So, we’ve kicked off the World Cup but Portugal have not got history in the competition despite being high favourites to win the tournament, mainly due to superstar and England fans “winker”, Cristiano Ronaldo. Of course, after the recent loss of Ronaldo Manchester United replace-ee, Nani. Although, Portugal have never won the World Cup, they always seem to go far, and 2006 was a superb tournament for former Brazil manager (a Portuguese speaking nation of course), Felipe Scolari.
They started the tournament superbly with a win over another Portuguese speaking nations, Angola, but tight at that with a poor 1-0 win to the Angolans, who were at their first World Cup and looked like an established side. Pauleta, the much travelled striker, scored a goal after 4 minutes and this lasted throughout the rest of the game with both sides showing little chances of scoring another. A little known fact about the World Cup is that it was the Germany World Cup was the first too have 3 Portuguese speaking team, these being the mighty Brazil, minnows Angola and of course, Portugal.
The second game, Angola went to Mexico and earned a draw, a good result for a smaller side against World Cup experience, the Angolans running away with a point. Portugal met Iran in Frankfurt and Deco, then of Barcelona, returned to the side and scored the first goal on the 69th minute, having not appeared in the 1-0 win over Angola. It was the first time Portugal had met Iran since 1972, having then won 3-0. The game finished 2-0 to Portugal with Deco and Ronaldo scoring the goals but not until the middle of the second half, another strong performance by Iran who had only appeared in 2 other World Cups, those being 1978 in Argentina and France in 1998.
The final game of Group , Iran took on Angola, which ended in a 0-0 draw, meaning the Angolans ended on a respectable 2 but Iran only on a miserly 1 point. Not as if they were expected to do any better though, really! Portugal finished the group on a maximum 9 points after a 2-1 win against Mexico, the only goal they conceded in Group D.
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Portugal 3 3 0 0 5 1 +4 9
Mexico 3 1 1 1 4 3 +1 4
Angola 3 0 2 1 1 2 −1 2
Iran 3 0 1 2 2 6 −4 1
So, Portugal were flying until the next round, when they were drawn against the Orange Army of Holland. This was possibly the game that most football fans, whether Dutch, Portuguese or Neutral were looking forward too. However, the strong crowd of around 41,000 was hugely disappointed with only a 23rd minute goal from Maniche, the former Chelsea man, sending the Portuguese through too face the might of England, then managed by Sven Goran Erikksson who went on to manage Manchester City.
This was too be the downfall of Sven Goran Erikksson and his last game in charge and was replaced by Steve McClaren, who at the time was in charge of Middlesbrough. Although, as expected England went out on penalties after play a good game. After playing a very good game, but looking unlikely to score other than very early, Portugal went through 3-0 on penalties, as England went without key striker Wayne Rooney. Ronaldo became the most hated player in England, and possibly the most liked player in Scotland after complaining the Argentinean referee to sent the Scouse striker off, or at least to most England fans.
Portugal’s tournament was then ended by the French in the Semi Finals, the closest the Portugal team has come to winning the World Cup since 1966 when they finished third, Portugal only finishing fourth in 2006, as they lost to Germany in the third place off. Zidane scored the only goal of the game with a penalty, on the 33rd minute.
Overall, though Portugal had a good tournament, and will go well in 2010. Will Ronaldo work his magic in South Africa or will Portugal miss the left foot of Nani? Only time will tell.
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