Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo leads the 26-man nomination of Portuguese footballers for the final matches of the League of Nations with the Czech Republic and Spain, which was announced today by coach Fernando Santos.
In addition to Ronaldo, there are also other mainstays in the nomination – goalkeeper Rui Patrício from AS Roma, defender Pepe from FC Porto, midfielders Bernardo Silva from Manchester City and Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United, and striker Diogo Jota from FC Liverpool.
Thirty-seven-year-old Ronaldo has only made it into Manchester United’s starting line-up twice this season, and his future at the club is still being speculated. However, he has an unshakable position in the national team, with 117 goals he is the world record holder and with 189 matches the European record holder.
Unlike four teammates from Wolverhampton, experienced midfielder Joao Moutinho did not get nominated this time. Goalkeeper José Sá and defender Tiago Djaló are waiting for their first start for the national team. Eleven players from the nomination are active in the English Premier League.
The Portuguese are second in the table, one point behind Spain. After four rounds, the Czechs are in third place, one point ahead of last-place Switzerland.
It is already clear that the match will be sold out. The last few hundred tickets were bought by fans during Wednesday afternoon. “We have a very difficult but also attractive match ahead of us. We thank the fans for their interest and we are all looking forward to the match. Staying among the best in the League of Nations would be a great success for us, for which every member of the team will give their best.” stated the coach of the Czech national team, Jaroslav Šilhavý.
The best team of the group will advance to the Final Four, the worst will be relegated. The Czechs lost 0:2 in their opening match against Portugal in Lisbon in June.
Portugal’s nominations for the Nations League matches with the Czech Republic (September 24) and Spain (September 27):
Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), José Sá (Wolverhampton/Eng.), Rui Patrício (AS Roma/It.).
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United/Eng.), Joao Cancelo, Rúben Dias (both Manchester City/Eng.), Pepe (FC Porto), Tiago Djaló (Lille/Fr.), Raphaël Guerreiro (Dortmund/Der.), Danilo Pereira , Nuno Mendes.
Midfielders: Vitinha (all Paris St. Germain/Fr.), Joao Palhinha (Fulham/Eng.), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City/Eng.), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United/Eng.), Joao Mário (Benfica Lisbon), William Carvalho (Betis Sevilla/Sp.), Matheus Nunes, Rúben Neves.
Attackers: Pedro Neto (all Wolverhampton/Eng.), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United/Eng.), Diogo Jota (FC Liverpool/Eng.), Joao Félix (Atlético Madrid/Sp.), Rafa Silva (Benfica Lisbon), Rafael Leao ( AC Milan/It.), Ricardo Horta (Braga).