As the World Cup kick-off and the deadline for submitting team lists approaches, the participating countries rush to submit their squad list. Several countries have already released their list, which includes some fascinating takes on the composition of the teams.
So far, there have been few surprises, but questions have arisen over the choice and absence of certain players. With injuries playing their part, a few great players will be absent. A few of them include Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante and Diogo Jota.
Diogo Jota is a notable absence in the Portugal squad as the Iberian country releases its list for the World Cup. The talking point of the list is Cristiano Ronaldo. He will captain Portugal to his fifth and perhaps final Mundial. The 37-year-old is in the twilight of his career, and it should be his last shot at the World Cup.
Ronaldo leads Portugal to his fifth World Cup
It would have been a massive surprise if the Portugal World Cup list did not have Ronaldo. Despite his recent woes at Manchester United, the all-time international goalscorer for men with 117 goals would be in Qatar for the World Cup.
It has been a less-than-stellar start to life this season for Ronaldo. The former Real Madrid forward has had issues that have seen him struggle this term. He has managed three goals in 16 games across all competitions, with just four Premier League starts. It is not the season Ronaldo wanted, but the World Cup should be a welcome distraction for the Portugal superstar.
The former Real Madrid forward sought an exit from Manchester United in the summer, with Champions League football as his target, but there were no takers for his services. He also had a run-in with United coach Erik Ten Hag, who punished him for refusing to come on as a substitute in the win over Tottenham in October.
Santos keeps faith in Ronaldo
Despite not scoring in his last three appearances for Portugal, coach Fernando Santos has kept faith in Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal manager has listed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the squad for the Qatar World Cup. Ronaldo captained Portugal to their first-ever senior international football trophy in 2016 when they won the European Championship. He also led them as they won the 2019 UEFA Nations League title.
Santos claims that all the players he called up for the World Cup are coming with a hunger to win and make Portugal World Champions for the first time in their history. Despite not being at his peak, Santos has included Ronaldo and claims he is hungry to play and win.
Santos is confident of Portugal becoming World Champions. He said this in a recent statement. He has also called up uncapped Benfica defender Antonio Silva. Another player that made the squad list is out-of-favour Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix. The forward has lost his starting place at Atletico and scored three goals in 17 appearances this season.
Portugal takes on Nigeria in a warm-up for Qatar on November 17.
Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Rui Patricio (AS Roma).
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris St Germain), Pepe (FC Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (SL Benfica), Nuno Mendes (Paris St Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund).
Midfielders: Joao Palhinha (Fulham FC), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (SL Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Vitinha (Paris St Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Otavio (FC Porto).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Ricardo Horta (SC Braga), Goncalo Ramos (FC Benfica), Andre Silva (RB Leipzig).