By user Bobo

Portugal are probably currently one of the strongest teams in the world. That's despite having a goalkeeper called Quim, and having two of their players already incapacitated by injury. This shouldn't hurt them, however.

Portugal were one of the shocks of 2002's World Cup tournament, having been eliminated in the first round at the expense of South Korea and the United States.

So, more on their players. Young players like Ricardo Carvalho, Paula Ferreira and Cristiano Ronaldo make their work in England, and are complete stars in doing so. Their injured players, defenders Jorge Andrade (suffering from a torn patellar tendon) and Nuno Valente (thigh strain) are going to be sorely missed, though I don't see that having an adverse effect on the performance of the team.

Their draw is an intriguing one. A win against cohabitants Mexico is likely to see them top the group, but a loss against either of the minnows (Iran or Angola) is likely to prove problematic, even though it looks certain that a win against Mexico will be enough to send them through as winners of the group. It's very much a two-team race, that one, from the outside.

Portugal still have at the helm of their play, captain Luís Figo, Sporting Clube's stalwart winger, and an out and out wonderful player not just in the art of scoring, but in the forgotten skill of assistance. As of April 2006, FIFA rank Portugal at joint-eighth with Argentina, and for a team which has yet to perform to their true potential in the World Cup, but has had rather more success in their home continent, is somewhat fair.

But their result against Mexico in the prelims is bound to be the clincher in a group for which you can be pretty sure of the qualifiers. It would be good to see, however, if this World Cup is anywhere near as unpredictable as the previous, some enthusiastic competition from the underdogs. They have nothing to lose.

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