THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

wsc328 previewWhat are the expectations for the team?
They have the experience that comes from being ever-present (since 2000) in the two major competitions. But once again they only qualified for this tournament through the play-offs and there is a clear dependency on Cristiano Ronaldo. Readers of sports daily Record have nicknamed the squad "Os Conquistadores". That's wishful thinking, but anything less than qualification from a tricky group would be seen as a disaster.

Is the coach popular?
Paulo Bento replaced the generally unpopular Carlos Queiroz in 2010 and has been well received. His tactical conservatism means that Sporting midfielder William Carvalho, this season's top revelation at club level, is unlikely to make the starting line-up though he does look set to at least win a place in the squad.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
Bento stands on a cliff-top in a rousing ad for official sponsors Sagres beer: "Believe, until the last second! We are Portugal!" goes the voiceover. Otherwsie, Ronaldo has virtually cornered the market: Herbalife nutrition ("Hello Herbalife. I'm Cristiano Ronaldo. I'm excited to be part of your team!"), Emirates Airline (with Pelé), Samsung Galaxy (with Lionel Messi) and Bimbo bread (taking over from Messi), to name but a few. Around half of his £27 million-plus annual earnings reportedly come from endorsements.

Is there a World Cup song?
One came out at the beginning of April, outraging many who thought it was official: Dance Of The Champions with Miguel Veloso lending his ball-skills for the video. At one point, singer Luciana, ex-wife of former Sporting and Benfica forward Yannick Djaló, urgently intones: "Lover, I wanna see a game, too – I wanna see a goal scored." It's a high point in the song.

Which players are good interviewees and who are 
the worst?
Ronaldo has matured and as captain can now normally be counted on to dish up sensible, if rather uninspiring, interviews. Raul Meireles's striking look can distract from what he's actually saying. There is something perversely fascinating about interviews with Bento, who suffers from a slight speech disorder, whereby he frequently repeats words and phrases.
 
Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Meireles is well into fashion and in time-honoured footballing tradition has a boutique. In 2013 he was listed among the top ten best-dressed footballers in the world by Vanity Fair – along with Ronaldo, naturally.
 
Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
Ronaldo will be doing his feet-planted "Estou aqui" (I'm here) routine. His "baby sparrow attempting flight" dance, seen in a Real Madrid training session in March, is unlikely to appear.
 
What will the media coverage be like?
State TV channel RTP owns the rights to all the games. It's sold some of them to cable channel Sport TV, for which former Benfica full-back Pedro Henriques provides good-humoured and knowledgeable insight. José Mourinho will be providing co-commentary and analysis online for Yahoo.

Will there be many fans travelling to the finals?
Because of the expense and the threadbare state of Portuguese pockets, we can expect only middle-class-and-up fans to travel, but there will be enough of them, together with emigrants and local sympathisers, to provide good support. The simple, traditional chant of "por-too-GAL, por-too-GAL" will, as always, be the most heard. Phil Town

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