4 surprises that can happen in the 2018 World Cup (3)

Russia World Cup 2018 countdown—5 DAYS 

**Portugal and Ronaldo could disappoint again 

The last time Portugal made it to the quarter-finals of a World Cup was back in 2006, where they ousted England on penalties to make their way into the semi-finals of the competition. They were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Spain in South Africa and couldn’t go past the group stages in Brazil four years ago.

Portugal’s first game of the tournament sees them lock horns with former World Champions Spain and will later face Iran and Morocco in subsequent games. Portugal had won the Euros in 2016 and are the reigning European Champions on that basis.

But it would be fair to say that the quality in their side has reduced since then and almost every single game in the regulation time in the Euros had ended in a draw for them, including the final. They could not defeat a single team in the knockout stages in the 90 minutes, bar the 2-0 win over Wales in the semi-final. And the defence was a more vital part of their campaign than the attack.

This time around, their defence has degraded. Pepe is no way near his best. Jose Fonte has aged and now plays in the backwaters of China. Bruno Alves has become fallen off if he wasn’t too good before already. All three of them are above the age of 32 and Ruben Dias, who is the fourth defender they have, has made just a single senior team appearance for Portugal.

The imbalance in the side has never been more. And it won’t be a surprise if Portugal don’t make it to the knockout stages.

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