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It could barely be tougher for the Lusos...

When Portuguese fans saw their team emerge from the pot to join Brazil, Ivory Coast, and North Korea, a feeling of disappointment, but also excitement, must have washed over them.

For while this, Group G, almost certainly comprises the 'Group of Death', there is also the chance for Portugal to shock the world.

In Port Elizabeth, the Portuguese kick off against the Ivorians in a match that will, it's fair to say, make or break them.

Portugal's downfall in qualification was an inability to convert draws into victories, Scoreless draws with Sweden and Albania at home paying testament to that.

Against the Ivory Coast, with both teams realistically looking at a fight for second, such profligacy is not an option, and Liedson will need to convert chances with greater efficiency.

While the Portuguese did not concede many goals on the road to South Africa, it's fair to say that defensive worries are not unknown. Denmark, not a free-scoring side, did not allow Portugal a single clean sheet, and against Bosnia in the play-offs there were heart-in-mouth moments more than once.

That is why this initial game is key. Start with purpose and build from the back, and Portugal have a superb chance.

Then comes game two against North Korea. Things have changed since the days of Eusebio and 1966, but this country holds a curse over the Seleccao das Quinas. Not one, though, powerful enough to prevent what should be a routine win for the Europeans.



That sets them up for the final game with Brazil. The boys in yellow, their Portuguese-speaking cousins, are among the favourites for the entire tournament, but can be seen as slow starters. Nonetheless they are slated to defeat a Portugal side that lacks their striking ability, creativity, and also wing play.

With this in mind, Portugal would do well to finish second, with first a distant dream. A second place finish will see them drawn against the winners of Group H. Inevitably, it's likely to be Spain, yet another one of the favourites. Truly, it's not just the Group of Death, but Group G is the path of death. Less likely are meetings with Switzerland and Chile - no slouches themselves.

In other words, Portugal's same old deficiencies could see their World Cup dreams end before they truly get off the ground. But with Cristiano Ronaldo on board, anything can happen.

Steve Michaels, Goal.com

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