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The darkhorse of the finals, Portugal looks set to spring a surprise or two against the established contenders. The team is closely knit, sound on technique and plays with the flair of a vintage Brazil.
The nucleus of this side is the '91 World Youth Cup-winning squad. It bears testimony in the team's organisation and understanding, which was best exemplified in the Euro '98 campaign.
Portugal's wealth of talent begins with the midfield. Figo and Rui Costa rank among the best midfielders money can buy. Sergio Conceicao adds depth to the midfield, while Nuno Gomes, Joao Pinto and Pauleta are nippy and effective in the forward line.
Drawn against South Korea, Poland and USA, Portugal can breathe easy in the initial rounds. The downside to this gifted squad is its supreme confidence. In the ultimate analysis, complacency may just come between Portugal and World Cup glory.
Nelson Pereira, Ricardo Pereira, Vitor Baia.
June 16, 2002
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