Portugal Euro 2024 Preview | Tactical Analysis & Pick

Portugal Euro 2024 Preview | Tactical Analysis & Pick article feature image

BJ Cunningham/Action Network. Pictured: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal come into the Euros looking to win their second title after capturing it in 2016.

There have been big changes for Portugal after losing in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Former Belgium manager Roberto Martinez is now in charge and Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man up top again. They had one of the most impressive qualifying campaigns of anyone in history, winning all 10 matches and outscoring their opponents 38 to 2.

To be fair, they were in one of the easiest qualifying groups and didn't play the level of competition they are going to see at the Euros. Yet, they have all the talent in the world, so the Portuguese are definitely poised for a deep run.

Here is my Portugal Euro 2024 preview.

Tactical Analysis

Martinez is now at the helm and his tactics for Portugal when they have the ball are a bit interesting and are constantly changing. There are times when the space between the center backs and midfielders in build up is really far because he wants to stretch the opposing defensive block to create space for his attackers. They like to use the concept of vacated space as well. Most teams in at the international level man mark, so Portugal will interchange who drops deep to receive the ball and then try to make a pass to exploit the space left by the defender who is coming to receive the ball.

They typically go with a 3-2 build up shape, but there are times when they have gone with an incredibly narrow build up to try and not only play through the middle, but also isolate the wingers into 1 v 1 situations.

When they are in the final third the main goal is to get the ball to Ronaldo. He averaged 5.7 shots per 90 minutes during qualifying, which was half a shot per 90 more than the next closest guy (Mbappe). They cross the ball a lot from the half space to runners in the box, which plays to Ronaldo’s strength, which is ultimately what Roberto Martinez is trying to accomplish.

The out of possession tactics under Roberto Martinez are a little untested, for lack of a better term.

By the numbers, Portugal were the best team in qualifying defensively, allowing only 0.42 xG per 90 minutes. However, Portugal had the benefit of being in either an even or positive game state for the entirety of qualifying. So, Portugal would typically sit in a 4-4-2 mid block and when they played Slovakia, they didn’t really press them high a ton. They have really good ball winners in the middle of the pitch, but they also have a lot of players who do not do a lot of defensive work, like Ronaldo.

They can get away with it playing against the teams that they played against in their group, but what happens when they fall behind is a different question. The few times they did, it wasn’t very effective.

Closing down the ball is another aspect that really needs improvement for Portugal. In their friendly against Slovenia, they played the ball right through them on countless occasions with one touch passing. So, when they play better teams who can hurt you if you don’t pressure the ball, it’s likely they are going to give up some high quality chances.


data via WyScout

Final Verdict

Portugal are one of the most difficult teams to handicap at this tournament. They had the most impressive numbers during qualifying and even if it was in an easy group, you can only play who is in front of you, so you have to give them credit.

However, there are concerns with this team when they face good competition. They haven't faced a team that is truly going to apply ball pressure the way that the Czech Republic and Turkey are going to, so we will see if Roberto Martinez constantly tinkering with his tactics (which has never worked) will bring them any type of success.

I think the market is about right on this Portugal team in terms of futures and I would rather bet against them on a match by match basis.

Final Verdict: Pass

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