As winners of the UEFA Euro 2016, Portugal will compete in their very first Confederations Cup. With four matchdays to go, they sit in second place in World Cup qualifying, and as things stand, they'll be going into the playoff for the chance to hoist the trophy next year in Russia. Portugal were unlikely winners of last year's Euros, and they'll feel they have a point to prove coming into the Confederations Cup.
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Portugal's original core is aging
Portugal's first 'golden generation' boasted the likes of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Deco. They never won a trophy, and it took the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and co. to bring the first major silverware for A Seleccao. This coming World Cup could be the last time we see a number of those old stalwarts though, with a number of their key players getting on in years. Ronaldo's 32, Pepe is 34, Bruno Alves is 35, Ricardo Quaresma is 33, and the young ones of the bunch, Joao Moutinho and Nani are now 30. They don't have much time left.
Bernardo Silva leads Portugal's new 'Golden Generation'
While Portugal's OG core is aging, they've got a new golden generation coming through that have given Portuguese fans a lot to be excited about. Bernardo Silva couldn't even crack the starting XI for the Euros, but the new Manchester City man leads a crop of prodigiously talented young stars that look to have everything it takes to lead their country to more silverware in the future. Renato Sanches wasn't even included in this squad, but youngsters like Raphael Guerreiro, Gelson Martins, Andre Gomes and Andre Silva have shown that they have what it takes to carry Portugal forward.
Star midfielder Joao Mario will miss Confederations Cup
Joao Mario was an inspiration for Portugal as they marched to the Euro 2016 title, but the creative midfielder won't be running things in the middle of the park this tournament. The Inter Milan midfielder picked up a calf injury, and the Portuguese will sorely miss his inspirational presence on the ball. The men who'll likely step in for him, Joao Moutinho and Adrien Silva aren't slouches, but Mario will be a big loss.
Andre Silva may be the striker Portugal have been waiting for
For years, Portugal have cried out for a legitimate striker to pick up the slack left by former star attackers Nuno Gomes and Pauleta. Now, it looks like they have their guy in Andre Silva. The brand new AC Milan striker has knocked in seven goals in eight appearances for Portugal, but he's passed the biggest litmus test there is: he's got Ronaldo's approval. The two have scored 14 goals together in the four World Cup qualifiers they've lined up in (Ronaldo notching nine and Silva five), and CR7 has spoken glowingly of the 21-year-old hitman.
"Since Andre has come into the side, he has been phenomenal," Ronaldo said.
Not bad words from Portugal's greatest ever.
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Cristiano Ronaldo says it'd be a 'dream' to win the Confederations Cup
Ronaldo's having just about the greatest period of all time. In the space of just over a year he's won two Champions League trophies, the European Championship, La Liga, and the Ballon d'Or. He wants to add the Confederations Cup to that, and says it'd be a "dream" to do it.
"It will be the first time Portugal compete for the Confederations Cup trophy," he told FIFA earlier in the year. "It's going to be beautiful and will stay on our CV.
"Obviously, it's a dream to win, but we know it's going to be hard as some great teams will be there. But in football, everything is possible."
Should Portugal go on to lift the trophy, it'll cap an absolutely astounding run for the man from Madeira.
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