Portugal to Win Euro 2016 Odds
Fernando Santos led Greece national football team at the 2012 European Championship and also on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but now he's back in his home country and the 61-year-old Portuguese was appointed as national team coach of "A Selecção" on 24 September 2014. The Portuguese Football Federation decided to appoint Santos as a replacement of Paulo Bento, who led Portugal at the 2014 World Cup and despite their poor performance (Portugal was eliminated after the group phase, finishing behind Germany and USA), Bento received more credit. However, after the 0:1 home defeat by Albania
on the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Portuguese Football Federation announced Bento's dismissal and few days later Fernando Santos was appointed.
His first match was marked by a defeat but that was in a friendly against the Euro 2016 hosts France, as it ended with the 1:2 defeat at "Stade de France" in paris. Notwithstanding of that loss, Portugal's first important fixture was their visit in Denmark which ended with a narrow win, marked by a late winner scored from their star Cristiano Ronaldo. That game was followed by six more wins in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, which simply means that "The Navigators" have won seven consecutive matches and except the surprising loss by Albania at the start, Portugal won all their games. Impressive record by Fernando Santos' men and thus they qualified on sixth consecutive European Championship which means that Portugal hasn't missed one since number of finalists was increased to 16 from Euro 1996.
Portugal and their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign
Portugal booked their tickets for France as UEFA Euro 2016
qualifying Group I winners where they were alongside Armenia and Serbia
, except the above mentioned teams of Albania and Denmark, who finished respectively 2nd and 3rd in the group. Nevertheless, France was engaged with friendly matches against each side from the only qualifying group with five teams in, as Portugal lost in both occasions, but these matches were friendlies, so virtually that wasn't so important, especially when Portugal secured its position in Pot 1 of the Euro 2016 finals draw
. Anyway, "A Selecção" were quite frugal in most of their games as they won four of their seven victories with 1:0, while every their success was by one goal margin. Well, since they won all games under Fernando Santos' management, it seems that this does the work and once again Real Madrid's attacker Cristiano Ronaldo was with crucial role for Portugal's qualification - scoring 5 of the overall 11 goals which Portugal had, as his best game was the 3:2 win in Armenia where CR7 scored a hat-trick. However, that was the last Euro 2016 qualifier where he scored and the last three wins of "Seleções de Portugal" were accomplished by goals from João Moutinho, Nani and Miguel Veloso.
As a result of their first position and respectively qualification to the 2016 European Championship, Portugal closed 2015 with friendly matches against another Euro 2016 contender in Russia's face which "A Selecção" lost by 0:1, while few days later they won against Luxembourg - 2:0.
The new and cherished 2016 began with two friendlies in March and Portugal's general Euro 2016 warm up was against two B-teams - another team from Pot 1 - Belgium, as well the Bulgarian national team. First of all was the game against Bulgaria
on the crowded "Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa" in Leirie, where despite their domination, Portugal surprisingly lost (0:1) as a result of the fantastic individual efforts of Bulgarian goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov, who saved a penalty of Cristiano Ronaldo to top it all. However, only few days later Portugal gave a brilliant response to the critics as they won over "The Red Devils" from Belgium as that win came with 2:1 - after goals by Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo at the same venue.
Euro 2016 squads: Portugal - team review
Final part of Portuguese preparation will begin right before the Euro 2016 finals when "Seleções de Portugal" will play few friendlies against strong opponents like Norway and England, while their last one (respectively third) is only two days before the opening Euro 2016 ceremony and it's scheduled against Estonia. Only few days later Portugal will begin their Euro 2016 quest with a clash against Iceland and maybe that's why Fernando Santos decided to leave that friendly for the final and it was settled to take place on "Estádio da Luz" in Lisbon. Thereafter Portugal will travel for France as Fernando Santos already announced his squad, which means that he'll use these friendlies to set up his optimal squad.
We all know that two of the pillars in Portugal's team are engaged with the 2015-2016 UEFA Champions League
final where Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to winning "la undecima" (11th) trophy for their Real Madrid from the most prestigious tournament in European club football. Right after that Pepe and Ronaldo will join the Portuguese squad in attempt to earn their first ever international trophy as "The Navigators" will return where everything has began - France was once again host nation of UEFA Euro 1984 which was the first ever European Championship on which Portugal attended. And it remains one of their usual strong efforts as they reached the semi-finals, where they lost by the future champions and host nation France, after Michel Platini scored the winning goal (for 3:2) in the 119th minute. So yes, this was Portugal's debut but we must note that "A Selecção" always reaches at least the quarter-finals (in all six appearances so far), in which they have four semi-finals. However, Portugal passed the semi-finals only once and that happened at home turf when Portugal was slipped twice by Greece - in the opening match and in the final game, which remains Portugal's best ever European Championship record, although the bitter taste from the home defeat by the tournament's underdog remains.
Portugal's best possible Euro 2016 lineup: Rui Patrício - Eliseu, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Cédric Soares - William Carvalho, João Moutinho, João Mário - Cristiano Ronaldo (c), Nani, Eder. (4-3-3)
returns on the main stage and four years after their semi-final defeat from Spain in Donetsk (after penalties), Fernando Santos' men will be keen for something different as that's the last ever chance for some players like Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Eliseu, Jose Fonte, Ricardo Quaresma and maybe even for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be on 35 and Euro 2020 looks like a long-term ambition for him. All these players can be described as veterans in the Portuguese selection, as except them we have few other experienced players like goalkeepers Rui Patrício and Eduardo and the outfield players Vieirinha, João Moutinho, Nani, who are all on 29+. Of course, except them there is a new wave of players and players like Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Cédric Soares (Southampton), Raphaël Guerreiro (Lorient), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Sporting CP), João Mário (Sporting CP), Adrien Silva (Sporting CP), André Gomes (Valencia), Renato Sanches (will join Bayern München next season, currently Benfica player) and Rafa Silva (Braga) are included in Fernando Santos' 23 men squad and they can be marked as the "new generation" of top quality Portuguese footballers.
Some of them were vital part of Portugal's 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship
selection where they won the silver medals in the Czech Republic, after losing by Sweden on penalties - 3:4. However, players like Raphaël Guerreiro and William Carvalho were in the Team of the Tournament, as Carvalho was also selected for the best footballer during the competition and that's not accidental. He is followed by numerous major clubs on the European scene and we won't be surprised if he makes a move like his younger partner in midfield Renato Sanches, who was sold to Bayern Munich for €35 million and he's one of the first two signings which Carlo Ancelotti makes, together with Mats Hummels. You can imagine for what a prospect we speak, especially for his age - Sanches is only 18-year-old and he has wonderful chance to play on the main stage with all other talented youngsters and the experienced pearls in Portugal national football team.
Unfortunately, for all Portuguese players and football fans, there are some names who will miss Euro 2016 due to injuries as Fábio Coentrão, Danny and Tiago are out of contention, while other players like Luís Neto, André André, Miguel Veloso, Silvestre Varela and Bernardo Silva were left out of the group.
Portugal's Euro 2016 fixtures and schedule
Portugal will kick-off their Euro 2016 schedule with a clash against one of the debutants Iceland when "Stade Geoffroy-Guichard" in Saint-Étienne will host that game on 14 June. This is the last match from the first group stage round and this will answer to few questions - will Portugal meet all the expectations to earn the three points or Iceland
will cause one of the potential upsets on their first ever match on major football event?
Four nights later Portugal is set to play its second Group F encounter when "Parc des Princes" in capital Paris will host the encounter against one of the hidden favorites from Austria
. Expectations are that this can be Portugal's most tricky game in the group phase, but we are confident that all of them are trickier than expected, there is no place for underestimation at such events.
Last challenge of Portugal's Group F schedule is at "Parc Olympique Lyonnais" in Lyon, where the brand new home of French vice-champions Olympique Lyon will host the match between Portugal and Hungary
on 22 June 2016.