AS Monaco's João Moutinho Will Lead Portugal's Midfield In Brazil Photo: Wikipedia Commons/ Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/ Fanny Schertzer

Portugal’s midfield was the source of some debate during the 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign. The Selecção struggled to manufacture scoring opportunities, even against far weaker teams like Northern Ireland and Israel, leaving many to question whether the midfield trio of Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles and João Moutinho was still the best option.

Since becoming Portugal’s manager, Paulo Bento has always preferred a 4-3-3 formation with a midfield ‘triangle’ in the middle. Miguel Veloso has played in the defensive midfielder role, with Meireles and Moutinho in front. The midfield has lacked creativity and fluidity at times since Euro 2012.

At the same time, an emerging generation of young midfielders appear ready to challenge the more established veterans for playing time. Sporting Lisbon’s midfield ‘three’, along with FC Porto’s Josué and Benfica’s André Gomes are all exciting prospects.

Futebol Factory looks at the midfield position for Portugal ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Tickets Booked: João Moutinho (AS Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kyiv), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe)

On The Bubble: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Josué (FC Porto), Rúben Micael (Sporting Braga), Custódio (Sporting Braga), André Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), Adrien Silva (Sporting Lisbon), Paulo Machado (Olympiacos), André Gomes (Benfica)

AS Monaco’s João Moutinho is simply one of the best box-to-box midfielders in football today. At only 27-years-old, he is already extremely accomplished and should lead the Portuguese midfield for many more years.

Moutinho recorded eights assists in 10 matches during World Cup qualifying. He also delivered two brilliant passes to Cristiano Ronaldo on that magical night in Stockholm that sealed Portugal’s place in Brazil.

After that, things appear far less simple. Fenerbahçe’s Raul Meireles is also a box-to-box midfielder, who has previously played for Liverpool and Chelsea. But since moving to Turkey last season, he has seen his quality drop. Although he is still a good tackler and rarely gives up possession, the offensive side of his game is not what it was.

The 30-year-old put in a good performance in Lisbon against Sweden, but was largely anonymous in the second leg in Stockholm. He remains one of the most experienced players on the Selecção and if he remains healthy, is very likely to be in Brazil.

Dynamo Kyiv’s Miguel Veloso has played in defensive midfield since the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and has performed the role well. The problem is that Veloso is not a ‘true’ defensive midfielder, lacking the physicality, defensive instincts and tackling ability.

Bento has used him in the role because of the lack of better options at the position. But the 27-year-old could still be a very effective midfield ‘creator’ in a more forward role.

The rest of the players in contention fall into two groups: Experienced veterans who are yet to fully prove themselves and promising youngsters who await their opportunity.

Sporting Braga’s Rúben Micael is a former first-choice midfielder whose recent form for Portugal has led to some negative criticism. But he has remained a mainstay on the squad. His teammate at Braga, Custodio has received some caps under Paulo Bento but is no longer first-choice at club level. But he is a good defensive midfielder who plays simple, reliable football.

Benfica’s Ruben Amorim is currently out with a knee injury but has in the past been selected by Bento as well. His performances for Benfica have been positive so far this year and he has been a reliable substitute for Portugal when called upon. Nominally a central midfielder, he could also play right-back.

Olympiacos’ Paulo Machado is no longer first-choice with the Greek club, although he was recently called up for an international friendly against the Netherlands and remains in contention.

In the youth category, Paulo Bento has a level of quality not seen for some time if ever. William Carvalho, André Martins and Adrien Silva have formed the Sporting Lisbon midfield this season and all have very good potential.

Angolan-born William Carvalho has been one of the best players in the Portuguese League this year with his excellent displays in defensive midfield. So much so that, Arsenal, Manchester United and Juventus have taken notice.

A calm demeanor, combined with good passing, physical strength and strong football IQ, have many people predicting big things for the 21-year-old. He received his first cap in Portugal’s 3-2 win against Sweden.

Andre Martins and French-born Adrien Silva have been selected by Paul Bento before, although they were left out against Sweden. Both have been in good form this season for a resurgent Sporting Lisbon side. Martins is a playmaker or Number ten-type, while Silva is a box-to-box midfielder.

FC Porto’s Josué is another promising midfielder for the Selecção, who could also play on the wing. He recently started in place of Raul Meireles against Luxembourg and played very well.

Although he has a history of disciplinary issues. He was reportedly released from FC Porto in 2011 for that reason. So far this year he received a one game suspension for spitting on another player.

In addition, he was also caught on camera flashing a obsence gesture to the crowd after Cristiano Ronaldo’s third goal in Stockholm. Paulo Bento has not spoken publicly on the incident but he is well-known for being a strict disciplinarian.

Benfica’s André Gomes remains another possibility. He received his first call-up to the national team in February against Ecuador but did not play. Gomes is widely touted as a future star but is currently not seeing much action with Benfica.

Related Posts:

THE FULL BACKS: Who Will Represent Portugal At The World Cup In Brazil?

THE CENTRE BACKS: Who Will Represent Portugal At The World Cup In Brazil?

THE GOALKEEPERS: Who Will Represent Portugal At The World Cup In Brazil?

FEATURE: 10 Portuguese Players Who Need To Improve Before The World Cup

FEATURE: 5 Players That Could Help Portugal Beat Sweden And Reach Brazil 2014

FEATURE: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s Promising Youngster André Gomes

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Promising Midfielder André Martins

TRANSFER WINDOW: Josué And Licá Join FC Porto

SCOUTING REPORT: Paços de Ferreira’s Playmaker Josué

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Emerging Star Midfielder William Carvalho

PLAYER PROFILE: Manchester United Are Interested In Signing William Carvalho

TRANSFER WINDOW: João Moutinho And James Rodriguez Officially Join AS Monaco

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