Fernando Santos has released his 23-man squad list to prosecute the World Cup in Russia, opting for a blend of youth and experience with the likes of Almeida Nani and Andre Gomes missing out.
The Portuguese coach made some surprise inclusions to the team with Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva set to play alongside superstar Ronaldo upfront.
Forwards Nani and the hero of the Euro 2016 final Eder were shock absentees from Portugal’s World Cup squad. Rumours suggest that the failure of Nani to perform consistently for club side Lazio this term contributed to his absence, whereas Eder could only muster four goals the whole campaign in Lokomotiv Moscow despite their title-winning run.
Also missing from the 23-man squad were Barcelona duo Andre Gomes, Nelson Semedo, and Renato Sanches who, like Eder and Nani, played at the 2016 European championships won by the Portuguese. Injured Porto midfielder Danilo Pereira was also missing from the line-up.
Santos opts for Youth:
Santos called up 21-year-old Benfica defender Ruben Dias for the first time, but Monaco youngster Rony Lopes missed out despite a breakthrough season in Ligue 1 with 13 goals from midfield.
At 33, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo and 34-year-old Ricardo Quaresma are the only players over 30 in the Portuguese attack.
With the inclusion of Andre Silva, Gelson Martins, and Goncalo Guedes, Santos may have discovered the missing formula they need to galvanize the team to success irrespective of the criticism from some fans in the country.
Portugal are placed in Group B at the World Cup, alongside Iberian neighbour and former World champions Spain, Morocco, and Iran. Their opening group game is a mouthwatering clash on June 15 against Spain.
Before the finals, they will play friendlies against Tunisia, Belgium, and Algeria.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio.
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, José Fonte, Mario Rui, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira.
Midfielders: Adrien Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva.
Attackers: Andre Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo , Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma.