So far, so good in Euro 2012 for Portugal as they are now headed to a semi-final matchup against either France or Spain. With each win and each Cristiano Ronaldo goal, people are asking themselves a simple question-how far can they go?
In the Euros thus far Portugal have lost to Germany 1-0, beaten Denmark 3-2, beaten the Dutch 2-1, and most recently, defeated the Czech Republic 1-0. While the results have been very positive, weaknesses are visible. The number one concern for Portugal is in their midfield, with players who are good but not great. Their two best central players (Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles) prefer attacking over defending and can't really control a game. This lack of any game-controlling midfielders will pose a problem against the likes of Xavi, Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Another issue is their susceptibility to quick and creative attacking players that are able to terrorize immobile Bruno Alves and fairly slow Pepe. Even in today's game against the Czech Republic, there were a few times when quick build ups exposed holes in the Portugal back line.
The best way for Portugal to hide their weaknesses in the midfield and back line is to play to their strengths by getting the ball quickly up the pitch to either Ronaldo or Nani when they get possession, and let those two playmakers set up goals. I also like the idea of having their wing backs overlap and cross the ball in early before the defense settles, something Portugal did well against the Czechs.
How far the Portuguese go is ultimately up to how well they play as a team. If their great individuals play as great teammates, they can win any game by sheer offensive firepower. This type of strategy was in full effect against Denmark when their weaknesses were glossed over by three goals.
Best case scenario, Portugal is defeated in a close final against Germany. Worst case scenario, lets just say next Wednesday could get ugly.