Portugal manager Fernando Santos today announced his 25-man squad for A Seleção’s matches with Andorra (Friendly – 11/11) , France (Nations League – 14/11) and Croatia (Nations League -17/11).
The Notable Inclusions
Wolves’ Pedro Neto recieves his first senior call-up, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to do so! The 19-year-old has been excellent for his club and has also been standing out while on Portugal u21 duty. Fernando Santos, who is famed for rewarding form and picking players based on merit, has decided that it is time for Neto to make the step-up to the senior side.
SC Braga striker Paulinho makes the Portugal squad for the first time. He was close to a senior call up back in 2018, when Santos included him in the preliminary 35-man squad for the World Cup, however he did not make the final cut. He will be eager to pull on the senior Seleção jersey for the first time, having last represented Portugal at u21 level eight years ago.
Granada CF defender Domingos Duarte is recalled to the Portugal squad due to Pepe’s injury and this time he will hoping to make his national team debut. Duarte was part of the Portugal squad for the games against Croatia and Sweden in September but did not make an appearance. The 25-year-old is a solid defender and was integral to Granada’s success last season in La Liga, as they qualified for European competition in the first time in their history.
The Notable Omissions
Veteran defender Pepe unfortunately misses out due to injury. This is a big blow for Santos’ side, his presence will be sorely missed particularly in the game against France. He was excellent in the return fixture back in October and even at 37-years-old, he is still Portugal’s best central defender. His omission from the squad does however give Santos a chance to shuffle the pack and possibly test out the likes of Domingos Duarte and Rúben Semedo or possibly even Danilo Pereira at CB, because there will come a time in the not too distant future when the wonderful Pepe decides to hang up his boots and Portugal need to be as prepared for that event as possible.
Rafael Leão is another omission that perhaps took people by surprise. He has been excellent for AC Milan so far this season and is forging a really strong partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic from whom he will be learning a lot from. His performances in both Serie A and the UEFA Europa League means he will be definitely on Santos’ radar but this time around he will have to make do with u21 duty, although a first-team call up is not far away at all.
The squad in full:
Goalkeepers – Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyon), Rui Patrício (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC) and Rui Silva (Granada CF);
Defenders – João Cancelo (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Domingos Duarte (Granada CF), José Fonte (LOSC Lille), Rúben Semedo (Olympiacos), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Mário Rui (SSC Napoli) and Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund);
Midfielders – William Carvalho (Bétis) Danilo Pereira (PSG), Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), João Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United FC), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille) and Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto);
Forwards – Bernardo Silva (Manchester City FC), Trincão (FC Barcelona), Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Diogo Jota (Liverpool FC), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus FC), João Félix (Atlético Madrid) and Paulinho (SC Braga).