Euro 2024 is Cristiano Ronaldo’s last dance but Portugal are so much more than a one-man team

Portugal are no longer reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo, with Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva set to have a huge impact at Euro 2024 (Photo: Metro)

Heading to Euro 2024 in sensational form, Portugal will go all out for glory in what is very likely Cristiano Ronaldo’s final European championships.

Following a chaotic World Cup in 2022 – both on and off the pitch – Portugal found themselves in a tough predicament, with their star player past his prime and a new manager whose previous side had just bombed out of Qatar at the group stage.

Yet, they were the best team in qualifying, winning all 10 games, scoring 36 goals and keeping nine clean sheets, and if all goes to plan, they have a rather favourable route to the final in Berlin.

With a great squad filled with experienced veterans, players hitting their peak and young starlets ready to prove themselves, Ronaldo’s last dance could end with a second Euros triumph:

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Many were stunned when Roberto Martinez was announced as the replacement for Fernando Santos, the man who led Portugal to Euro 2016 glory, especially as it came just a month after he resigned from the Belgium job.

The 50-year-old had a mixed time in charge of Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, finishing third at World Cup 2018, quarter-finals at Euro 2020, and then knocked out at the group stage at World Cup 2022, with his side scoring just once in three matches.

For some though, Martinez will always be best remembered for winning the FA Cup with underdogs Wigan in 2013.

Roberto Martinez has won 12 and lost just one of his 13 games in charge of Portugal (Photo: Getty)

Style of play & starting XI

Unlike his defence-minded predecessor, Martinez’s style is all out attack, typically lining up in a 4-3-3 formation though he has experimented with a back-three at times, and there are still a handful of positions not nailed down.

Diogo Costa has established himself as the No.1 goalkeeper, while in defence Manchester City stars past and present Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias will be joined by Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot.

There are plenty of options to anchor the midfield but Fulham’s Joao Palhinha should get the nod, freeing up Man Utd captain Bruno Fernandes to do his thing.

Man City ace Bernardo Silva can also drop into the midfield but is preferred on the right-flank, with Ronaldo leading the line and one of Rafael Leao or former Chelsea loanee Joao Felix on the left.

Portugal have strength in depth in every position (Photo:

MVP: Cristiano Ronaldo

For some the Greatest Of All Time, Ronaldo may not be at his peak but the 39-year-old remains one of the best forwards in the world, has the most caps and goals in men’s international football, and is the Euros’ all-time top goalscorer.

Though Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League is a far cry from Real Madrid, 44 goals and 13 assists in 45 appearances is nothing to sniff at, and he also found the back of the net 10 times in qualifying. Only Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku could beat that.

And unlike the last major tournament, there will be no controversial Piers Morgan interviews to distract him. We think…

Cristiano Ronaldo has been scoring for fun in Saudi Arabia. Can he do it in Germany? (Photo: Getty)

One to watch: Antonio Silva

While Manchester United fans will be very keen to see top target Joao Neves in action, the teenager is unlikely to feature too much given the competition in defensive midfield.

But another Benfica player on their radar is Antonio Silva, with the 20-year-old in good shape to partner Dias at centre-back.

If he can help maintain Portugal’s imperious defence from the qualifiers into the tournament, they’ll be no shortage of interest, even with a reported release clause of €100million (£85m).

Antonio Silva is among the Benfica and Portugal stars linked with Man Utd (Photo: Getty)

Route to the final

Drawn in Group F, Portugal open their tournament against the Czech Republic on 18 June before taking on Turkey and Georgia.

If all goes as predicted, they’ll top the group and end up on the side of the draw that avoids hard hitters like France, England and Italy, with many tipping them to reach at least the semis where they’ll likely encounter hosts Germany.

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