“It’s a team that would beat any other, even the great Brazil team of 1982!”
That was the conclusion arrived at by one of Portugal’s foremost football journalists Rui Malheiro and his colleague and host of the excellent anatomiadabola podcast, Rui Silva, after selecting a Portugal team made up of the best Luso players from the last 30 years.
The two Rui’s selected two options in each position in a 4-3-3 of the finest players to don the Seleção shirt since 1990, as well as the starting XI.
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We can argue for hours on end about the choices but one thing is unanimous: this side would be a match for any team in the modern era of the game, and exemplifies the incredible quality of footballers Portugal continues to produce, year after year.
That said, given the results the Seleção have achieved in the timespan under analysis, it is little surprise the team is stacked with such exceptional talent. The famed Golden Generation, led by standard-bearers Luís Figo and Rui Costa, may have ultimately failed to translate their remarkable footballing abilities into trophies in senior football, but it paved the way for what has undoubtedly been a golden era for Portuguese football in terms of its national team.
Since the turn of the millennium, Portugal has qualified for every European Championship and World Cup. Previously, the Seleção only made it to tournaments sporadically, failing to qualify for 22 out of 26 World Cups and European Championships prior to 2000. What’s more, Portugal have competed strongly at most of these tournaments, reaching the semi-final or better five times and culminating in a first trophy at Euro 2016.
It will also be interesting to revisit the team in just two years’ time, as Portugal prepare for two major tournaments, first defending their European Championship crown five months from now, followed up by the 2022 World Cup. Check out a sportsbook like Casumo for the latest odds when the time comes for Portugal’s players to shine on the big stage as they try and retain the European Championship title in next summer’s tournament.
More glory at the upcoming Euro or the next World Cup may force a rethink to add current players to the “best of the best” Portugal have produced in recent decades.
Portugal dream team 1990-2020
Full 22-man squad (starting option in bold, deputy in brackets)
Goalkeepers: Vítor Baía (Rui Patrício)
Defenders: Miguel (José Bosingwa), Ricardo Carvalho (Pepe), Fernando Couto (Jorge Andrade), Fábio Coentrão (Raphaël Guerreiro)
Midfielders: Paulo Sousa (Costinha), Deco (Maniche), Rui Costa (Pedro Barbosa)
Forwards: Paulo Futre (João Pinto), Luís Figo (João Félix), Cristiano Ronaldo (Nuno Gomes)
Coach: Fernando Santos (António Oliveira)
Pride of Portugal
Another interesting facet of this exercise is to compare the line-up with hypothetical similar teams from other nations. Can any other country boast such an array of top talent across the pitch? Possibly only the traditional football powerhouses such as Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Germany and Spain would come close.
Or to put it another way, how many of the Portugal 1990-2020 dream team would be selected in a similar team for all players regardless of nationality? In other words, an XI made up of the greatest players over the last 30 years. Cristiano Ronaldo is a lock, but it would be far from outrageous to consider picking any of the Portuguese midfielders/forwards shown above in such a multi-national team.
For a country of 11 million people, that is not bad going when you take into account we are talking about the world’s most popular and most played sport.
Do you agree with the 30-year selection of the Seleção? Please comment below.