Portuguese seek culprits for World Cup flop

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Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts to a play during the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts to a play during the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo walks on the pitch during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, center, and Portugal’s Bruno Alves, right, react to a play along with United States’ Matt Besler, left, and United States’ DaMarcus Beasley, second from left, during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal fans searching for explanations for their team’s disappointing World Cup performances are finding plenty of possible culprits.

A last-gasp 2-2 draw against the United States on Sunday, following a 4-0 thrashing by Germany, has left the Portuguese on the verge of a first-round exit from the tournament in Brazil.

Returning home after the group stage would be a stunning upset for team ranked fourth in the world by FIFA.

The finger-pointing has already begun, though. Targets for criticism include the team’s perceived over-dependence on star Cristiano Ronaldo, poor physical preparation, misguided organization for the tournament, coach Paulo Bento’s failure to bring new players into the team, and a squad that’s thin on quality midfielders and strikers.

A glum Ronaldo commented, “we’re probably just an average team.”

Associated Press

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