It was anything but easy and they were made to sweat almost to the very end, but Portugal eventually booked their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. A Selecção das Quinas edged out Sweden in their UEFA Zone play-off thanks largely to the inspirational Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted all four of his side’s goals in their two ties with the Scandinavians and achieved another remarkable personal record in the process.
However, Portugal’s achievements go way beyond their star striker’s heroics in the play-off. This latest success merely confirmed the team’s upward trajectory over the last couple of decades, when the ‘only’ thing missing has been a major international title.
The morning after the country celebrated securing their latest World Cup appearance, FIFA.com takes a look back at how they got there to bring you Portugal’s qualification in numbers.
6 The number of World Cups Portugal will have appeared in come Brazil 2014. The country took their bow in the competition at England 1966, when Eusebio and Co secured a wonderful third-place finish, still the country’s best performance at the event. Twenty years would pass before the Lusitanians next graced the world stage, at Mexico 1986, with their third participation then coming at Korea/Japan 2002. Since then, however, Portugal have been ever-present at the World Cup, finishing an impressive fourth at Germany 2006, before going out in the Round of 16 to eventual champions Spain four years later in South Africa. Now, though, everyone’s thoughts are turning to Brazil 2014.
2 The number of World Cup play-offs the country has now successfully negotiated, after first experiencing them on the road to South Africa 2010. Ahead of that first World Cup on African soil, it was Bosnia and Herzegovina who lost out to the Iberians, while this time it was Sweden’s turn to suffer.
8 The number of goals Cristiano Ronaldo scored en route to Brazil 2014. The superstar may not have had the best of qualifying campaigns by his standards, but he came good when his side needed him most. Moreover, he finished as Portugal’s top-scorer during the campaign, surpassing Helder Postiga (six goals) and Bruno Alves (four). If that were not impressive enough, he marked another first with the national team by scoring his maiden hat-trick, against Northern Ireland, a feat he then repeated against Sweden in the second leg of the play-offs.
47 The number of goals Ronaldo has now racked up for Portugal. With his hat-trick against Sweden, the Real Madrid ace drew level with Pedro Pauleta as his country’s all-time leading scorer and looks odds on to smash a host of other Portuguese records before long. Still just 28, but with 109 appearances under his belt, CR7 is already his country’s third-most capped player, after Luis Figo (127) and Fernando Couto (110).
1080 The number of minutes the team played on the road to Brazil. Only two players were ever-present in Paulo Bento’s side during the 10 Group F ties and two play-off games: goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Joao Moutinho.
29 The number of different players used during the qualification campaign. While Patricio and Moutinho were the most-used, William Carvalho was the least-utilised, having enjoyed just 17 minutes of playing time in the second game against Sweden. That said, the Sporting CP midfielder, who is just 21 and made the transition directly from the U-20s into the senior side, has had an impressive start to the season and looks to be a great prospect for the national team.
21 The number of cards received by the team in their 12 games. Twenty were yellow, with just one straight red – that shown to Helder Postiga during their away fixture in Northern Ireland.