Portugal Camp Focus – Functionality over flair as Portugal progress

Amidst the media hype leading up to the match against Brazil, Carlos Queiroz identified: “That’s what the World Cup is all about: the players and the beautiful game. We’ll endeavour to try to play. Football must be king at the end of the World Cup.” And whilst his utopian ideal may yet be fulfilled before the tournament is out, it was certainly far from being achieved on Friday.

From the moment that the teamsheet was handed in, it was obvious that Portugal’s sole aim was to avoid defeat, securing the point that would see them qualify. The state of play in Group G heading in to the final round of fixtures dictated that the match was always likely to see caution prevail over attacking football. Brazil, having already qualified with six points from their opening two fixtures, had no real incentive to attack and Portugal could afford to lose and still progress should Ivory Coast fail to achieve the required nine-goal swing. Similarly, with the tournament schedule pairing the teams against their counterparts from Group H – with the final positions yet to be decided at the time of Portugal’s kick-off – there was no real incentive to finishing either first or second. For both sides, avoiding defeat maintained their momentum in the tournament, leaving them unbeaten after the group stage and ensuring that they progress, albeit without the expected gusto.

In the build-up to the match Coach Queiroz set out his ideal that Portugal would: “Change the rhythm of Brazil,” and talked of how: “We are not going to play for a draw but we are going out to win.” Yet, holding back from being effusive in his optimism, the Coach managed expectation by putting the game into context: “Any victory against Brazil is always an excellent result for any team,but even a draw for that matter.” His selection certainly indicated that a draw would suffice. In an attempt to disrupt Brazil’s rhythm, the primarily defensive Duda slotted in on the left wing to provide cover for youngster F

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