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Rediff.com  » Sports » Portugal drop nearly half of Euro-winning squad for World Cup

Portugal drop nearly half of Euro-winning squad for World Cup

Last updated on: May 18, 2018 14:46 IST

IMAGE: Portugal’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning Euro 2016 at Stade de France in Paris July 11, 2016. Photograph: John Sibley/Livepic/Reuters

Nearly half of Portugal's triumphant Euro 2016 squad will miss the World Cup after coach Fernando Santos made what he said were difficult choices in naming his final 23 for Russia on Thursday.

 

Centre forward Eder, who scored the winning goal in the Euro 2016 final against France, was among 10 players from that squad omitted from Santos's list.

Other unlucky players included midfielders Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches, forward Nani and defender Eliseu.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal's all-time leading scorer and most-capped player, headed the list for the European champions, who face Spain, Morocco and Iran in a tricky first round group.

Other stalwarts included goalkeeper Rui Patricio, central defenders Pepe (35) and Bruno Alves (36), midfielders William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho and flamboyant forward Ricardo Quaresma.

"It was extremely difficult to choose the 23. As a professional, I have to make decisions and I know that I'm not going to please everyone," Santos told a news conference.

"But, on the personal side, it hurts me to leave out players who took part in the European championship, and others who took part in the qualifiers and helped the team get this far.

"It was, of course, difficult to leave out Eder, Nani and others who wrote the most brilliant page in the history of Portuguese football. But I have to pick the ones who best complete the jigsaw."

Russian-based midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who is 32 and has won 12 caps, was one of those to be included alongside Napoli left back Mario Rui.

"I can't say whether this squad is stronger than the one which played at the Euros," Santos said. "But I have absolute confidence in this squad just as I did in the other one."

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyonnais), Beto (Goztepe), Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)

Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Joao Mario (West Ham United), Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalho (Sporting)

Forwards: Andre Silva (Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas).

Payet left out of France squad

Marseille's Dimitri Payet during the warm up before the match

IMAGE: Dimitri Payet warms-up before a match. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

France must cope without in-form Dimitri Payet at the World Cup after the forward was ruled out of due to injury on Thursday and Alexandre Lacazette was omitted from the squad.

Arsenal striker Lacazette, who scored 14 goals in 32 Premier League appearances this season, features in a list of 11 players on stand-by should one of the 23 men selected by Deschamps get injured before the coach hands his list to FIFA on June 4, 10 days before the start of the tournament in Russia.

There is no such hope for Payet, however, as he sustained a muscle injury in Olympique de Marseille's 3-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

"He was a serious candidate for a place in the 23 but for this kind of injury it's usually three weeks of recovery," Deschamps told reporters.

"And there is a risk of hurting yourself again with this kind of injury and I must give my final list to FIFA on June 4."

As expected, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is not in the squad after being snubbed since being involved in a sex tape-blackmail scandal in 2015.

"Players have repaid my faith and I put the group above everything," Deschamps said.

Deschamps will rely on a strike force of Antoine Griezmann, who scored twice in the Europa League final, Chelsea's Olivier Giroud and Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

Manchester United's Anthony Martial is also on stand-by as Deschamps preferred Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele.

"Like every time, some players will play, others will not play at all. The most important thing is the life of the group," Deschamps said.

Les Bleus, who take on Australia, Denmark and Peru in Group C, begin their training camp on May 23, with only Raphael Varane missing out on the start as he will play in the Champions League final for Real Madrid three days later.

The squad, without injured centre back Laurent Koscielny, lacks experience, with an average age of 26 and only nine players from the group who reached the Euro 2016 final.

"There is less experience but there still is ambition," said Deschamps, who surprisingly called up Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi and left out PSG's Adrien Rabiot.

"He plays the same way as N'Golo Kante. Adrien (Rabiot) suffered from the competition with Pogba, Tolisso and Matuidi," the coach said.

France squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City/ENG), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart/GER), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/ESP), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/ITA), Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla/ESP), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/ENG), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/GER)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona/ESP), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille). 

 
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