Portugal heads to Russia with 13 players from Euro 2016 win
Coach Fernando Santos announced a 23-man squad on Thursday, including nine players who started the final against France at Euro 2016.
The only two starters from the final who will not make it are Nani and Renato Sanches.
”It hurts not to be able to include all the players who were with us in the European Championship,” Santos said. ”All of them helped us write a brilliant page in the history of Portuguese football.”
Andre Gomes’ Barcelona teammate Nelson Semedo was also left out. Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao, who has been on loan with Sporting Lisbon, was omitted after saying he wasn’t in the best condition to play for the national team.
”I have to make my decisions taking into consideration the players I believe will best fit the puzzle,” Santos said. ”I trust these players the same way I trusted the players who played at Euro 2016.”
Portugal will begin World Cup preparations without Ronaldo, who will play the Champions League final for Madrid against Liverpool on May 26.
Santos’ men will start their World Cup campaign against Spain on June 15 in Sochi.
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica).