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A Seleção das Quinas: Can Portugal Make It A World Cup Debut To Remember?

World Cup debutants Portugal enter the 2023 Women's World Cup in mixed form, having most recently won 2-0 against Ukraine after drawing 0-0 against euro winners England and drawing 1-1 to Wales, with a loss against Japan 2-1 at the start of the year; however, they will hope that their win against Ukraine and close performance against England will have given them the much-needed momentum and confidence they need heading into the tournament.

Portugal will want to forget all about last year's Euros as they crashed out, finishing 4th in their group, only picking up 1 point. From a 2-2 draw against Switzerland; additionally, their road to the world cup wasn't easy either, as they would end up qualifying through the playoffs against Iceland and Cameroon, leaving it right till the last seconds of the game with a penalty in the 94th minute from Carole Costa, helping send Portugal to their first ever world cup.


A Strong Attacking Threat


Diana Silva (Sporting CP)

Diana Silva is one of the critical players in Portugal's attack; the forward played a vital role for Sporting CP and scored 14 goals for her club, as they finished second by nine points behind rivals Benfica. She also was a key figure during their World Cup qualifying campaign scoring four goals in 12 games, including one in the 4-1 win against Iceland in the first round of world cup playoffs.


Silva isn't just a threat down the middle; the 28-year-old can cause problems from the wing, which will be critical as Portugal will have to breach some formidable defences, such as the Netherlands and the USA, if they are to progress from the group stage, with Silva looking to be a contender for the golden boot.


Kika Nazareth (SL Benfica)

Kika Nazareth was another key player in Portugal's 4-1 win over Iceland that sent them to the Intercontinental playoffs, rounding off the goals with her 5th international goal; most of them being scored in Portugal's world cup qualification campaign.


Nazareth is another vital part of Portugal's attack, the young 20-year-old has shone for her club Benfica already going on to play 20 games for the club, and whilst she can play deep, she is a goal threat for any side that Portugal is going to take on, as she scored 15 goals for Benfica in their title-winning campaign and will likely be challenging fellow forwards Diana Silva and Telma Encarnacao to be Portugal's representative taking home the golden boot.


Telma Encarnacao (Maritamo)

To finish off the immense attacking threat that Portugal will have at this upcoming world cup is Maritamo's Telma Encarnacao, who, similarly to Diana Silva, can play a crucial threat down the middle of the pitch whilst she is older than the rising star Nazareth and made her Portugal debut earlier she is a less established player in the pool of Portuguese players, this is mainly because she plays her football for Maritamo a club usually stuck at the bottom of the Liga BPI.


Despite the lack of spotlight that Encarnacao has, that didn't stop her from playing a vital role in Maritamo's survival, scoring 12 goals ensuring that her club would not be relegated, scoring twice in their 6-2 aggregate victory, winning Maritamo's relegation playoff, however, However, whilst she has started down the middle for Portugal, it is not certain that she will start in the first XI as there is fierce competition between herself, Ana Borges and Jessica Silva pushing for a place.


How Will Portugal Lineup?

Portugal has a lot of talent up front, so it is clear that in this world cup that they will take full advantage of the plethora of options that they have, and because of this, they predominantly line up with a 4-3-3 to fit as many in as possible, the likely front three being Diana Silva and Jessica Silva on the wings with the upcoming youngster Kika Nazerath playing up the middle.


In the midfield, Dolores Silva is one of the first names on the team sheet playing as a holding midfielder allowing her teammates to push further up the pitch; she is usually paired with the duo of Andriea Norton and Tatiana Pato to complete the midfield trio.


In goal, Ines Pereira was between the sticks for two of Portugal's Euro 2022; however, she struggled and wasn't able to give confidence to her defenders, and as a result, manager Francisco Neto brought back Patricia Morais as No.1 for the world cup qualifiers and most likely will start at the World Cup.


At the back, despite predominantly being an attacker Ana Borges can also play at right-back and has found her home at this position and most likely will start the tournament there with Joana Marchao playing on the left. Carole Costa and Diana Gomes appear to be Neto's favoured centre-back pairing, with Costa being the most experience, having achieved 150 appearances for Portugal.


Group E


Netherlands

Portugal may be newcomers to the World Cup. Still, they will undoubtedly be familiar with their first opponents of the tournament, The Netherlands, who Portugal faced in the group stages of Euro 2022 in a closely contested game. Still, ultimately it would be Danielle Van De Donk's 67th-minute goal that eliminated Portugal from the competition.


However, whilst Portugal bolsters a potentially deadly attacking threat, however for The Netherlands, with injuries to a number of their forwards, their attacking capability for this upcoming World Cup will have been somewhat neutralised with more pressure on the likes of Lieke Martins and Vicotria Pelova, fans will certainly still be in for a close game and that this one will be the deciding factor to how far either side may progress to the knockout stages of the tournament.


Vietnam

Portugal will be taking on fellow World Cup debutants Vietnam. Whilst Portugal is seen as favourites, Vietnam should not be taken for granted, as many of the Portuguese payers that play in Liga BPI is Vilaverdense's Huynh Nhu, one of Vietnam's most successful players, who is a highly skilful forward and a vital player for her club who is likely cause a problem for Portgual's defenders.


Additionally, Hanoi's Nguynen Thi Thanh Nha will be an additional threat to Vietnam's attack; however, they are a team that is built to be resilient and will need to be setup defensively solid if they are going to have any chance against Portugal, this game looks like certain Portugal win; however, tournament football can often be unpredictable and a potential upset could be on the cards if Portugal is unable to fix their defensive problems that occurred at the Euros.


United States

The final test for Portugal will most likely be the toughest, as they will face 4x World Cup Winners, the United States, in their final game of Group E. Included in this US team is veteran Megan Rapinoe in what is her final World Cup appearance, and with her experience of winning trophies, her leadership on the field and motivation to have one last moment of glory with the national team, the forwards are likely to be a handful for Portugal.


Rapinoe and young and upcoming forward Sophia Smith give the US a deadly strike partnership, which could be too much for Portugal's back line. The United States will surely be favourites to win their group and run riot in the group stage.


History Makers


What Portugal has done so far has been written down in the history books for Portuguese women's football, managing to do what others failed, ending a 30-year wait for World Cup Qualification as well as inspiring the next generation of Portuguese talent, showing them that it is possible to reach the pinnacle of international football and to help women football in Portugal become more sustainable so that in future Portugal can continue to be part of international competitions and at the moment the current team is on the right path to change the narrative.


Portugal will want to make their country even more proud by performing well and going as far as they can; whilst many may be unsure due to their performance at Euro 2022, tournament football can often bring up the unexpected, and whilst they do have the tough test of the United States in their group the games against Vietnam and The Netherlands are winnable if they have built on their problems from 2022, there is a high chance of them reaching the knockout stages of the competition.


























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