After hitting 36 goals in qualifying, many are tipping Portugal to do well at Euro 2024. We take a look at just how potent their attack might be in Germany this summer.

Goals win games.

Of all the 24 teams who will be competing at Euro 2024 this summer, Portugal head into the tournament with the best record when it comes to finding the net.

Roberto Martínez’s side comfortably scored the most goals in qualifying (36 – at least seven more than any other team), including 9-0 and 6-0 wins over Luxembourg, and a 5-0 victory away at Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also scored nine goals across three friendlies over the past week, completing their Euro 2024 preparation with a 3-0 win over Ireland on Tuesday.

Most goals Euro 2024 qualifying

Portugal were the only team to win 100% of their games in qualifying (10/10), but it wasn’t just because of their firepower. They also conceded just twice in 10 games, giving them the best defensive record in qualifying too.

When you couple that with the attacking talent Martínez has at his disposal, it’s not hard to see why Portugal should be feared by the other 23 teams in Germany.

As well as the legendary figure of Cristiano Ronaldo still leading the line, they have some of the most exciting and explosive forwards in European football today.

Rafael Leão, Bernardo Silva, João Félix, Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota and Gonçalo Ramos would be likely to feature in most if not all other nations’ squads if they were eligible, while in young Francisco Conceição, they have an added x-factor.

We have already taken a detailed look at Ronaldo and what the 39-year-old can still bring to proceedings, but here, we take a closer look at Portugal’s forwards to see just how scary a proposition facing them could be at Euro 2024.

Rafael Leão

The mercurial Milan winger isn’t coming off his best season, but Leão’s potential danger is there for all to see.

Once the 24-year-old gets up to full speed there is little stopping him and his creativity. Only Matías Soulé (65) and Matteo Politano (57) created as many as his 56 chances from open play in Serie A this season.

Rafael Leao chances created

Leão recorded 18 goal involvements (9 goals, 9 assists) in his 34 league appearances in 2023-24, but he created 18 big chances (defined as a chance that would be expected to be scored), which was four more than any other Serie A player, suggesting he could have had even more assists. He managed 15 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.

It feels like Leão is on the cusp of going to the next level where he is talked about as one of the premier talents in Europe, and with such a talented attack around him in the national team, Euro 2024 could be the tournament where he starts to make that leap.

Bernardo Silva

Someone who doesn’t need to make that leap is Bernardo Silva, who is coming off yet another tremendous season with Manchester City.

Silva’s teammate and the Premier League player of the season Phil Foden created 2.01 chances from open play per 90 in the league last season, just shy of Silva’s 2.02. In fact, only 11 players in England’s top flight registered more chances from open play created than his 58, even though he played just 33 games.

The 29-year-old scored 12 goals in all competitions for City in 2023-24, with a respectable 18.5% shot conversion rate. He also provided 10 assists, nine of which came in the Premier League.

Man City attacking sequence involvement

Couple all that with his work rate – only Foden, Rodri and Julián Álvarez won possession in the final third more often than Silva for City this season – and you have yet another impressive component in Martínez’s potential attack.

João Félix

Like Leão, it feels like there’s more to come from João Félix, but Martínez seems to have faith in him. The 24-year-old played in eight of Portugal’s 10 qualifiers, starting six.

He scored three goals, with only Ronaldo (46) and Bruno Fernandes (22) attempting more than his 19 shots across the campaign for the Seleção.

At the 2022 World Cup, he became the third-youngest player to score for Portugal at a World Cup (23 years, 13 days), so stepping up on the national stage hasn’t been much of a problem.

Domestically, João Félix had a good if unspectacular first season at Barcelona, recording 10 goals and six assists in all competitions, with seven of his goals coming in La Liga; only Robert Lewandowski (19) and Fermín López (8) scored more for Barcelona.

Whether starting or coming from the bench, he can provide a spark that very few else can so it will be interesting to see how his manager uses him.

Pedro Neto

Rarely has it ever been more likely that a player will have the words “when fit” close to every mention of his name.

Pedro Neto has been outstanding for Wolves in recent years… when fit. Unfortunately for him, and Wolves, that hasn’t been as often as hoped. Knee, ankle, and hamstring issues have seen Neto play just 56 games at club level since April 2021, with only 37 of those being starts.

The 2023-24 season began brilliantly for him, though, as he racked up seven assists in 10 games before a hamstring injury sidelined him until Christmas.

Pedro Neto assists Aug to Oct 2023

A stop-start rest of the campaign saw Neto end with 10 Premier League assists in 20 appearances, with only Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins (13) and Chelsea’s Cole Palmer (11) registering more, though they did so from 37 and 34 games respectively. Of players who played at least 1,000 minutes in the Premier League, only Kevin De Bruyne (0.73) averaged more assists per 90 than Neto’s 0.53.

He only had two sub appearances for Portugal in qualifying, but off the bench you could see Neto being a huge asset to take advantage of tiring full-backs and providing counter-attacking threat… when fit.

Diogo Jota

Speaking of players lacking fitness, Diogo Jota is another who has seen more of the medical room than he’d have liked this season. He missed a month before the turn of the year with a muscle issue, before a freak accident in Liverpool’s 4-1 win at Brentford in mid-February after Christian Norgaard landed on Jota’s knee limited him to just two further appearances before the end of the campaign.

Jota is fit again at the right time, though, playing in recent friendlies against Finland and Croatia, and he scored in each of them.

Despite his injury problems, Jota still managed 15 goals in his 32 games for Liverpool this season (19 starts), with an impressive shot conversion rate of 23.1%. He outperformed his expected goals (xG) of 8.8 by more than six goals.

Diogo Jota xG all comps 23-24

Only eight players in Europe’s top five leagues who played at least 20 times in all competitions in 2023-24 could better his rate of a goal every 114 minutes.

Jota’s versatility could also come in handy, being able to play either as a central striker or on the left of the attack.

Gonçalo Ramos

For those who haven’t watched Portugal since the 2022 World Cup, it might surprise you to know that Martínez hasn’t built his attack around Gonçalo Ramos yet.

An up-and-down group stage saw Portugal get through to the last 16 in Qatar, where Fernando Santos decided to go with Ramos instead of Ronaldo, leading to a 6-1 victory for the Seleção against Switzerland, with Ramos bagging a hat-trick.

It was a superb attacking display that led to questions about whether Ronaldo had been helping or hindering the forward line.

Portugal v Switzerland xG race

Of course, the 1-0 loss to Morocco in the quarter-finals where the Ramos experiment continued as well as Ronaldo’s performances in Euros qualifying suggest it’s still the former, but Ramos is still seen as the veteran’s long-term successor up top. His big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain from Benfica last summer produced 14 goals from 40 appearances in all competitions, though just 21 were starts.

With that Switzerland game still relatively fresh in the memory, Ramos’ presence should have a calming effect as an option from the bench, or an effective alternative should anything happen to Ronaldo.

Francisco Conceição

As a wildcard option, Francisco Conceição is another interesting selection. The son of former Portugal international Sérgio, Conceição has had a productive season playing for his dad at Porto.

The 21-year-old might not yet have the output of an elite forward, but his pace and dribbling ability, like with Neto, could provide a dangerous option from the bench.

Conceição managed five goals and four assists in the Primeira Liga in 2023-24, but also attempted 138 dribbles, created 43 chances for teammates, including 11 big chances, and attempted 155 crosses. Only three players attempted more dribbles in the Portuguese top flight, and only six attempted more crosses, despite the fact Conceição only made 27 appearances, of which 21 were starts.

F Conceicao progressive carries

He is likely to be a long-term project for the senior national side, but in the meantime, Conceição can still be an effective weapon to create chances in games where a stubborn defence needs opening up.

Bruno Fernandes

Not strictly part of the forward line, but Bruno Fernandes has to be mentioned just for the outstanding creative numbers he continues to put up.

Manchester United may have had a rocky season, especially in the Premier League, but Fernandes stood head and shoulders above the rest in chances created, recording 114 in all, which was at least 11 more than any other player in the league.

Fernandes was also the only player to feature in all 10 of Portugal’s qualifiers for Euro 2024, where he scored six goals – only Ronaldo (10) scored more for the national team – and managed seven assists, at least two more than any other player in the whole of Euro 2024 qualifying.

Across all of qualifying, he also created the most chances (37) and the most big chances (11) of any player, albeit having played 10 games when a lot of others only played eight or fewer.

Bruno Fernandes chance created Euro 2024 qualifiers

With all that creativity and firepower, as well as a recent history of scoring plenty of goals in competitive games, it’s easy to see why so many are looking at Portugal to do as they did in 2016 and go all the way.

As it may also be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final tournament, it is a great opportunity for the next generation to show they can fire Portugal into a prosperous post-CR7 future.

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