Time for reconciliation as Portugal’s national team were trying to recover after the damage that had been inflicted on them with the infamous scandal, caused by an internal turmoil, that broke out during the 1986 World Cup. Their chances in the last Euro qualifiers were consequently more or less spoiled, but in 1988 there was renewed optimism before the start of the 1990 qualification in Group 7, as manager Juca again had a full-strength squad to choose from. Did this mean that Portugal were back to the level of the team from the mid-80s? Read more…

World Cup appearances: 1966, 1986

Manager: Juca


Qualifier 1

 Fernando Gomes (31′)



Against a plucky Luxembourg, Portugal made hard work of it, and the only goal came from captain Gomes after half an hour. Rising star Vítor Paneira proved his worth in midfield, whereas the rather inexperienced defence was never truly tested.

Line-up (4-2-4): Silvino – Jaime Alves, Sobrinho, Morato, Álvaro – Nunes, Rui Barros – Vítor Paneira, F Gomes (c), Jordão (Jaime Magalhães h-t), Futre.


Borbokis (63′)


Adelino Nunes (6′)
Vítor Paneira(65′)

A first international goal for midfielders Nunes and Paneira, the latter which won the game 25 minutes from time. Jordão carried the captain’s armband in what turned out to be his final cap, whereas left-sided midfielder José Semedo made his international debut. Portugal were much the better side, and they failed to take more than two of the many chances which they created. Both Rui Barros and Semedo were culprits for misses one on one with Oikonomopoulos, and Barros even side-footed over the bar with an open goal to aim at from four yards out.

Line-up (4-4-2): Silvino – João Pinto, Oliveira, Sobrinho, Veloso – Vítor Paneira (Adão 81), Nunes, A Sousa, Semedo – Rui Barros, Jordão (c) (Jorge Plácido 60)

Qualifier 2

Vítor Paneira (53′)


Van Der Linden (84′)

This was a more convincing performance by the Portuguese, in which Juca lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, finding the proper balance between work rate and flair. Vítor Paneira enjoyed a brilliant game down the right hand side, assisted by João Pinto, but Portugal did lack presence in the box to find the goals. They were looking fairly deserved winners until Silvino made a howler to give Belgium the equalizer.

Line-up (4-3-3): Silvino – João Pinto (c), Oliveira, Sobrinho, Veloso – Nunes, A Sousa, Semedo – Vítor Paneira (César Brito 86), Rui Barros, Futre (Pacheco 61)


Oliveira (20′)
Frederico (39′, 87′)
André (54′)
Nunes (56′)
Semedo (60′)



This was the 75th anniversary of the Portuguese FA, and they marked it with a match against a former colony of the country. They ran out easy winners, and saw three goals from central defenders as well as three goals from midfield. Juca had tried out three strikers in César Brito, Rui Águas and Domingos, who had a total of nine caps between them.

Line-up: Silvino – João Pinto (c) (Jaime Alves 73), Frederico, Oliveira, Fonseca – Nunes, Rui Barros (César Brito h-t), Semedo – Vítor Paneira (André h-t), Rui Águas, Pacheco (Domingos 76).

Qualifier 3

João Pinto (49′)
Rosa (56′)
Vítor Paneira (69′)


Zuffi (64′)

The game had a poor first half, but Portugal sprung to life with three goals after the break. The home side were short in average appearance numbers, but still had an average age of more than 28 years. Two goals from defenders (João Pinto and Rosa) as well as one from a midfielder (Paneira).

Line-up (4-4-2): Silvino – João Pinto (c), Frederico (Oliveira 88), Sobrinho, Veloso – Vítor Paneira, Nunes, Sousa (Jorge Silva h-t), André – César Brito, Barros


Bebeto (27′)
Sobrinho (32′ o.g.)
Ricardo Gomes (48′)
Charles (75′)



Juca had to make do without some of his better players and it showed as they were over-powered by an opponent physically stronger. Brazil had a great deal of possession in the opening 45 minutes, and could have been more than two up at half time. As the third goal arrived just after the break, it was game over. Juca had been displeased with his three man central midfield during the first half, so much so that he chose to take Adelino off and replace him with Jaime Alves, seeing Vítor Paneira into a more central role. Despite Brazil sitting back in the second half, Portugal were always second best and suffered two further second half strikes to go back home with a heavy defeat.

Portugal (4-5-1): Neno – João Pinto (c), Frederico, Sobrinho, Veloso – Vítor Paneira, Juanico, Nunes (Jaime Alves 43), Semedo (Vado 71), César Brito – Rui Águas.





Portugal held an increasingly goal shy Romania, but they seem to have a bit of a forward problem themselves: The last goal scored by a Portuguese striker had been Fernando Gomes’ goal against Luxembourg. Vítor Paneira appears here to have been a left winger, giving place to Jaime Magalhães on the opposite side.

Portugal: Silvino – João Pinto (c), Miguel, Venâncio, Veloso – Jaime Magalhães (Jorge Ferreira 67), Carlos Xavier, André, Vítor Paneira – Rui Águas, César Brito.

Qualifier 4

Ceulemans (35′)
Van Der Linden (58′, 69′)



Devastating score for Portugal, who were dreadfully exposed at the back. Their defensive line had looked unreliable earlier in the qualification, and Belgium punished them severely here. Before conceding, Juca appeared to have found the right strategy, though, with Futre  breaking forward and on occasions almost coming clean through. The team’s willingness to attack was somewhat surprising, but arguably played to their strengths. As soon as the defence crumbled, it was always going to be difficult.

Line-up (4-3-3): Silvino – João Pinto (c), Sobrinho, Venâncio, Veloso – Vítor Paneira (Rui Águas 61), André, Carlos Xavier – Rui Barros, César Brito, Paulo Futre.

Qualifier 5

Türkyılmaz (29′ pen.)


Futre (72′ pen.)
Rui Águas (76′)

Portugal come from behind to gain both points in a win which had been more or less demanded from them after the set back in Belgium. Juca had set his team up in a 4-4-2, with right-sided midfield virtuoso Vítor Paneira so anonymous down the left flank and Portugal in general so beleaguered that the manager made a substitution before the half-time break in bringing on forward Rui Águas and switching to a 4-3-3. This gradually saw them improve in the second half, and they turned the game around with two goals. Paolo Futre the great inspiration with a goal and an assist.

Goals: Futre, Águas
Portugal (4-4-2): Silvino – João Pinto (c), Venâncio, Frederico, Veloso – Jaime Magalhães (Rui Águas 43), Nunes, André, Vítor Paneira – Rui Barros, Futre.

Qualifier 6

Bílek (11′ pen., 82′)


Rui Águas (74′)

Portugal play more than 70 minutes with a one man advantage, but lose out to two strikes by Michal Bílek. It’s a frustrating evening for Juca’s men, as they hardly find any spaces against a very deep-lying Czechoslovakian side. Changing to a narrow 4-4-2 after Griga’s expulsion didn’t seem ideal. Futre has his moments, while Rui Barros and V. Paneira are too anonymous. New striker Rui Águas shows his worth and scores Portugal’s only goal.

Line-up (5-3-2): Silvino – João Pinto (c), Sobrinho (Vítor Paneira 27), Frederico, Venâncio, Veloso – Nunes (Lima 71), Rui Barros, André – Paulo Futre, Rui Águas.

Qualifier 7



Águas (43′, 51′)
Barros (72′)

Portugal’s fourth successive away match brought them level on points with Czechoslovakia after two strikes from Rui Águas and one from Rui Barros.

Goals: Águas 2, Barros
Portugal: Silvino – João Pinto (c), Frederico, Venâncio, Fonseca (Pedro Xavier 33) – Vítor Paneira, Rui Barros, Nunes (Jaime Magalhães 64), Veloso, Lima – Rui Águas.

Qualifier 8




Portugal gave their all to at least finish with a win. In order to progress to the World Cup finals, they would have to win by a margin of four goals, something which was never realistic. But they gave a committed display and put a very resilient Czechoslovakian side to the test. They should have scored through Brito, who had two big opportunities after the break. Right at the end, the visitors could have snatched victory through substitute Weiss. Portugal out but not down.

Portugal (4-5-1): Silvino – João Pinto (c) (Vítor Paneira h-t), Frederico, Venâncio, Veloso – César Brito (Pedro Xavier 83), Rui Barros, Jorge Ferreira, Sousa, Pacheco – Rui Águas.


Portugal ultimately fail to qualify for Italia’90, losing out a place in the 1990 World Cup with two points. Where did it all go wrong?

Juca’s preparation for the qualification campaign had been a difficult one. With the start of his reign, reconciliation had begun after the disastrous Saltillo affair, but he had been given only one single friendly (v Sweden away) to prepare the team – far too little to assess his team selection or to make a new team blend. It is fair to say that Juca didn’t initially find the team selection he was happy with. Sweden away was also a strange choice since their first qualifier would be against Luxembourg at home: having spent the only friendly in a defensive mode and with Juca still unsure about his best side, the performance only yielded a 1-0 win. A disastrous result, it would turn out, as a poor goal difference made the final match against Czechoslovakia uninteresting. The suboptimal preparation did therefore perhaps contribute to Portgual’s verdict in this group.

From the match against Belgium (h), Juca’s team started to settle, usually consisting of a midfield trio and an attacking trio, resembling a lopsided 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 (one attacking winger plus one balancing wide midfielder), with some exceptions. This was a dynamic team that appeared to be well balanced and at times impressing in its swift attacking. Few teams in these qualifiers have shown themselves better at turnovers than Portugal, and perhaps no player excelling more in these situations than Futre.

While that encounter against Belgium in February 1989 saw the team settle, it also contained en episode that would haunt Portugal to the very end of the campaign. A later howler by Silvino gifted Belgium a point. A win would otherwise have put Portugal in the driver’s seat in the group. The result was followed by a comfortable win against Switzerland, ensuring that Portugal had 5 points from their three home fixtures so far.

Autumn 1989 started with three key battles away from home, where they crucially lost the two against their main rivals in the group, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. Yet, they were in both matches close to getting a result. They were eventually hammered 3-0 in Brussels, but again showed what a formidable threat they could be when breaking forward. In the end, their defence was heavily exposed – there had already been signs that the defence was not the best at organizing itself, and Belgium punished them relentlessly. As last time, a disappointing result against Belgium was followed by a good win against Switzerland, now with striker Rui Águas taking a more prominent role in the team.

More crucial, perhaps, was the defeat in Czechoslovakia, against what now proved to be the battle for the second qualification berth. Portugal played against 10 men for more than an hour, but succumbed to another sweet strike from Michal Bílek. You could even argue that Griga’s dismissal didn’t help Portugal, as a very cautious Czechoslovakia after that incident denied them the space which they needed to release Futre. Rui Águas was impressing in his lone striker role, giving Portugal the presence in the box which they at times had lacked, but as always the team seemed prone to let in goals.

There was a subdued end to their qualification campaign. They won by a three goal margin against Luxembourg (a), but the result between Czechoslovakia and Switzerland meant that Juca’s side would need to beat the former with four goals in the ultimate game. The decider never quite caught fire, ending in stalemate and 0-0.

How much separated Portugal from qualifying for Italia’90? Not too much, although this conclusion will suggest that Czechoslovakia maybe overall showed just a bit more quality than the Lusitanians. Juca possessed a very talented side and arguably found a good shape to the team already from his second game, which was an accomplishment given his difficult point of departure. Some of the attacking football showed by his team belonged to the top notch of European football, and Juca seemed to have found a good balance between work rate and balance, although they at times missed some presence in the box and firing power.

The real weakness of the team was the defensive structure – some good players, but they found it hard to organize themselves, and were punished by the good teams. Portugal only kept a clean sheet against Luxembourg and in the so-called decider against Czechoslovakia. There were certainly also individual mistakes to rue: Silvino’s error versus Belgium in February cost them a point, and Rui Barros missed no less than three glaring opportunities during the qualifiers. What if Rui Águas had been drafted into the team at an earlier stage? Even the very first match, against Luxembourg (h), was costly: the poor goal difference on the final day meant that they needed to beat Czechoslovakia with four goals. What if Juca had had time to prepare his team and soundly had beaten Luxembourg with f.ex. four goals?

Final position: 3 (out of 5)
Total record: 8 4 2 2 11-8 10
Home record: 4 2 2 0 5-2 6
Away record: 4 2 0 2 6-6 4

Player statistics

Number of players used: 29
Number of players including unused substitutes: 35
Ever-presents (720 mins): 2 (Silvino and Barros)
Leading goalscorer: Rui Águas 4
Yellow/red cards: 11/0

– overview

Silvino de Almeida Louro88720
Rui Gil Soares de Barros887201
Vítor Manuel da Costa Araújo “Paneira”8626142
António Augusto da Silva Veloso7716301/0
João Manuel Vieira Pinto7758511/0
Adelino Carlos Morais Nunes664953/0
Pedro Manuel Regateiro Venâncio554501/0
Frederico Nobre Rosa55144811/0
Paulo Jorge dos Santos Futre5542111/0
Luís Fernando Peixoto
Gonçalves Sobrinho
António dos Santos Ferreira André443602/0
José Rui Lopes Águas5323464
César Gonçalves de Brito Duarte431267
António Augusto Gomes de Sousa331225
António Manuel Pacheco Domingos211119
Jaime Fernandes Magalhães3121114
José António Ramalho Lima211109
António Henriques Fonseca Jesus Oliveira21192
Jaime Alves Magalhães11190
António Maurício Farinha Henriques Morato1190
Álvaro Monteiro Magalhães1190
Fernando Mendes Soares Gomes11901
José Orlando Vinha Rocha Semedo1190
Carlos Jorge Marques Caldas Xavier11190
António Manuel Tavares Fonseca11133
Jorge da Costa Ferreira11490
Pedro Alexandre Marques Caldas Xavier2264
Rui Manuel Trindade Jordão1145
Jorge Manuel Lopes da Silva1145
Adelino Augusto da Graça Barbosa Barros8
Fernando Albino de Sousa Chalana1
Fernando Manuel Antunes Mendes1
Domingos José Paciência Oliveira1
Miguel Alberto Fernandes Marques1
Oceano Andrade da Cruz1

– game by game

PlayerLux (h)Bel (h)Sui (h)Bel (a)Sui (a)Cze (a)Lux (a)Cze (h)AppsMins
Jaime Alves90R190
Vítor Paneira90869061896390456+2614
Rui Barros90909090909090908720
Fernando Gomes90190
Paulo Futre90619090905421
Jaime Magalhães45R43261+2114
João Pinto909090909090457585
António Oliveira9021+192
António VelosoR909090909090907630
António SousaR9045903225
José Semedo9090
António Pacheco29901+1119
César Brito49090833+1267
António André909090904360
Jorge Silva45+145
Pedro Venâncio90909090905450
Carlos Xavier90R190
Rui Águas29479090903+2346
António FonsecaR33133
Pedro Xavier577+264
Fernando MendesR
Domingo PaciênciaR

– ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
1Paulo Futre7,285
2João Pinto7,056
3Vítor Paneira7,017
4António André6,904
4Rui Águas6,904
6Rui Barros6,887
7Frederico Rosa6,874
8Pedro Venâncio6,854
9Adelino Nunes6,845
10António Veloso6,836
11Luís Sobrinho6,804
12Silvino Louro6,627
Explanation to table: Number of rated games: 7. A player needs to have obtained a rating in half or more of the games in order to appear


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