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Portugal are a striker away from having a great team ahead of Euro 2016

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Contrary to recent qualifying campaigns, Portugal progressed to Euro 2016 with relative comfort. They lost just one game in a tough group which included Denmark and Serbia, so rather understandably, the Portuguese public are looking to next summer with quiet confidence. 

Despite being top seeds, Portugal aren't quite in the top bracket of teams vying for the trophy. It's unlikely that a team would fear coming up against Portugal like they would with Germany, France or Spain. But that's not to say Portugal should be written off completely - Fernando Santos has accumulated a decent looking squad who are capable of beating anyone on their day.

Players coming into form

The World Cup in Brazil showcased the lack of depth in the Portugal squad: a heavy defeat to Germany and failure to beat USA proved they weren't quite ready to compete again at the upper echelons of world football. Fast forward 18 months and things are looking up for the men in claret.

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William Carvalho has emerged into the midfield powerhouse everyone hoped he would be - a position which has been a weak spot for Portugal for a few years. Joao Moutinho continues to impress alongside him; for the first time in a decade or so, Portugal look strong in the middle of the park.

They have always been well stocked in the wide areas and that continues with Nani's recent resurgence, Danny's rise to prominence and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. Similar to the wide areas, they are also looking strong in defence: the strange mix of Real Madrid and Southampton proving a hit in qualifying. 

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Pepe and Jose Fonte compliment each other well; the former quickly becoming one of the country's all time greats. Cedric and Fabio Coentrao occupy the full back areas next to their respective club mates - all of a sudden everything seems to clicking into place for Portugal. So why aren't they favourites?

Lack of a world-class striker

Not since Nuno Gomes back in the early noughties, have Portugal possessed a truly world-class striker. While France get to choose from Benzema, Griezmann and Martial, Portugal have Nelson Oliveira, Lucas Joao and Eder. To put it into perspective, Oliveria and Joao ply their trade in the English Championship and Eder warms the bench for Swansea. 

It's likely that in order to make amends for his shortage of striking options, Fernando Santos will deploy Cristiano Ronaldo as a lone striker. That's not where he'd like to be playing. Ronaldo has never really succeeded whilst playing as a striker: his astonishing career has come blistering speed on the break and arriving from deep as opposed to playing with his back to goal.

The majority believe that for Portugal to have any chance of success in France next summer, Ronaldo needs to be playing in his natural position - on the wing. Who will fill the void upfront is anyone's guess - if Santos can stumble upon another gem in time for next June - Portugal's puzzle may just become complete. 

Where do you think Portugal rank amongst the favourites for Euro 2016?

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Topics:
Cristiano Ronaldo
Football

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