Euro 2024. The party continues in Germany

Euro 2024. The party continues in Germany

Portugal closed the group stage with an impressive victory over modest Iceland (2-0), which is a shadow of the talented team that surprised the Euro 2016 and imposed a draw on the Portuguese. The José de Alvalade stadium was filled to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. celebrate qualifying for the European Championship in Germany with nothing but victories – it was their ninth consecutive qualification. In the history of the competition, only eight teams have managed to qualify cleanly, and Roberto Martínez had already done so while coach of Belgium.

The Quinas team had the best qualification ever. For the 2006 World Cup, the team coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari scored 30 points in 12 games – Roberto Martínez’s team managed the same number of points in 10 games. In addition to Portugal, only France managed to guarantee qualification with victories among 53 teams. The “firepower” of the national team was brutal. With 36 goals scored – the most successful in the qualifying phase – he broke the record set by Scolari’s team (35 goals). France achieved the most uneven result in the history of the European Championship, crushing Gibraltar 14-0 and becoming the second best attack in the competition with 27 goals, and one game less.

Qualification was achieved by facing teams from the second tier of European football, only Slovakia posed some obstacles, which Portugal took time to overcome. We are, therefore, left without knowing what this team is worth against stronger opponents, but that does not take away the merit of the selection, especially because there were times when Portugal were clear favorites, but played poorly and lost or drew with teams of lesser caliber. In the Martínez era, the result was always saved.

“The players enjoy playing for the national team and show incredible commitment”, highlighted the coach. Regarding the European Championship, he does not give favoritism to anyone: “There are teams that have the quality to be able to win the tournament. We are in that group, the values ​​in the locker room and the individual quality are of the highest level”, he declared.

The draw for the final phase will take place on December 2nd. Portugal is seeded and is in pot 1 with Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and, quite possibly, England. Competitiveness and the degree of difficulty will increase, Portugal will have to share favoritism with other teams and play more successful games, almost of excellence, if they want to fight for the European title.

Bruno Fernandes showed great lucidity in a moment of celebration: “We have to understand that not everything was a bed of roses. There are things to improve if we want to reach the European final,” he said. The Manchester United midfielder was the only one who played ten games; in these, he scored six goals, made eight assists and had 83.7% passing efficiency. There were other key players in this campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo was the top scorer, with 10 goals in nine games, Rúben Dias played nine games and had a passing efficiency of 94.6%, João Cancelo and Bernardo Silva also played nine games and each scored three goals. Manchester City’s attacking midfielder, as he doesn’t know how to play poorly, had 90.8% passing efficiency. Goalkeeper Diogo Costa participated in seven games and was decisive in helping Portugal concede just two goals in ten games. Roberto Martínez drew up an initial list of 200 players, which he reduced until reaching the 82 that he monitors permanently, analyzing the tactical system in which they play, their position, the calendar, minutes per game and performance data. During qualification he used 30 players and debuted four names: Gonçalo Inácio, João Neves, Toti Gomes and João Mário. As the coach said, “playing for the national team is expensive”, so the main squad for Euro 2024 is practically made.

The game and Portugal’s qualification had an impact on the international press. In Spain, sports Brand wrote: “Mind-blowing. Portugal won the tenth game and achieved an immaculate qualification, breaking mind-boggling records. Against Iceland, they gave a football lesson.” The main Italian sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sporttalks about “Portugal’s show”, and, in Brazil, the Globe Sports, goes further and says: “Portugal is the favorite for the title in the 2024 European Championship. This is the conclusion to be reached after qualifying, which was perfect. In the last game, all that was missing was Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal.”


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