What are the expectations for the team?
The poor qualifying phase, which Portugal scraped through via the play-offs, opened eyes to the limitations of this generation of players. There may be some “Bring that Cup home!” exhortations from the press and Carlos Queiroz said: “I left Manchester United with the dream of being world champion.” But the punters know in their heart of hearts that it’s merely a pipe dream. Quarter-finals, tops.
Is the coach popular?
Queiroz is at a disadvantage in that he succeeded Luiz Felipe Scolari, a true mobiliser of the masses, however limited he was as a coach. In stark contrast, Queiroz’s softly-softly approach has few fans.
Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Cristiano Ronaldo has boutiques in Madeira and Lisbon, run by his sisters. Midfielder Raul Meireles is well on his way to collecting a full set of tattoos – both arms are now covered in what appears to be little more than a smudgy blueness.
Which player is the best interviewee and who is the worst?
Deco can come out with interesting things like: “I love Portugal for everything it’s given me, but I’m not Portuguese. I’m Brazilian.” (To the Brazilian TV channel Globo.) Simão always looks like he’s just been told a smutty joke and will burst out giggling at any moment. Bruno Alves glowers and mutters a lot.
Is the team likely to have any unusual goal celebrations?
Liedson alternates between forming a heart with his hands to camera and baby-rocking with the arms. Some players, especially those from Porto, like to give the goalscorer a couple of good sharp clouts to the head.
Have the team recorded a song for the World Cup?
No, but Queiroz has chosen the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling as the selecção’s theme tune for the tournament. The band, who have sworn exclusive support to the team, will play a send-off concert at the National Stadium in Lisbon on May 30.
What will the media coverage be like?
João Pinto, he of the referee-punching incident in 2002, is a studio pundit for RTP and is often capable of bringing interesting insight to the discussion. Carlos Manuel, an international midfielder in the 1980s and currently a third-level coach, is a co-commentator on cable channel SportTV. His default tone is a drone and he likes to refer to players by their first names with a cringe-inducing over-familiarity. State channel RTP assigned the rights to the games to SportTV, in exchange for a bite of SportTV’s rights to Portuguese league games over the last two seasons. SportTV will show all 64 games. RTP will cover 32, including all Portugal’s games.
Will there be many fans travelling to South Africa?
Most support will come from the sizeable population of people of Portuguese descent living in South Africa (officially 200,000, unofficially many more). The stock Por-too-GAL! Por-too-GAL! chant will be the most heard, but there is bound to be the odd smattering of Benfica’s SLB, SLB, SLBSLBSLB, Glorioso, SLB, Glorioso, SLB after their best season for many years. This despite the fact that the Portuguese champions have only one representative in the national squad. Phil Town