The Portugal lineup that should start against Hungary at Euro 2020

Only once in the 60-year history of the European Championship has the trophy been successfully defended.

But you’d be hard pushed to bet against it happening this year.

Portugal won the trophy for the first time ever in France five years ago and only seem to have gotten stronger since, with the emergence of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota substantially easing the load on Cristiano Ronaldo at the top end of the pitch.

The strength of their squad means that despite their nightmarish group, they are confident of qualifying from Group F and going on another run deep into the tournament – but with France and Germany lying in wait, getting things started with a win over Hungary is essential.

Here is the team Fernando Santos should pick as he looks to do just that.

Rui PatricioRui Patricio

Rui Patricio still has the gloves / David Ramos/Getty Images

Rui Patricio (GK) – The Wolves keeper has 93 caps to his name and could hit 100 this summer if Portugal go all the way.

Nelson Semedo (RB) – Joao Cancelo looked a shoo-in until his positive Covid test shook things up. Diogo Dalot came into the squad to replace him but it’s likely to be Semedo who plays from the start.

Ruben Dias (CB) – We all knew Dias was good long before he signed for Man City, but his form in the Premier League makes him utterly undroppable from a Portugal perspective. Maybe the best defender on the planet at present.

Pepe (CB) – Centre back is an area of weakness of Portugal and one that will be a real worry once Pepe hangs up his boots. Even at 38, though, he’s still going strong.

Raphael Guerreiro (LB) – Nuno Mendes is making all the headlines but the youngster has some work to do before he ousts the dependable Guerreiro for a regular starting spot.

Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Joao CanceloBruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Joao Cancelo

Bruno Fernandes celebrates his goal against Israel / Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Danilo Pereira (CM) – It’s a very, very attacking Portugal lineup, so the defensive balance provided by Pereira is vital.

William Carvalho (CM) – See above. Ruben Neves may feel he’s earned a starting spot but Carvalho’s natural defensive instincts should see him in.

Bruno Fernandes (CM) – No points for guessing who will be the most attack-minded of the midfield three. Portugal’s shape will become a 4-2-3-1 on the ball and Fernandes will be central – literally and figuratively – to that.

Portugal v Israel - International FriendlyPortugal v Israel - International Friendly

The man himself / Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Bernardo Silva (RW) – The Man City man will provide some subtlety and nuance to the forward line, though he may be sacrificed for Joao Felix if Portugal find themselves chasing the game.

Cristiano Ronaldo (CF) – Yeah.

Diogo Jota (LW) – He’ll have competition for his spot but Santos seems to trust Jota and it’s easy to see why. He’s a willing runner whose explosive pace counter-balances Bernardo on the opposite flank.