FOR so a few years Portugal’s hopes have rested squarely on the shoulders of famous person Cristiano Ronaldo.
And the European champions of 2016 will once more look to the Juventus striker for inspiration as they attempt to make dwelling benefit rely and raise the Nations League.
But forward of Wednesday’s semi-final in opposition to Switzerland, there’s a new technology coming by means of who could lead on their nation to even larger heights in the event that they fulfil their potential.
Bernardo Silva is considered one of them — and he wants no introduction to Premier League soccer followers.
Regardless of being in a staff packed stuffed with expertise, he was one of many shining mild of Manchester Metropolis’s glittering home Treble.
His dazzling shows acquired some recognition as he was deservedly named on the short-list for the PFA participant of the 12 months — and within the staff of the 12 months.
Metropolis boss Pep Guardiola recommended earlier within the season he’s already the primary man for Portugal, forward of you understand who.
And whereas this summer time is simply simply starting, the gossip pages have been stuffed with tales linking two of his younger worldwide team-mates with strikes to those shores.
Silva predicts that Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes are names we’re going to be listening to much more of within the coming years.
Metropolis, Manchester United and Liverpool are simply among the golf equipment who’ve been linked with the duo — who for now are getting rave evaluations of their homeland.
PORTUGAL HAVE THE JOAO FACTOR IN FELIX AND FERNANDES
Silva mentioned: “They’re gamers who’ve proven they’ve lots of high quality. They may perhaps now go to leagues with extra aggressive golf equipment, with out being vital of the Portuguese league.
“Felix is a child who’s simply 19. He’s very younger, he has an enormous margin for development. He has proven if he works exhausting and makes the appropriate decisions, he might have a superb profession.
“He might play for one of the best golf equipment on the planet and may be a part of a gaggle that few gamers can attain.
“Bruno is a bit older, a man who’s 24 and has unbelievable numbers of objectives. He can play in additional aggressive leagues and revel in a terrific profession.
“Have Metropolis requested me about them? I received’t reply that.”
They might effectively have executed — however the fact is neither are more likely to be lining up alongside Silva on the Etihad subsequent season at the least.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder Fernandes and his agent clearly fancy being a part of Guardiola’s tremendous squad — however sadly for him the curiosity doesn’t work each methods simply but.
Benfica’s younger strike starlet Felix has been mentioned by the Metropolis hierarchy, but his £106million launch clause makes a transfer unlikely.
Some say that might change if Leroy Sane strikes to Bayern Munich, though Metropolis see Felix as extra of a central striker.
It’s not unimaginable he could possibly be the long-term successor to Sergio Aguero at some point.
In the meantime in his homeland he’s already being touted as the person who will at some point do the unimaginable and step into Ronaldo’s boots.
That’s regardless of the very fact he has but to make his worldwide debut.
After his first coaching session with former Actual Madrid and Manchester United ace Ronaldo, Felix mentioned: “He seemed like a online game character, it was very unusual. I had by no means seen him up shut, once I received dwelling I informed my buddies it was like ‘profession mode’ on the PlayStation.”
Whereas they will not be certain for Metropolis for now, if Fernandes and Felix can shine within the subsequent few days then their inventory is simply more likely to rise.
The Portugal squad already has a robust Premier League flavour, which is especially because of Wolves.
Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota all had spectacular seasons at Molineux — and will probably be now be in search of a becoming finish to their campaigns.
In the meantime any staff with Ronaldo in it’s all the time more likely to be a menace — and he needs to be recent having not been concerned within the Champions League ultimate this 12 months.
He didn’t characteristic in his nation’s Nations League qualifying marketing campaign — returning for the Euro 2020 ties in March.
However he tends to return alive on the large stage and, even at 34, don’t anticipate it to be another method this time.
Since scoring in his first main event for his nation, method again at Euro 2004, he has since discovered the online on the following EIGHT.
Portugal supervisor Fernando Santos has created a stable staff — they haven’t been overwhelmed since their exit from the 2018 World Cup in opposition to Uruguay.
Three attracts of their final three matches on dwelling soil suggests they’re removed from excellent.
But this nation tends to relish knock-out soccer and must profit from dwelling benefit.
They are going to be scorching favourites to beat Switzerland in entrance of their very own followers tonight in Porto — and neither England nor Holland will fancy assembly them within the ultimate on Sunday.
Nearly three years since their superb Euro 2016 triumph within the Stade de France, Portugal — and Ronaldo — are eyeing extra silverware.