For 80 minutes, despite many chances, Portugal did not find a loophole against Hungary, the weakest team in Group F. Finally, CR7 and company managed to score three goals (including a penalty) in the last ten minutes. But that did not prevent critics from descending on the formation led by Fernando Santos.
Much was expected of the reigning European champions against Germany. And there it is completely gone in peanuts! A crushing defeat, four goals to two and it could have been worse. This Wednesday evening, the Portuguese will face the Blues with the objective of winning, or not losing by more than two goals, otherwise they would not qualify for the knockout stages.
Table of Contents
Lack of character
But what happened in five short years? Gary de Jesus, consultant specializing in Portugal for Europe 1 explain to us : ” there is a big problem with the lack of character. In 2016, there was less talent, but more collective. It was more disciplined and with more character. Today there are talented guys, but they have less character. For example, we have Semedo who pretends and who limits will cry afterwards, at the time, there was Cedric, who is nobody, but who is a warrior. In a collective, this kind of players, it feels good. Today we have Pepe, Cristiano, Renato, but that’s it. Missing one guy per line with that kind of character “.
But that’s not all, of course. Fernando Santos, the crowned coach in 2016, is still in charge of the country, reinforced by a victory in the League of Nations and despite a defeat in the round of 16 of the last World Cup by the score of two goals to one against the Uruguay, who will in turn fall against the future world champions, the Blues.
The philosophy of Santos in question
” The problem, it’s clear, is the coach. My theory is the parallel between France and Portugal. The two nations had very good generations, who played well, without winning. He had a first victory at the Euro, playing like France in 1998. What has stuck in people’s minds is to win despite everything and it doesn’t matter if you don’t play well. There is even a song in Portugal: “it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, if we play well or badly, the important thing is to bring the Cup back to Portugal”. These songs were born in 2016. But it is the spirit of Fernando Santos, who is a cautious coach, who plays with two numbers 6, despite all the talent he has. », Explains Gary de Jesus.
This is obviously a thought that is shared in Portugal, explains the journalist: “ against Hungary, it puts the same composition, with this double pivot, it is what returns a lot to Portugal. Except that we say to ourselves “with the generation that we have, we cannot do that”, but at one point, we would have to launch something, create something, with what he has at his disposal. We were all expecting changes sooner and breaking those two sixes. It is not clear how William Carvalho is playing so much after an almost blank season with Betis. The point is that in a press conference he brings together the critics. Before Germany, he says eye to eye “possession of the ball is going to be fundamental” and after that he leaves you a team with five defenders and two sixes. It is not coherent and we expect more ”.
The double pivot at the heart of the debates
A feeling that also transpires on the side of Nuno Barbosa, of the Jornal de Noticias. “In my opinion, the problem against Germany is that Portugal respected the opponent too much. There are images which show that before the end of the first minute of play against the Germans, the Seleção already had 10 players behind the possession line and Cristiano Ronaldo alone in front. Midfielder Danilo Pereira-William Carvalho gives physical power, but loses greatly in creativity and possession / retention of the ball ”, he analyzed. And inevitably, the critics fuse and the observers start to get annoyed. “Even if in Portugal, we have the very supportive press, they are above all supporters of Portugal, but more and more, in the news channels, there are programs which are more critical, which analyze the game more than just win or lose ”, emphasizes Gary de Jesus.
Against Germany, defensively, the Portuguese took the water, especially on the sides, where Nelson Semedo is struggling to forget João Cancelo. Robin Gosens hurt him a lot and this time he should have Kylian Mbappé in front of him, which of course won’t be any easier. If the Portuguese lose and in great width, Santos will obviously have his share of criticism, while everyone dreams, in the land of Eusebio, of a dynamic young coach, with character, capable of playing and polishing certain elements. , still in the state of rough diamonds.