Confederations Cup, Semi Final
Kazan Arena, Russia 7pm
Portugal vs Chile – Match Preview – The Confederations Cup has been whittled down to the final four and the first semi-final pits European Champions Portugal against South American Champions Chile in Kazan.
The tournament has proceeded pretty much as expected for the Euro 2016 winners, a last-minute equaliser for fellow semi-finalists Mexico in an even 2-2 draw the only real setback to date for Fernando Santos’ men.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner in a solid 1-0 victory over hosts Russia before yet another man-of-the-match performance for the Real Madrid star in a 4-0 demolishing of OFC champions New Zealand. Consequentially, Portugal topped Group A on goal difference and as a reward face second place in Group B, Chile.
Chile’s ride to the semi-finals hasn’t been so convincing, it took two late goals to see off African Cup of Nations victors Cameroon in their opening game, before a good draw against tournament favourites Germany. Then, a weak performance in a limp 1-1 draw with Australia resulted in a second-place finish in the group and instead of playing Mexico, now must beat Portugal.
Underestimate Chile at your own peril though, the back-to-back Copa America champions are currently ranked 4th in the world (compared to Portugal’s 8th) and have been solid defensively while always providing a dangerous threat going forward for the last few years (think back to Chile beating England 2-0 at Wembley in 2013).
Portugal would much rather face Chile than World Cup 2014 winners Germany, however, but a great match is promised here with plenty of potential in attack, spearheaded by star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez respectively. A place in the final against the victors of Mexico and Germany awaits.
Both sides have only recently acquired their first ever taste of international silverware in the past few years (Chile 2015 Copa America victory and Portugal Euro 2016) so will be ravenous to continue that feast of winning.
Dortmund left-back Raphel Guerreiro has been ruled out with a suspected broken leg from the victory over Russia so Eliseu is set to continue his covering role on the left side of defence. Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva’s excellent form will give headaches to coach Fernando Santos, with Andre Gomes and William Carvalho at risk of losing their starting positions.
Chile have much less squad depth than their counterparts but Juan Antonio Pizzi will have a full squad to choose from, including key men Mauricio Isla, Arturo Vidal, and Alexis Sanchez.
Players to Watch
As mentioned above, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is absolutely crucial to Chile’s success. The ex-Barcelona man recently became his country’s all-time record goal-scorer, overtaking Marcelo Salas’ previous record of 37 with his 38th in the draw against Germany. This match also saw the dynamic forward extend his (and Claudio Bravo) record as his country’s joint-leading appearance maker too, with 112. Sanchez is one of the world’s best footballers with phenomenal ability on the ball, he’s equally capable of delicately splitting a defence or bulldozing his way through with sheer force of nature. Pair that with a deadly eye for goal and it is easy to see how he racked up an amazing 30 goals and 13 assists for Arsenal in all competitions last season; his best ever return. If Portugal keep Sanchez quiet, a big if, their chances of winning will increase tenfold.
With all the talk surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and his ever-excellent form, Andre Silva’s brilliant performances have gone somewhat under the radar. With 8 goals in 11 senior Portugal appearances, and set to keep his place due to a wonderful performance capped with a goal against New Zealand in the last game, the Porto striker adds a different element to the Portuguese attack with his willingness to go in behind the defence, wonderful for players such as Bernardo Silva to link with. The 21-year-old’s destructive form last campaign (16 goals in 32 apps in Liga Nos and 4 goals in 8 in the Champions League) has earned the forward a lucrative £32m transfer to Italian sleeping giants AC Milan, who will be keen to see if this level of performance can be sustained on the international stage.
- Skybet Price boost – Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez both to score in 90 mins – 13/2
- Skybet Price Boost – Andre Silva to score and Portugal to win in 90 mins – 4/1
- Skybet Scorecast Boost – Cristiano Ronaldo to score first and Portugal to win 2-1 – 28/1
- Skybet Scorecast Boost (Double Chance) – Eduardo Vargas to score first and either Chile to win 2-1 or Draw 1-1 – 20/1
- Skybet RequestAbet Up to 10/1 – A goal in each half and 4+ corners in each half – 3/1
- Skybet RequestAbet Up to 10/1 – Chile to score 2+ goals and 6+ Chile corners – 15/2
- Skybet RequestAbet 11/1 to 28/1 – BTTS, 5+ corners each team and 20+ booking pts each team – 12/1
- Skybet RequesAbet 11/1 to 28/1 – Ronaldo & Sanchez to score and Vidal to be carded – 14/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 11/1 to 28/1 – Vargas to score, Chile to win, over 2.5 goals and 20+ booking pts each team – 18/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 33/1 to 66/1 – Andre Silva & Ronaldo to score and Medel & Quaresma to be carded – 33/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 33/1 to 66/1 – Vargas & Sanchez to score and Medel & Adrien Silva to be carded – 50/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 80/1 and Above – Bernardo Silva & Ronaldo to score and Fonte & Alves to be carded – 80/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 80/1 and Above – Ronaldo to score from outside the penalty area, 4+ corners each team, Vidal to be carded and 20+ booking pts each team – 80/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 80/1 and Above – Ronaldo & Sanchez to score and Ronaldo & Sanchez to be carded – 100/1
- Skybet RequestAbet 80/1 and Above – Ronaldo & Vargas to score, Draw and Medel & Vidal to be carded (all 90 mins) & Portugal to win on penalties – 350/1
- Skybet Featured RequestAbets – Sanchez to score and Soares to be carded – 10/1
- Skybet Featured RequestAbets – Ronaldo & Sanchez to score and Carvalho & Medel to be carded – 50/1