Portugal World Cup 2022 squad and preview: Fernando Santos announces his 26-man list

Portugal World Cup 2022 squad
(Image credit: PA)

The Portugal World Cup 2022 squad has been named, with little surprise of some of the talent at coach Fernando Santos' disposal. 

The global perception of Portugal’s national men’s team for well over a decade has been Cristiano Ronaldo plus 10 others. It seems inevitable that Qatar 2022 will be filed in the annals of Portuguese football only under ‘Ronaldo’s last World Cup’. 

That is unless manager Fernando Santos can finally do something which has as yet eluded him, and turn an incredible generation of individual talents into a functioning cohesive unit. The perfect World Cup send-off for CR7 depends on those around him. 

Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao and Joao Felix are all unplayable on their day, and have consistently impressed on club football’s biggest stages. 

But such sparkling performances have been conspicuous by their absence when the same players pull on a Portugal shirt. That they all seem to shrink in Ronaldo’s messianic presence – and Fernandes having to deal with it for club and country – hardly augurs well.

Meek last-16 exits at the past two tournaments and a stodgy qualifying campaign in which Portugal had to book their World Cup place through the play-offs – Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th-minute winner in Lisbon having put Serbia top of their group – has led to increasing criticism of their veteran manager. The rosy glow from winning Euro 2016 faded long ago, as Santos, an innately conservative coach, is seen as the wrong man to get the most from a squad of lavishly gifted players.

Furthermore, trepidation among Portugal’s traditionally pessimistic fans has only escalated after the draw paired their heroes with three teams that elicit painful World Cup memories. South Korea, Ghana and Uruguay were Portugal’s last opponents at the 2002, 2014 and 2018 World Cups respectively – all tournaments where the Selecao badly underachieved. 

Ironically, if Portugal are to prosper in the Middle East, it probably won’t be due to the displays of their greatest ever player, Cristiano Ronaldo, or the contribution of Santos, the manager who brought them their only major trophy. Bernardo Silva will surely be the indispensable man and if one of Jota, Leao or Felix catches fire – the latter two starting from the bench, Toto Schillaci-style – then 2022 might be a memorable year for Portugal. 

Portugal World Cup 2022 squad

Portugal World Cup 2022 squad

  • GK: Diogo Costa (Porto)
  • GK: Rui Patrício (Roma)
  • GK: Jose Sa (Wolves)
  • DF: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
  • DF: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)
  • DF: Nuno Mendes (PSG)
  • DF: Ruben Dias (Manchester City) 
  • DF: Antonio Silva (Benfica)
  • DF: Pepe (Porto) 
  • DF: Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
  • DF: Danilo Pereira (PSG) 
  • MF: Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
  • MF: Matheus Nunes (Wolves)
  • MF: William Carvalho (Real Betis)
  • MF: Ruben Neves (Wolves)
  • MF: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
  • MF: Joao Mario (Benfica) 
  • MF: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
  • MF: Vitinha (PSG)
  • MF: Otavio (Porto)
  • FW: Joao Felix (Atlético Madrid)
  • FW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
  • FW: Goncalo Ramos (Benfica)
  • FW: Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
  • FW: Ricardo Horta (Braga)
  • FW: Andre Silva (RB Leipzig)

Portugal top scorers

2 goals: Bruno Fernandes

1 goal: Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao

Portugal yellow cards

1 yellow card: Danilo Pereira, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Ruben Neves

Portugal's manager

Who is the Portugal manager for the World Cup?

If Fernando Santos’ face could accommodate any more wrinkles, a few dozen extra would have been added during a difficult qualification campaign that saw Portugal make a mess of a fairly straightforward group. Fans and the press have called for a change, but the 68-year-old retains the full support of the players and the FA. 

Portugal's star player

Who is Portugal's star player for the World Cup?

Bernardo Silva. He is almost unique in combining piercing on-field intelligence, supreme technical ability, astonishing vision and unstinting industry. No wonder the 28-year-old, blessed with a left foot as good as any in history, is regularly the object of high praise from Pep Guardiola and was courted by Barcelona this summer. 

How many players are Portugal allowed to take to the 2022 World Cup?

National managers were allowed to bring 26 players to last summer’s European Championship for the first time at a major tournament, as a special measure brought in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now it has been announced that 26-player squads will return for the Qatar World Cup, an expansion from the usual 23-man teams.

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