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Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Portugal - Reliant on the wings.....and a prayer!

Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Portugal - Reliant on the wings.....and a prayer!

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Goal.com's Ayush Srivastava has a look at how Portugal's line-up and gives a detailed analysis on what kind of organisation to expect from Paulo Bento's side....

The Portugal that comes to the Euro 2012 under Paulo Bento is a sea change away from the one that went to the 2010 World Cup under Carlos Queiroz.

While the personnel might well be quite similar, Bento has gotten the side playing neat, attacking style which is in no way comparable to the ultra defensive tactics employed by his predecessor, which often left a frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo alone upfront.

Bento has switched to an attacking 4-3-3, results haven’t always been ideal, with the Seleccao only making the Championships via the play-off, while their recent results have involved a loss to Turkey, which was preceded by two consecutive 0-0 draws against Poland and Macedonia.


FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

HOW PORTUGAL DEFENDS


While Portugal has had a strong defense in recent years, this time round it might well be a worry for Bento, as he is shorn of the services of Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Carvalho being omitted from the squad due to problems with the coach.

While Rui Patricio has progressed brilliantly over the last year and is now assured of being the no.1 custodian for Portugal, at right back a largely inexperienced Joao Pereira seems to have become the first choice, but his rash decision making makes him a serious liability.

Pepe and Bruno Alves will line-up in central defense, with both having formerly played together at club level, the level of understanding between the two shouldn’t be a problem.

Fabio Coentrao is an assured starter at left-back, though more than his defensive skills, it is his attacking talent that makes him indispensible.

The defense shall be screened by Miguel Veloso with Raul Meireles being given the freedom to move forward.

Joao Moutinho is likely to be the other Central Midfielder, and the trio are expected to press the opposition in midfield, while the front tio of Ronaldo, Nani and Helder Postiga apply pressure further up the pitch.


HOW PORTUGAL ATTACKS

While under Queiroz, Ronaldo was often left on his own, his successor has employed a far more attacking formation, though the gameplan is still highly dependent on Ronaldo and Nani’s world class wing-play.

Especially with neither of Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida really good enough to be classified as world class, the lack of a good centre-forward makes it even more important for Ronaldo and Nani to fire, and not only provide the ammunition, but also the goals.

Moutinho and Meireles are to provide the creative edge to this team with their expansive passing and being the connection between their defense and attack. They are also expected to make forays towards the edge of the box, hoping to profit from a cut-back from either of the wingers with their powerful shots.

Coentrao provides a dynamic presence down the left, dovetailing with Ronaldo to create havoc down the wing, while Pereira down the other end being equally adventurous, with his technical skills coming to the fore in attack.


SWOT ANALYSIS

Strength
: Its undoubtedly their two star wingers, Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, who provide the spark upfront for this side. How Bento manages to utilise the services of the duo will decide how far they go.

Weakness: Unlike in editions of the past, their defense is not as strong as it is usually. While Pepe and Bruno Alves are two accomplished defenders, the duo alongwith Pereira are known to have rash moments, which could prove to be costly at this stage. They do not have a proper central attacking midfielder, someone like a Rui Costa or a Deco.

Opportunity: The chance to prove their doubters, who feel they are all style and no substance, wrong during this Euro 2012 Championship is the Seleccao’s biggest opportunity, as Ronaldo and co. look to erase eight years of pain.

Threat: Their lack of form heading into the Championships is a big threat to Portugal’s hopes. Having lost to Turkey and drawn with much weaker teams like Poland and Macedonia, Bento needs to get his team organised into a cohesive unit before the tournament begins, else it might well be curtains in the group stages itself.


COACH IN QUOTES

"We will also need courage, but if we only think about defending we will surely not get a good result.

"We must attack, but in an organised way. Above all we have to be strong, aggressive and cohesive, especially when we lose the ball."

- Paulo Bento

THE VERDICT

Portugal definitely have several stars in their ranks, but they have failed to play like a unit in recent times, and in a group consisting of Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, unless they get their act together, they might well be heading back home in the first available flight.


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