Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

POR­TU­GAL’S qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the World Cup fi­nals has been greeted with more re­lief than eu­pho­ria in Lis­bon, which is a sign that ex­pec­ta­tions have low­ered in this foot­ball­crazy coun­try.

De­spite doubts con­cern­ing who will stand in goal, the Por­tuguese de­fence looks fairly solid nowa­days. Paulo Fer­reira and Miguel are ex­pe­ri­enced right­backs, while the mus­cu­lar Jose Bos­ingwa is an­other op­tion down the right. Coach Car­los Queiroz is lucky to have four high-qual­ity cen­tre­backs in Ri­cardo Car­valho, Bruno Alves, Fer­nando Miera and Pepe.

Two pow­er­ful young mid­field­ers, Raul Meire­les and Joao Moutinho, have emerged since 2008 while Duda pro­vides class and imagination out on the left. None­the­less, it is a mid­field of mus­cle rather than of craft and vi­sion.

At least Por­tu­gal will be strong down the flanks. Queiroz has four qual­ity wingers at his dis­posal: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, Nani and Si­mao, plus the volatile Ri­cardo Quaresma, who is out of form and favour.

How­ever, re­li­able strik­ers are few and far be­tween – of­ten a Por­tuguese prob­lem – and a lot de­pends on Sport­ing Lis­bon vet­eran Lied­son.

The Star: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo (left) has all of the at­tributes needed to be the per­son­al­ity of the tour­na­ment: charisma, star qual­ity, pace, power, vi­sion, imagination – and an un­canny eye for goal.

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