England, beating them 2-1, but failed to win any other match. They finished the group stage at the bottom, crashing out of the tournament.
Portugal did not qualify for the World Cup again until 2002, but in the meantime they had relative success in the European Championships. They reached the semi-finals and placed third in 1984, and then in 2000 replicated their achievement. In 2002, Portugal qualified for the World Cup and were placed in a group with Poland, South Korea and the United States. Despite fielding one of the best Portuguese teams in history, including the likes of Rui Costa, Luis Figo, and Nuno Gomes, the team failed to advance to the knockout stage. In 2004, Portugal hosted the European Championships, and came runners up after narrowly losing the final to Greece.
When they entered the 2006 World Cup, the team had become even stronger. Luis Figo led the Portuguese team, and there were players such as Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Petit, Nuno Gomes, and their key young forward Cristiano Ronaldo. They were drawn into a group with Angola, Iran and Mexico. Portugal won all three of their games, scoring 5 goals and only conceding one goal, to finish at the top of the group. In the round of 16, Portugal played against the Netherlands. Maniche, the Portuguese central midfielder, scored the only goal of the game to seal victory for Portugal. In the quarterfinals, Portugal faced England. There was a moment of controversy as Wayne Rooney fouled a Portuguese player and his Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo appealed to the referee for Rooney to be awarded a red card. The red card was given, but Portugal could not take advantage of the 10-man English team. The game went to penalties and Portugal won. Portugal then faced France, but here their fairy-tale campaign ended when they lost 1-0. In the playoff, Portugal lost 3-1 to Germany, to clinch a fourth place finish.
In the two following World Cups of 2010 and 2014, Portugal reached the round of 16 and crashed out in the group stage. In 2018, Portugal were put into a group with Spain, Morocco and Iran. They finished the group in second place and advanced to the round of 16, where they faced Uruguay. Uruguay beat Portugal 2-1, ending their 2018 World Cup campaign.
Portugal’s Qualification Route to the World Cup
In their qualifiers, Portugal were placed into Group A alongside Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland and Serbia. Portugal were the favourites to win the group, and they had an impressive overall performance, but draws against Serbia and the Republic of Ireland, and a loss in the final game against Serbia saw them finish in second place. This meant that they had to proceed to the UEFA qualifier playoffs. In the playoffs, Portugal were drawn into UEFA Path C, where they faced Turkey in their first game. Portugal won the game 3-1, and then proceeded to play against North Macedonia for a place in the 2022 World Cup. Portugal won the game comfortably, securing their place in the upcoming tournament.
Portugal’s World Ranking
At the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers in 2020, Portugal sat in 7th place in the World Rankings. Because they failed to qualify for the competition through the group stage and a less than convincing campaign in the 2021 European Championships, Portugal fell from 7th place in the World Rankings to the 9th place.
Which Players Can Portugal Field?
Many of the Portuguese national players play abroad, in leagues such as Ligue 1, La Liga, the Bundesliga, and so on, but the vast majority play in the English Premier League. Of the footballers who play in England, a large number of them play for Wolverhampton Wanderers after former manager Nuno Espirito Santo brought them in. This is good news for Portuguese fans as the players will have a lot of experience of playing together and can use the chemistry they have at club level to play for the national team.
In goal, the first choice goalkeeper is Rui Patricio, who currently plays for Roma but previously played for Wolves. Next to him, they can use current Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa, or the up and coming Diogo Costa who plays in the domestic Primeira Liga.
In defence Portugal have the veteran Pepe, who was the long-time Real Madrid centre back and who now plays for Porto. Alongside him, there are many different options such as Manchester City duo Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo, or Danilo Pereira and Nuno Mendes who play for PSG, Raphael Geurreiro who is a highly rated right back for Borussia Dortmund, Cedric Soares who for in Arsenal or Wolves's Nelson Semedo.
In midfield Portugal have a plethora of options, including the three Wolves players Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Mattheus Nunes, as well as Premier League stars such as Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva. They also can field Joao Mario or Renato Sanches.
In attack, they have one of the best forwards in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Though the legend is 37, he still shows the same determination and strength with which he has always been associated, and as this could be his last World Cup, the striker will no doubt do his best for his country. Alongside Ronaldo, there are options such as Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Rafael Leao, Andre Silva, and more.
How to Bet on Portugal at the World Cup
If you want to bet on Portugal at the World Cup, then you will find a massive selection of pregame markets for each World Cup match, but through player props and other markets you will be able to bet on individual player performances.
Golden Boot Bet
The golden boot is awarded to the player who scores the most goals in the World Cup. Most fans will pick captain Cristiano Ronaldo to be the one to score the most goals for Portugal. However, it depends on how far Portugal advance in the tournament and on how fit the Portuguese skipper will be by the time the competition starts.
Golden Ball Bet
You can bet on which player will win the golden ball, which is awarded to the best player in the World Cup. Whilst Ronaldo is definitely key to Portugal’s attack, there are other players such as Bruno Fernandes or Bernardo Silva, who are just as important as they can set up the attack or can even contribute with goals themselves. The two midfielders play in the Premier League and both are highly influential for their teams there.
In addition to the bets on a player’s overall performance at the World Cup, you will be able to find many more bets on their performances for each game. For example, you may be able to find bets on whether Cristiano Ronaldo will score, whether he will score two goals, whether he will open the scoring or not, and more.
You can also find masses of bets on the team as a whole, such as will Portugal win their group, will they advance to the semi-finals, will Portugal win the World Cup, and more.