Debutants Portugal are determined to pull an upset in the 2023 Women’s World Cup to demonstrate the growth in women’s games they have had in the last few years. Manager Francisco Neto is taking charge of a third international tournament hoping his side replicate their performance in Euros last summer. However, the challenge at this stage will be nothing like before.
Qualification for Women’s World Cup
Portugal participated in the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers as the lowest-ranked UEFA playoffs winner. They got a direct slot in the final with Cameroon their opposition after beating Thailand in the semifinals two days earlier. Diana Gomes’s 22nd-minute opener looks to have sent Portugal on their way to their first Women’s World Cup but an 89th equaliser by Ajara Nchout put celebrations on hold. The Selecao’s destiny though was sealed when Carole Costa concerted the decisive spot-kick in the stoppage time in a dramatic evening.
Preparation for Women’s World Cup
Neto’s side played two friendlies in April against Japan and Wales although failed to earn a win. They gave a good fight of themselves against the 2011 winners taking the lead in the match but losing 2-1 at the end. The same scenario happened in the second match with Wales coming back to draw the match 1-1. Portugal have two more friendlies to play before heading into the Women’s World Cup. The first one against Euro champions England is on the 1st of July before rounding off against Ukraine a week later. It is the latter that they will target to enter the main event on a winning note.
Saturday, 1st July 2023
England (A) - Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
Saturday, 8th July 2023
Ukraine (H) - Estadio do Bessa, Braga
Portugal Squad for 2023 Women’s World Cup
Goalkeepers: Ines Pereira (Servette), Patricia Morais (Braga), Rute Costa (Benfica)
Defenders: Joana Marchao (Parma), Lucia Alves (Benfica), Carole Costa (Benfica), Ana Seica (Benfica), Diana Gomes (Sevilla), Silvia Rebelo (Benfica), Catarina Amado (Benfica)
Midfielders: Dolores Silva (Braga), Fatima Pinto (Alaves), Andreia Norton (Benfica), Andreia Jacinto (Real Sociedad), Tatiana Pinto (Levante), Kika Nazareth (Benfica), Ana Rute (Braga)
Forwards: Diana Silva (Sporting CP), Ana Borges (Sporting CP), Ana Capeta (Sporting CP), Jessica Silva (Benfica), Carolina Mendes (Braga), Telma Encarnacao (Maritimo)
Head Coach: Francisco Neto
Ideal to the Euro Championship, Portugal will take to the pitch in the Women’s World Cup without shouldering any real pressure. And that is what will bring the best out of them. Portugal showed in the Euros that they can take on anybody and put them under pressure or create a moment of disarray. The attack is the strongest part of the team with two Silvas, Diana and Jessica making a formidable partnership with Ana Borges. The midfield also looks solid with the other Silva, Dolores anchoring it with Tatiana Pinto and Andreia Norton performing the box-to-box role. Costa-Gomes centre-half partnership also comes with goals as known by their heroics in the qualifying playoffs.
Their style of play also leaves them vulnerable defensively which could cost them in an event like this. In the Euros too, it became evident that all the good work remains undone if the right balance is not struck within the team. This will be vital against forces like the Netherlands whom they lost 3-2 in a thriller last summer and holders USA. Portugal’s rise has been admired but it will not be enough here to help them progress to the knockouts.
Key Player: Jessica Silva
The only women footballer from Portugal to have won the Women’s Champions League, Jessica Silva will be the driving force in her nation’s attack. Her speed, ability to get past opposition with her quick feet and attacking the box at every instance make her lethal on counters. The 28-year-old is in herb peak age and also in scoring form. For Benfica this season, Jessica has notched up 17 goals in 17 appearances. Another important aspect of her play will be to combine with Diana Silva to trouble the opposition further.
How Portugal will Lineup at the Women’s World Cup?
Portugal loves playing attacking football due to their explosive front trio led by star player Jessica Silva. Hence, Francisco Neto will most likely deploy the 4-3-3 formation again with some caution against the higher-ranked nation. The team can also work in a 4-3-1-2 if two strikers are needed upfront to be more compact on the pitch.
Portugal Women’s World Cup Fixtures
Sunday, 23 July 2023
Netherlands vs Portugal - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Thursday, 27 July 2023
Portugal vs Vietnam - FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Tuesday, 1 August 2023
Portugal vs United States - Eden Park, Auckland
No doubt, Portugal have a tough group to manage. Despite their spirit and fearless football style, Neto’s team is expected to struggle against the two finalists of last edition even if they get past Vietnam. So, ending in the group stages is the most likely outcome for them. However, their intensity in the attack could frustrate the dominating nations which will be something to watch for.
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