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Euro 2016 profile: Portugal primed to go far in France

Can Ronaldo fire Portugal to a trophy?


We profile Portugal, whose Euro 2016 hopes seem to rest on inspiration provided by star player Cristiano Ronaldo.

We continue to profile all 24 teams at the Euro 2016 finals in France, so punters are in the know when it comes to the sides on show this summer.

Having been firmly sat in the shadows of current holders and fierce rivals Spain when it comes to the European Championship, the Portuguese protagonists will be eager to steer their nation to success while iconic attacker and captain Cristiano Ronaldo is still in his prime.

Nicknamed ‘the Navigators’, Portugal are widely expected to pip Pool F rivals Austria, Hungary and Iceland to group prominence, and are a best market 20/1 with Coral to go further and lift the top prize.

History at the Euros: Portugal have been a bridesmaid several times, with three semi-final finishes and one runners-up spot in 2004, when the likes of a young Ronaldo complemented a vintage team featuring Luis Figo, Deco and co. Sick of silver and bronze medals, now the Navigators will have gold registering on their radar.

Head coach: Fernando Santos swept in to save a Portuguese team struggling in Euro 2016 qualifying, taking up the post from Paulo Bento just months after departing his station with Greece, who he had led to the World Cup knockout stages for the first time ever.

The 61-year-old has pure pedigree when it comes to club management previous, having bossed all of the Primeira Liga’s big three in Benfica, Porto and Sporting, winning several major titles with the Dragons.

Key player: Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo of course. The Navigators skipper is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, their all-time leading scorer with 55 and second behind legendary wingman Figo for most appearances, with just four more caps needed to equal the current record of 127.

Now aged 31, there is a reasonable chance the prolific Portuguese could be facing his last chance to land a European Championship medal, and he is 9/1 second-favourite by BetFred to be leading marksman.

Rising Star: Portugal have a host of prodigies ready to step into the void, with a handful of hopefuls fit to feature in this category, from teenage Porto conductor Ruben Neves and Valencia schemer Andre Gomes, to boisterous Benfica man of the moment Renato Sanches.

Yet, it is Monaco playmaker Bernardo Silva, 21, who may be the most reliable tip to star in France and is the most accomplished of the young-guns so far. The left-footed flank threat is an excellent all-rounder with an ever-improving eye for goal.

Wildcard: Rafa Silva​, another attacking midfield menace, but slightly less celebrated than talents who ply their trade at top clubs.

Currently wowing Premeira Liga crowds for less fashionable Braga, the nippy winger could force his way into Euro contention after earning just four caps. The 22-year-old has come on leaps and bounds and could well be a fantastic option to call off the bench for a counter.

Confirmed Portugal Euro 2016 fixtures
All kick-offs are British Summer Time (BST)
Tuesday, June 14th: Group F, Portugal v Iceland (20:00); Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne, BBC
Saturday, June 18th: Group F, Portugal v Austria (20:00); Parc des Princes, Paris, BBC
Wednesday, June 22nd: Group F, Hungary v Portugal (17:00); Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, BBC

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