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Portugal test out new tactics in Cristiano Ronaldo's absense

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What Portugal did against Greece probably doesn't tell us much about their game against the U.S., but it showed they have something different in their arsenal.

Gualter Fatia

Champions League finalists Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Coentrao and Pepe were always expected to get a rest against Greece in Portugal's first pre-World Cup friendly, but manager Paulo Bento didn't just give Real Madrid players the day -- or at least the first half -- off on Saturday. He decided to bench a couple of other presumed starters, trying out a new setup in their 0-0 draw. It wasn't thrilling, but it showed Portugal has another trick in the bag when it's needed.

Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles were also given rests, with defensive midfielder William Carvalho and striker Eder replacing them. This put Portugal in a very defensive 4-4-2 setup, something very different from the 4-3-3 that they play in most matches. For a conservative setup, against a very defensive team like Greece, it actually wasn't all that bad at creating chances. And the midfield pair of Carvalho and Miguel Veloso absolutely suffocated Greece, despite being outnumbered three-to-two.

Portugal actually looked a lot like Bob Bradley's United States when they played 4-4-2 with two defensively-minded midfielders, but even more solid, since that team never quite had players in the center who were as good defensively as Portugal's pair.

You're unlikely to see Portugal start a game in this formation, but given how successful it was defensively and how much better it would be going forward if Ronaldo was involved in any way, it won't be shocking if Bento busts it out situationally. If he's up a goal or a draw will be a good result for Portugal on the final day, it's not a bad thing to switch to.

Saturday's game against Greece wasn't much to watch, but it did show us that Portugal are a bit more versatile than they were presumed to be.