Portugal must celebrate, not analyse

The Portuguese team knew a resounding victory against North Korea would put them in a good position to qualify for the Last 16 of the World Cup - and not only did they do that, but they did it in style.

The comprehensive 7-0 rout is guaranteed to make headlines until the next fixture against Brazil, but the match was not quite as easy as the scoreline suggests.

Before Raul Meireles scored in the 28th minute, Portugal were struggling to break through their opponents’ organized defence and it was only after the second goal in the second half that the Koreans revealed their amateurishness and the floodgates opened.

Getting it right

Just like any other Portuguese, Carlos Queiroz didn’t like his team’s performance against the Ivory Coast, and made four changes to his starting XI for the second match. Simão, Tiago, Hugo Almeida and Miguel replaced Danny, Deco, Liédson and Paulo Ferreira respectively and with the exception of the Valencia right-back, they were very active throughout the match and repaid the gaffer’s faith with goals and assists.

Whether the trashing of DPRK can be attributed to those changes or to the gap in quality between the two sides is another issue, but the national manager will be pleased to see his players rising to the challenge. With this dazzling victory and with Ronaldo admitting Tiago played better, the team morale has certainly been boosted and any story of unrest in the Portuguese camp has instantly been quelled – at least for now.

Finally the ketchup gave in

Last week, Ronaldo downplayed his lack of goals for the national team - comparing goal flow to  ketchup stuck in the bottle. Sometimes, you try and it doesn’t come out and then, out of the blue, it all come out. And sure enough that was precisely how it worked out for Portugal.

In 40 minutes, the national team managed to score six goals, a goal every six minutes and 40 seconds, which is an incredible ratio! And Ronaldo, who had hit the post against Ivory Coast and managed to hit the woodwork again against North Korea, finally put an end to his 16-month goal drought for the national team and with a very funny and ‘not-so-Ronaldo-ish’ goal

One step away from the Last 16

The Portuguese team is still not certain to be in the Last 16, but honestly only a disaster of epic proportions would send Ronaldo and his posse packing on Friday. Though both Ivory Coast and Portugal could well both finish the group with four points, goal difference heavily favours the Selecção. Since the Elephants are on -2 and Portugal are on +7, it would take something special to see Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men get through.

Regardless of that, a match against Brazil is always a good exercise to answer some nagging questions such as: can Fábio Coentrão replicate his good showings against the likes of Robinho and Luis Fabiano? Can Hugo Almeida or Liédson score against a top side? And, in Tiago, do Portugal finally have a replacement for Deco?

We shall know it that soon, so stay tuned amigos and força Portugal!

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