Portugal World Cup PreviewPosted: Monday May 27, 2002 5:46 PM
How they line up
Antonio Oliveira's ideal formation is 4-4-2, but such a tactical description does not do justice to the fluidity and movement of which the side are capable.
Ricardo, the first-choice keeper, is a competent, confident all-rounder who now has Champions League experience under his belt with Boavista. He established himself after injuries sidelined Vitor Baia. The veteran FC Porto keeper has surprisingly been recalled by Oliveira, and could yet win his place back. The third spot is a doubt after the most likely candidate, Quim, tested positive for nandrolone recently.
In defence, Fernando Couto and Jorge Costa are an experienced pairing in the centre, although doubts over Costa's long-term suitability have been heightened by the progress made by the promising youngster Jorge Andrade. On the right flank, Abel Xavier will start, having made good progress at club level following his mid-season move to Liverpool from Everton.
On the left, Rui Jorge is a good all-rounder: quick, intelligent and ruthless in both defense and attack.
In the wings are Beto, an uncompromising center-back who can also play at right-back, utility player Nuno Frechaut, the solid but limited Litos, and Fernando Meira, a tactically astute defender who can also play in midfield.
Armando Petit has established himself as the defensive anchor in midfield after a couple of excellent seasons for Boavista. The mercurial Rui Costa is a key figure as the playmaker. On his day he is one of the world's best midfielders, a beautifully balanced player with great vision, skill and acceleration. But it remains to be seen how his poor, injury-plagued season at Milan will affect him.
Luis Figo, the current FIFA World Footballer of the Year, is likely to start on the left flank, although he prefers the right, where Sergio Conceicao is more likely to play. Conceicao could be used as a more conventional ball-winner, with Figo on the right and Petit on the left. Nuno Capucho has had a spectacular season for FC Porto, but is most likely to be an attacking option from the bench. Another revelation of the Portuguese League season, Hugo Viana, has made rapid progress in the past 12 months. He could yet force his way into the reckoning. The experienced Paulo Bento and veteran Paulo Sousa are in contention as alternatives to Petit, while the versatile, hard-working Jose Luis Vidigal also provides cover in midfield.
Pauleta has displaced Nuno Gomes as the focal point of the attack. Voted player of the season in France, his star has risen as rapidly as that of Nuno Gomes -- a victim of Fiorentina's relegation season -- has fallen. Joao Pinto is the most likely partner for Pauleta, playing in a more withdrawn role. The injury that is likely to sideline right-winger Simao Sabrosa could open the door for Luis Boa Morte or Ricardo Quaresma.
Oliveira could also opt for a 4-5-1 formation, with Capucho replacing Joao Pinto.
From World Soccer magazine.