Although the Portuguese national football team has never won any major competition at senior level, nor had they reached a final before Euro 2004, Portugal usually play very attractive football and can produce some great performances, playing head-to-head with the world's best national sides.
However, the team has proven itself equally capable of mediocre performances against inferior teams. On October 9, 2004, Portugal suffered a humiliating 2-2 draw against Liechtenstein in a 2006 World Cup qualifier. The Liechtenstein team had never earned a point in its previous 20 World Cup qualifiers, and Portugal blew a 2-0 halftime lead. The Portuguese media savaged the team after the draw; one Lisbon paper called the team "Europe's Laughingstock." The team took out its frustrations four days later with a 7-1 demolition of Russia, the largest defeat ever for the Russian side since the demise of the Soviet Union.
Portugal's best performance yet was in the 1966 World Cup, in their very first World Cup appearance, when they reached the semifinals and lost only to eventual world champions England. Led by their legendary player Eusébio, they put up amazing performances, knocking out previous World Cup champions Brazil and fighting back from a 3-0 result in the quarterfinals against North Korea, winning by 5-3. Portugal eventually finished in third place and Eusébio was considered the best player of the tournament.
Since then, Portugal has only qualified for the World Cup twice, each time with appalling results. In 1986 Portugal arrived in Mexico as semi-finalists of the Euro 84, but a player uprising in Saltillo against poor conditions, followed by harsh punishment against key players involved in the uprising, undermined player confidence. Although they did beat group favourites England in the first game, they lost the remaining games to Poland and Morocco (which turned to be Morocco's first win ever in the World Cup).
Months before the start of the 2002 World Cup, Portugal lost in the Estádio do Bessa against Finland 1-4. This proved to be a preview of things to come, when Portugal (for some the dark horse in the competition) failed miserably to get through the group stage, after losing to the United States in the opening match 3-2, beating Poland 4-0 but losing 1-0 against South Korea, in a game where João Vieira Pinto punched referee Angel Sanchez after being sent off early in the game. Weeks later, it was known that before the final match the players argued with federation representatives about prizes. Before the competition, midfielder Daniel Kenedy was removed from the squad after failing to pass a doping test and replaced with Hugo Viana, who did not play in the competition. This decision, along with leaving qualifying phase goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira on the bench in favor of Vítor Baía, led to much questioning about then-coach António Oliveira 's choices.
Few national teams have had to live up to greater expectations than the Portugal team from roughly 1994 to 2004. The Portugal under-20 national team won two successive FIFA World Youth Championships in 1989 and 1991 with a virtual galaxy of stars, the greatest of whom were midfielders Luís Figo and Rui Costa; these stars were dubbed the golden generation. However, they were never able to transfer their success at youth level to ultimate victory at senior level. The remaining members of the "golden generation", along with younger talent such as Cristiano Ronaldo, finally led Portugal to its first-ever senior-level final at Euro 2004. Portugal lost 1-0 to Greece in the final. Their only win in any international competition at senior level remains the 1995 SkyDome Cup in Canada.
World Cup record
European Championship record
Last updated: 08-08-2005 19:44:05