Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting), Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Istanbul BB);

Defenders: João Pereira (Valencia), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Sílvio (Deportivo), Bruno Alves (Zenit), Pepe (Real Madrid), Luís Neto (Zenit), Sereno (Valladolid)

Midfielders: Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Miguel Veloso (D. Kiev), João Moutinho (FC Porto), Custódio (Braga), Carlos Martins (Benfica), Paulo Machado (Olympiakos)

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit), Varela (FC Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Pizzi (Deportivo), Hélder Postiga (Zaragoza), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas)

Portugal manager annouced his squad for two important World Cup qualifying away matches against Israel and Azerbeijan amid injury worries and poor form.

The Seleção will know that their margin of error will be small after some poor results so far in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Portugal are currently 3rd in group F with 7 points after 4 matches.

Though not in any real danger of missing qualification, a stretch of poor results against lesser teams has put serious pressure on manager Paul Bento to get back on track. A loss to Russia, and an unexpected draw with Northern Ireland in Braga has many fans concerned about the team’s form.

This combined with a lacklustre draw with Gabon and a loss to Ecuador in friendlies. The team has been plagued with defensive mishaps and wasteful possession since their successful European Championships last June.

Bento will welcome back central defender Pepe from injury but will be missing one of his most potent offensive weapons in Nani who picked up a hamstring injury in Manchester United’s FA cup match against Chelsea.

Sporting Braga’s Eder and Ruben Micael are both out with injuries. Joao Moutinho is battling a thigh injury but was selected and is expected to start against Israel on March 22nd.

Vieirinha received his second call-up after some good performances with his Bundesliga club Wolfsburg. Deportivo winger Pizzi, Benfica’s Carlos Martins and Olympiakos’ Paulo Machado made their return to international play.

Deportivo’s Nelson Oliveira, Benfica’s Andre Gomes, Besiktas’ Manuel Fernandes, Malaga’s Vitorino Antunes and Benfica’s Andre Almeida are notable omissions.

Paulo Bento admitted to reporters that gaining automatic qualification by winning their group is less than realistic at this point but insisted that qualifying through a playoff, “Does not define our status,”


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