UEFA Euro 2024: Why you should be excited about Portugal

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UEFA Euro 2024: Why you should be excited about Portugal

Pulse Sports • 20:00 - 10.06.2024

Why you should be excited about Portugal at the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024.

Portugal will be going to the UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany hoping to repeat their heroics from 2016, when they managed to win the championships despite being far from favourites.

This time, they boast a much more talented squad with a lot of pedigree, and with it likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last ever tournament, it could be a chance to bow out in stye by clinching a second international tournament in order to match his arch-nemesis Lionel Messi.

Pulse Sports profiles Portugal and why you should be excited about them ahead of the tournament.

The manager

After a mixed tenure with Belgium's 'golden generation,' Roberto Martinez has taken the reins of Portugal's national team, aiming to achieve what eluded him with the Red Devils.

Martinez's time with Belgium saw the team reach the pinnacle of FIFA's world rankings and maintain that spot for over half his six-year tenure.

Despite this, they fell short in major tournaments, losing to eventual World Cup winners France in the 2018 semi-finals and to European champions Italy in the 2021 quarter-finals.

His stint ended disappointingly with a group-stage exit at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, highlighted by a goalless draw with Croatia and Romelu Lukaku's post-match frustration.

Martinez has started his tenure with Portugal similarly to his time with Belgium, securing victories and implementing an attractive, high-energy attacking style. 

Portugal breezed through qualifying with 10 consecutive wins under Martinez. Despite a minor setback with a 2-0 friendly loss to Slovenia, Martinez continues to experiment with various tactics and formations to find the perfect balance for Portugal's dynamic attacking lineup while maintaining defensive solidity.

Martinez's predecessor, Fernando Santos, is a national hero for leading Portugal to Euro 2016 glory, but his defensive approach didn't fully utilise the attacking talents of players like Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Goncalo Ramos, and Rafael Leao. 

Martinez's task is to blend flair with effectiveness, a balance that could propel Portugal to new heights.

With Belgium, Martinez's approach grew stale as their star players aged, leading to a more counter-attacking style. In contrast, Portugal's squad feels fresh and exciting, suggesting they might hit their stride in Germany.

Joao Neves

Joao Neves, poised to be the breakout star of the tournament, made his senior club debut only 18 months ago. By the end of 2023, the 19-year-old had already secured a spot in Portugal's squad and become a key figure in Benfica’s midfield. 

Neves is a versatile player, excelling in various aspects of the game. He combines the qualities of a ball-winner, tackler, tempo dictator, dribbler, and passer, with a knack for scoring goals. Though he plays as a No6 for Benfica, his abilities allow him to operate higher up the pitch.

Martinez praised Neves for quickly earning the respect of his teammates, a testament to his talent and character. Although Martinez initially limited Neves’s playtime, he recently featured for the full game in Portugal's 4-2 friendly win over Finland, showcasing his vast potential. Neves is on track to become a top-tier player; it’s just a matter of time. 

A wealth of top attacking options

Portugal boasts a ludicrously strong squad, so much so that players like Pedro Goncalves and Ricardo Horta, who had outstanding seasons, didn't make the initial cut. 

Manchester City's Matheus Nunes was also left out initially but was called up due to an injury replacement. The squad features numerous players familiar to Champions League and Premier League fans.

The team's depth is remarkable, with high-quality players available for every position. For example, in the absence of Bayern Munich's Raphael Guerreiro, options like PSG's Nuno Mendes, Joao Cancelo, or Diogo Dalot can step in seamlessly. 

The squad includes new talents like Goncalo Inacio, Neves, Francisco Conceicao, and the fit-again Pedro Neto, enhancing their strength since the Qatar World Cup.

Players like Joao Palhinha and Rafael Leao have gained more prominence under Martinez, while Vitinha earned a spot in Ligue 1's team of the season.

Cristiano Ronaldo, restored to the starting lineup, remains the team's leader and focal point, scoring 10 goals in qualifying and poised to play in his sixth Euros.

The primary challenge for Martinez is integrating Portugal's array of attacking talents, such as Ronaldo, Fernandes, Bernardo, Leao, Jota, Joao Felix, and Ramos, into a cohesive and effective unit. 

This balancing act proved difficult for Santos, evident in Portugal's 2-0 loss to Morocco in the Qatar World Cup quarter-finals.

Defensively, questions linger about who will partner with Ruben Dias. Youngsters Antonio Silva and Goncalo Inacio have been rotated, but 41-year-old Pepe remains an option. Goalkeeper Diogo Costa, despite a World Cup blunder, generally provides a reliable presence.

Additionally, Martinez has yet to face a truly challenging competitive match with Portugal. While winning all 10 qualifiers is commendable, the quality of opposition in their group was relatively low, making it difficult to gauge the team's true strength.

What you did not know

If Pepe plays in Germany, he will become the oldest player in European Championship history, surpassing Hungary’s Gabor Kiraly, who was 40 years and 86 days old when he played in 2016.


Portugal face a relatively easy group stage with the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Georgia, but the team has its sights set far beyond. Given their talent and depth, they are strong contenders to win the tournament, and expectations are sky-high.

Portugal’s Euro 2024 squad

Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves), Rui Patricio (Roma)

Defenders: Antonio Silva (Benfica), Danilo Pereira (Paris St-Germain), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Goncalo Inacio (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Cancelo (Barcelona), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Nuno Mendes (Paris St-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Neves (Benfica), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Matheus Nunes (Manchester City), Ruben Neves (Al-Hilal), Vitinha (Paris St-Germain).

Forwards: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Francisco Conceicao (Porto), Goncalo Ramos (PSG), Joao Felix (Barcelona), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Rafael Leao (AC Milan).