The early noughties was tipped to be Portugal's golden era: Nuno Gomes, Rui Costa and Luis Figo were due to hit their peak and things were looking rosy. Unfortunately it didn't really go to plan. The Iberians didn't exactly flop, but the success expected by the demanding supporters never really materialized
Losing in the final of Euro 2004 was seen a failure for the Portuguese team - how they would love to fail like that now. As opposed to reaching the final of a major tournament, Portugal currently seem to be content for just qualifying for one.
They have stumbled to the top of a weak qualifying group for the upcoming Euros and they relied on an inspired Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Sweden in the World Cup play-off. What would they do without the Real Madrid star?
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Reliance on Ronaldo
Many teams are accused of being a one-man-team - in Portugal's case it might be fairly accurate. The sheer presence of Ronaldo in the team elevates them to tournament underdogs, without him they probably wouldn't even qualify. He is often criticised for under-performing with Portugal, but when his supply line is Veloso, Varela and Eder he's always going to struggle. That remains the problem for Portugal.
As good as Ronaldo is, he and Pepe are the only world-class players in the team. Compare their squad to that of Germany or France and you can see how they got knocked at the group stage of the World Cup. If only Ronaldo was born a few years earlier - that deeply elusive trophy may have been in their hands.
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Chances of winning EURO 2016
If Greece can win the European Championships then I guess there's no reason why Portugal can't. They will need a huge swing of luck though. They lack enough quality midfielders to dominate a game and give Ronaldo enough of the ball to flourish. Joao Moutinho is a top quality player but he can't do it by himself; the men in claret are crying out for Rui Costa's protege.
Without technical players in midfield, it's hard to see Portugal getting out of the group stages, let alone winning the tournament. To stand any chance of glory - they need Ronaldo to become even more superhuman than he already is.
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