Portugal coach Fernando Santos opted to release a provisional 35-man roster before announcing his final 2018 FIFA World Cup squad on Thursday, May 17.
The preliminary team comprised 13 defenders, but none of them was Fabio Coentrao. The latter, whose bond with Cristiano Ronaldo was strong when both shared the dressing room at the Santiago Bernabeu, announced his temporary departure from the Seleccao “after a lot of consideration” and due to “a very tiring season”. He has requested to skip Portugal’s FIFA World Cup campaign.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s partner in crime, Quaresma, has been called but the biggest cut from the provisional 35-man squad has to be that of Luis Nani. Likewise, Euro 2016 final match-winner Eder was dropped despite making the initial roster.
Portugal’s final 23-man squad
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cedric, Mario Rui, Jose Fonte, Pepe, Ricardo Pereira, Raphael Guerreiro, Ruben Dias
Midfielders: Adrien Silva, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, William Carvalho.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Guedes, Gelson Martins, Ricardo Quaresma.
Commenting on his picks, coach Fernando Santos was quoted as saying:
“Is this squad stronger than the Euro 2016 squad? That’s impossible to say.
“At Euro 2016 Portugal won a trophy for the first time and we have to be grateful to the players for that. What I can say is that I’m as confident in this squad as I was for the Euro.”
Portugal’s FIFA World Cup 2018 preparations
The European champions have three friendly matches lined up so as to warm up for the mega challenge on June 15 against Spain in Sochi. The first of those is Portugal vs Tunisia in Braga on May 28.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence from this encounter was confirmed earlier this month, following Real Madrid’s qualification to the 2018 UEFA Champions League final. Since the date with Liverpool in Kiev is on May 26, Ronaldo will not have enough time to recover and join his national teammates back home.
Belgium vs Portugal, therefore, is the fixture to look forward to as Cristiano Ronaldo fans. It is scheduled to take place on June 2 in Brussels at 14:45 ET/18:45 GMT. Concluding this trio of tests will be a challenge against Algeria on June 7 as Fernando Santos will want to prepare his squad for the World Cup Group B tricks of Algeria’s continental rivals, Morocco.
The reigning European champions will then catch their flight to Russia with the mission of humbling 2010 World Cup winners Spain before tackling the Lions of the Atlas in Moscow and Carlos Queiroz’s Iran in Saransk.