Portugal

Portugal national football team logo
Portugal

World Cup Participation

1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022

Championships:

None

Portugal National Football Team History

20th Century

The Portugal national football team has been one of the best national teams of the 21st century. Even though they have had recent success, Portugal qualified for just two World Cups in the 20th century.

In the early days, the closest Portugal came to World Cup qualification was 1938. They lost 2-1 to Syria, which eliminated them from World Cup contention. In fact, Portugal were unable to win a WCQ match until a 3-0 defeat of Italy in 1954. Still, fans had to wait until 1966 for the first Portugal FIFA World Cup appearance.

Incredibly, Portugal topped their group with wins over Hungary, Brazil and Bulgaria. Eusebio scored four goals in a 5-3 quarterfinals win over North Korea but England defeated Portugal in the semifinals. The Seleção finished their first World Cup campaign with a win over the Soviet Union for third place.

Portugal first qualified for the European Championships in 1984 and went through to the semifinals with a win and two draws. Despite two goals from Jordao, France knocked off Portugal 3-2 in extra time.

In 1986, Portugal played at their second FIFA World Cup in Mexico. They qualified by beating West Germany in West Germany, which was the first time any team had done that to date. However, their appearance was overshadowed by the “Saltillo Affair”. One of the players tested positive for anabolic steroids and players went on strike pre-tournament until the prizes were increased, among other controversies.

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Portugal National Football Team Records

Regardless, Portugal won their opening match vs. England. However, a draw and loss in their next two matches meant Portugal were knocked out in the World Cup group stage.

The Seleção failed to qualify for the next four major tournaments, until Euro 1996. Portugal made the semifinals at Euro 2000 and returned to the World Cup in 2002. With parallels to the 1986 disaster, Portugal national football team were once again eliminated in the group stage.
First Final, Heartbreak and Redemption

Portugal hosted Euro 2004 and a 19-year old Cristiano Ronaldo scored in a 2-1 loss vs. Greece in his major tournament debut. Regardless, Portugal won the group over Greece and the two teams met once again in the final. Playing at home in Lisbon, Portugal were heavily favored but lost 1-0 and Greece completed one of the most unlikely runs in soccer history.

At Germany 2006, Portugal finished on top of Group D with wins over Mexico, Iran and Angola. The Seleção beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the round of 16 and knocked off England in penalties in the quarterfinals. In their first semifinals appearance since 1966, Portugal lost 1-0 to France.

Qualifying for their third consecutive World Cup for the first time, Portugal did well in the 2010 Group Stage. They scored the biggest margin of victory at the tournament with a massive 7-0 win vs. North Korea. Portugal’s other two matches, vs. Brazil and Ivory Coast, finished in scoreless draws. After going over five hours without conceding a goal, Portugal lost 1-0 to eventual champions Spain in the round of 16.

Ronaldo was a joint-top scorer at Euro 2012 as Portugal national football team reached the semifinals for the first time since 2000. For a second consecutive major tournament, Portugal were eliminated by Spain, this time on penalties.

Portugal were drawn in a tough group in the 2014 World Cup, with Germany, Ghana and the USA. Germany destroyed the Seleção in the opener, 4-0. A 2-2 draw with the USA and 2-1 win vs. Ghana weren’t enough for Portugal to advance to the knockout stage.

With three consecutive draws to open Euro 2016, Portugal’s start was largely uninspiring. Fernando Santos’s Portugal barely qualified for the knockout stage as one of the top four third-place teams. Regardless, Ricardo Quaresma’s tap-in goal in extra time vs. Croatia sent Portugal to the quarterfinals.

Portugal weren’t exactly convincing but they got the job done in penalties vs. Poland to advance to the semis. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani scored their third goals of the tournament to lead Portugal to a 2-0 win over Wales. In their first final since 2004 heartbreak, Portugal faced hosts France. Ronaldo went off early with an injury but Portugal managed to force extra time.

Eder scored the game’s only goal and Portugal won their first major tournament in stunning fashion. The Seleção won just one of their seven matches in normal time but still went home with a trophy. Renato Sanches won the tournament’s Best Young Player Award.

Ronaldo scored his first career World Cup hat trick in a 3-3 2018 draw vs. France. He then broke Ferenc Puskas’s record for most European international goals with the game’s only goal vs. Morocco. With a 1-1 draw vs. Iran, Portugal advanced in second place in their group. However, they were eliminated 2-1 by Uruguay in the round of 16.

Portugal national football team won the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019 and qualified for Qatar 2022 with playoff wins over Turkey and North Macedonia.

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