Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Predicting Portugal’s Starting XI

2014 World Cup: Predicting the Portugal Squad's Starting XI

Real Madrid and Portugal attacker Cristiano Ronaldo
Getty Images

Portugal manager Paulo Bento announced a provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup this week. Bento still has some decisions to make before he cuts that list down the the final 23-man roster, and he also has some interesting decisions to make when it comes to his starting lineup. Cristiano Ronaldo is a certain starter, as he would be in any team, but who will join him in the Portugal starting XI?

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio

Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio
Getty Images

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio

Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio
Getty Images

Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio looks as though he will start in goal for the Portuguese. Sevilla stopper, Beto, has had a good season in La Liga and will have put some slight pressure on the final decision. After starting in every game of the World Cup qualifiers, though, Patricio is the expected No. 1.

Right-Back: Joao Pereira

Valencia and Portugal right-back Joao Pereira
Getty Images

Right-Back: Joao Pereira

Valencia and Portugal right-back Joao Pereira
Getty Images

Joao Pereira will be the Portugal right-back. The speedy Valencia defender has been a mainstay of the team since Bento took the reigns, and that looks like it will continue in Brazil.

Center-Back: Pepe

Real Madrid and Portugal center-back Pepe
Getty Images

Center-Back: Pepe

Real Madrid and Portugal center-back Pepe
Getty Images

Pepe has enjoyed an impressive season at the heart of the Real Madrid defense, deputizing for the injured Raphael Varane. More than just a backup, though, Pepe has been a reliable figure in Madrid's assault on both La Liga and the Champions League.

Center-Back: Bruno Alves

Portugal defender Bruno Alves
Getty Images

Center-Back: Bruno Alves

Portugal defender Bruno Alves
Getty Images

Bruno Alves has been a dependable part of the Portugal defense for a number of years now, forging a partnership and an understanding with defensive partner Pepe. At the age of 32 and having so far made 70 appearances for his country, it will almost certainly be the final World Cup that Alves will compete in.

Left-Back: Fabio Coentrao

Portugal left-back Fabio Coentrao
Getty Images

Left-Back: Fabio Coentrao

Portugal left-back Fabio Coentrao
Getty Images

Fabio Coentrao will take the left-back spot. Coentrao is an attacking and adventurous player, but he's one whose defensive ability has been questioned in the past. Although the Real Madrid man has improved on that in the last couple of years, he'll be looking exhibit both sides of his game in Brazil.

Defensive Midfield: Miguel Veloso

Portugal defensive midfielder Miguel Veloso
Getty Images

Defensive Midfield: Miguel Veloso

Portugal defensive midfielder Miguel Veloso
Getty Images

Defensive midfield is one of the positions that may still be up for grabs. Miguel Veloso has occupied the position for a few years now, but the young, and rapidly rising, Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho is now putting pressure on that. Veloso is the better player technically at this point, with a better first touch and passing range, but Carvalho brings a physicality, presence and defensive awareness that Veloso cannot match.

Central Midfield: Raul Meireles

Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles
Getty Images

Central Midfield: Raul Meireles

Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles
Getty Images

Raul Meireles is a versatile player who can assist the team both defensively and offensively from the midfield. An all-round player who can play the final pass, as much as intercept the opposition's, the Fenerbahce midfielder will make an impression -- whether that's with his play or with his wacky beards and haircuts.

Central Midfield: Joao Moutinho

AS Monaco and Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho
Getty Images

Central Midfield: Joao Moutinho

AS Monaco and Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho
Getty Images

Joao Moutinho is the architect in the Portugal midfield. Moutinho has great awareness, vision, technique and a passing range which accentuates all of those attributes to the fullest. Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man on the team, of course, but the ball usually goes through Moutinho before the forwards get to do their damage.

Left Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo
Getty Images

Left Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo
Getty Images

The talisman and captain of the team, Cristiano Ronaldo will be attempting to lead his side to glory in Brazil. Ronaldo is devastating when he's at his best, and he is capable of tearing apart any team in the tournament. Portugal will need Ronaldo in that kind of form to have any chance of lifting the trophy.

Right Wing: Nani

Manchester United and Portugal winger Nani
Getty Images

Right Wing: Nani

Manchester United and Portugal winger Nani
Getty Images

Manchester United winger Nani has been the occupant of the Portugal right wing for years now. But his lack of game time at United this season, as well as his poor showings when he has played, must be a cause for concern for Bento. The fact that there are not too many players knocking on the door to start instead, means Nani might just retain his position -- for now at least.

Striker: Helder Postiga

Portugal striker Helder Postiga
Getty Images

Striker: Helder Postiga

Portugal striker Helder Postiga
Getty Images

The striker position has been a problem position for the Portuguese for many years now. The problem is offset slightly by the goal scoring exploits of Ronaldo, but still, it stands out as a weak link in the team. Helder Postiga will probably take up the position again, although he has never truly grabbed the spot with both hands. Braga striker Eder and Besiktas veteran stiker Hugo Almeida will also be hoping for a chance at the position.