Pepe declared Portugal have the quality to become world champions but admitted he was uncertain about his own prospects of playing at Qatar 2022.

Fernando Santos' team clinched their place at the finals with a 2-0 play-off win over North Macedonia in Porto on Tuesday.

Bruno Fernandes got both of the goals for the Euro 2016 champions, who beat Turkey in their previous play-off match.

It means Cristiano Ronaldo is set to feature at a record-equalling fifth World Cup, though fellow veteran campaigner Pepe is not quite so sure of his place.

While that does not seem likely to be down to coach Santos, with 39-year-old Pepe still a mainstay of his defence, the former Real Madrid centre-back insisted that now his focus is on helping Porto, rather than thinking about the showpiece that starts in November.

"I still don't know, there's still a lot of time," Pepe told reporters.

"Now I have to focus on my club's games. I didn't want to mix things up, but I know that at this age I have to think game by game. Obviously I want to help Portugal.

"I'm very happy to do what I like to do, play football, I try to pass on this desire of mine to enjoy every second and moment in football, because it passes very fast. I am 39, but I still have the same illusion of a kid of 15, 18, 20 years old. I try to make [my team-mates] feel this happiness because we are privileged."

Pepe played a crucial role in Portugal's second goal against North Macedonia, making a fine tackle deep in his own half to start the counter-attack that resulted in Fernandes steering home Diogo Jota's cross.

Portugal were ultimately comfortable winners, having 11 attempts and restricting their opponents to just three going the other way, with none of those hitting the target.

Yet the fact they were even in this play-off in the first place, and could well have been facing European champions Italy if not for North Macedonia's shock win over the Azzurri last week, points to a sense of underachievement.

Pepe, though, feels Portugal have all the tools to succeed in Qatar.

"We have a lot of quality, we know that for this feat we have to work hard and be very strong mentally, be a humble and warrior team, which we were many times in the period in which we won the Euros and the Nations League," he said.

"We have players with a big future, who play in big clubs in Europe. I believe we have the capacity to be world champions, but we'll take it easy, prepare well, so we can be at our level.

"It was an emotional night, the atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic, we felt that positive energy from everyone. I feel privileged to be part of this group, to be able to live this wonderful night.

"It [would be] a huge injustice not to be at the World Cup, the way we work, the way we dedicate ourselves, the criticism we receive. We proved to be a humble team."

Porto will be without captain Pepe for their decisive Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday after he tested positive for coronavirus.

The Primeira Liga leaders go into their final Group B match at Estadio do Dragao in second place, with Atleti and Milan also in the hunt to qualify for the last 16 behind runaway leaders Liverpool.

Porto will have to do without veteran centre-back Pepe, while Marko Grujic is a doubt due to an ankle injury.

Coach Sergio Conceicao said during a news conference on Monday: "Pepe tested positive for COVID. It's an uncontrollable situation, it's part of society.

"As for Grujic, two days ago in training, with the poor quality of our pitches, he sprained [his ankle] and is in doubt."

Milan and Atleti are just a point behind Porto and Jurgen Klopp will ring the changes for Liverpool's trip to San Siro.

Conceicao believes it should already have been mission accomplished for his side, who must win to make certain of a place in the knockouts.

He said: "In this circumstance, in the last round of the group stage [to be in contention to progress] is something my team deserves praise for, and it would be deserved to be already in the round of 16.

"Any of the teams [Porto, Milan and Atleti] can dream of going through, but we have to focus on what we have to do in the game and win it."

Mateus Uribe (suspended) and Ivan Marcano (foot) are also ruled out, while Francisco Conceicao (hip) and Joao Mario (fatigue) are rated as doubtful. 

Pepe has urged Portugal to show the same hunger for victory against world champions France as they were subjected to against Germany last weekend.

Holders Portugal face the prospect of their Euro 2020 campaign ending at the group stage, with a positive result against Didier Deschamps' world champions on Wednesday their target to guarantee progress, although a narrow defeat could still see them progress as one of the four best third-placed teams.

The good work from an opening 3-0 win over Hungary was undone in a 4-2 defeat to Germany in Munich, when a usually obdurate Portugal defence was repeatedly undone as Joachim Low's 3-4-3 system granted his team numerical superiority in attack.

Left wing-back Robin Gosens tormented Portugal right-back Nelson Semedo and contributed an assist and a goal after half-time, as the Selecao became the first defending European champions to concede four goals in a single match at the competition.

However, it was the excitement that Atalanta player Gosens showed when Germany won corners that caught veteran centre-back Pepe's eye.

"Against Germany, I have a very clear picture in my mind. Whenever the left full-back got a corner, they were very happy," Pepe said.

"That shows how much they wanted to beat us. We have to want it as much as Germany did in order to make it through and achieve our goals.

"When we win we all win, when we lose we all lose. That's what makes us a very strong, cohesive group.

"We need to have our lines closer together, we need to support each other. Over the last few years we've shown what Portugal is like, we have good quality players and all work together."

Head coach Fernando Santos echoed Pepe's sentiments, acknowledging his side lacked their usual balance between attack and defence last time out.

"We did a thorough analysis of the game and looked at what we could have done better. I think we all reached a similar type of conclusion," Santos said. "It wasn't our usual type of game, it wasn't the Portuguese style.

"The crucial element in the game is to balance the team, it's not about the best or the worst. Every single team on Earth can be aggressive and supportive of one another.

"We know that France will play like this, We need to fight more, want it more and be more organised than they are.

"If we put our quality out there and they do, then it can swing either way. We need to be very focused and very strong in every area of the pitch and every moment of the game."

Santos pledged not to make wholesale changes, while acknowledging the quick turnaround in games and high temperatures in Budapest have had a sapping effect.

In terms of strategy, the veteran tactician stated it was important to right the wrong of his team's Munich missteps.

"As for changes, I could change every single player – I'm joking, of course! It's not about changing everyone," he added.

"We played four at the back and we were fully aware that we were under-manned. Against lower-ranked teams we can attack with more people and our midfielders play differently than the German midfielders.

"France play up front with three very mobile players. Benzema and Griezmann are very mobile players. In the last third we will have four against three, sometimes we will have four against four.

"We're focused. If we play a very intensive game, with the right kind of focus, play out from the back and make the opponent run, then I think we have a very good chance of winning."

Sergio Conceicao fears Chelsea's shock loss to West Brom could work against Porto heading into the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Chelsea had not lost under Thomas Tuchel before a stunning 5-2 home reverse on Saturday, a result that led to the Blues dropping out of the Premier League's top four.

Defender Thiago Silva was sent off shortly after his side had taken the lead against relegation-threatened opponents, with his dismissal leading to a dramatic collapse that Tuchel admitted in the aftermath was "tough to digest".

Porto, therefore, are wary of a possible backlash from that result in Seville, the venue for both games between the teams due to the travel restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

"You know that Thiago Silva was sent off in the first half and that the game had a different course," said Conceicao, whose side will be listed as the home team on Wednesday.

"Chelsea until this last game had been extremely competent, they have not lost a game in the Champions League. They are a competent team, and when these defeats happen, it serves as a warning.

"If you want my opinion, I would prefer that they won the last game. These situations make the siren sound and make everyone more alert, more awake to danger, and I honestly don't like these defeats very much."

Rather than read too much into the West Brom game, Conceicao highlighted how Chelsea had impressively overcome Atletico Madrid in the last 16, winning both legs without conceding a goal.

He also referenced his opposite number's penchant for tinkering with tactics to suit each match situation, something he says Tuchel also did during his time in charge at Paris Saint-Germain.

"In the analysis of Chelsea, practically that last game wasn't considered," the former Portugal international said.

"There were other games that they played before that, namely those in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid, but this one [against West Brom] did not enter [our analysis].

"Tuchel is a coach who is capable of changing even if he wins, while in France he did the same at PSG. Play with two men behind the striker or play with two men in front, as in the first round with Atletico. It is up to us to analyse that dynamic.

"I saw the last game they played, but we did not present images to the players of that game."

Porto made it through to the last eight at the expense of Juventus, but veteran centre-back Pepe made clear the players will not dwell on their Turin heroics and instead focus on the task in hand - getting past Chelsea.

"The Juventus match is already in the past. This is the important one now. We must show a lot of passion and humility and work as a team," said the defender, a three-time Champions League winner during his time at Real Madrid.

"We have prepared well. Nothing is certain in football, but I hope we will be the team that our fans expect. We respect Chelsea. It will be difficult, but we want to win this tie."

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