Portugal has proven themselves once again on the international stage after rising above pre-tournament controversy involving iconic figure Cristiano Ronaldo to be one of the first nations to book passage into the round of 16 while currently sitting atop Group H and likely to emerge group winners.
But their potential deep run during the knockout stage has suffered a severe body blow after reports from French outlet Le Parisien confirm that Paris Saint-Germain left-back starlet Nuno Mendes will now miss the rest of the 2022 World Cup.
Mendes has emerged as one of the brightest young talents in a Portuguese player pool already chock-full of impressive youth at the highest level, with his influence already felt at both the national team level as well as for French giants PSG.
The 20-year-old Sintra native was brought into the team to start against Uruguay in a match that Portugal went on to win 2-0 after the European side narrowly ran out winners against Ghana in a 3-2 thriller that Borussia Dortmund star Raphaël Guerreiro was given the nod in.
Mendes would only last 42-minutes in what was shaping up to be a very good evening for him on a personal level, but a muscle injury will now leave Fernando Santos’ men with only one left-back available for the rest of the tournament, though Guerreiro does offer a very good option in certain circumstances.
It is unfortunately yet another injury to a star name in Qatar this winter after what continues to prove to be a disproportionate amount of fitness concerns during a mid-season World Cup amidst a full-season calendar across the top leagues in Europe and players without the ability to use the normal winding down of a traditional campaign to begin to prepare for a tournament.
How Portugal responds without his absence remains to be seen, but a potential round-of-16 clash with one of Switzerland, Cameroon, or Serbia could offer interesting talking points should Guerreiro struggle.