WC Qualifiers - Portugal vs Switzerland - Match Preview

Portugal vs Switzerland – Match Preview – Group B reaches its nail-biting climax as leaders Switzerland travel to European Champions Portugal in a winner takes all clash in the race for Russia 2018.

This game is the definition of all to play for, La Nati have won every single one of their matches so far – including a 2-0 victory over Portugal in the reverse fixture – and lead the Selecao by three points entering the final matchday, albeit with a worse goal difference.

The permutations are as follows; a draw will see Vladimir Petkovic’s side qualify automatically as Group winners and Portugal into the play-offs.

However, a win for Portugal will see Cristiano Ronaldo and co into the 2018 World Cup and Switzerland fall into the play-offs instead, bizarrely despite winning nine of their ten games.

The only time Portugal have faltered in this qualification campaign has been the opening game against Switzerland, not many expected the Swiss to maintain their perfect form throughout but they have given themselves every opportunity to see the job through here.

It would be somewhat disconcerting for the reigning European Champions to fail to automatically qualify from their group, but Fernando Santos’s team have been convincing too. They outclassed both Faroe Islands and Andorra 6-0 and beating the other strongest opponents Hungary 3-0 and 1-0 with relative ease – and Portugal will strongly fancy their chances of breaking Switzerland hearts at the intimidating Estadio da Luz.

Team News
The main man Cristiano Ronaldo started the previous game against Andorra on the bench, despite coming on to make a huge impact and score when needed, to preserve his energy specifically for this crucial fixture – so is almost guaranteed to return to the starting line-up.
Santos will be without left-sided players Fabio Coentrao and Dortmund’s Raphael Guerriro.

Switzerland are facing this crunch tie without midfielders Edimilson Ferandes and the key Gelson Fernandes due to injury.

Shaqiri has the ability to win the game single handedly Photo Credit: skysports.com

Player to Watch
Whilst most will be expecting Portugal to take the initiative and attack Switzerland in search of the win they so desperately need, they will have to be wary of the threat facing their defence, and in particular from Xherdan Shaqiri. Plying his trade for Stoke City, British football fans know how dangerous the winger can be, possessing the ability to create a moment of magic from nothingness – precisely the type of unpredictable quality that could be the difference on a night like this. The ex-Bayern Munich and Inter Milan man has a wand of a left-foot, sparking a threat from anywhere within 30 yards or from free-kicks there may be a specific plan in place to nullify his threat. Hopefully a Shaqiri on the top of his game turns out in, for a 25-year-old extremely impressively, his 65th cap – hoping to add to his already stellar tally of 20 international goals.

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Portugal vs England - Match Preview

Portugal vs England – Match Preview – England will face Portugal in their final group stage fixture at the 2017 Women’s EURO’s where they will be looking to secure top spot in Group D. Mark Sampson’s side are yet to concede a goal in the tournament and have scored eight in two matches. Spain came close to breaking down the tough English defence led by captain, Steph Houghton, however failed to do so. Portugal overcame a tough test against Scotland where a late counter attacking goal gave them their first win of the tournament, despite having spent plenty of the match on the back foot.

England have been the most impressive team in the tournament so far. Their clinical attack led by poacher, Jodie Taylor, has delivered plenty of creativity and goals thus far. The Arsenal striker has scored four goals in two matches and currently leads the tournament golden boot standings. She has been supported by attackers, Ellen White and Fran Kirby who have also had no trouble finding the back of the net.

Jodie Taylor tops the scoring charts in the tournament so far with 4 goals Photo Credit: skysports.com

England have illustrated their strength and depth with midfield and defence also impressing. Centre midfield rock, Jill Scott, continued her impressive form following the Scotland victory and defender, Lucy Bronze, has continued to showcase her attacking ability down the right side. All in all, England shouldn’t have too much trouble dispatching of this rather underwhelming Portugal side.

Skybet Correct Score Group Betting – England to win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 – 11/4

Portugal scraped through victory over Scotland in their last game Photo Credit: skysports.com

Portugal most recently took to the field against Scotland, where they narrowly won 2-1. The Portuguese seemed to struggle to string many passes together and were only dangerous in counter attacking scenarios. Scotland were able to give Portugal a tough 90 minutes where they were on the backfoot for plenty of it, so England will be another level all together. Trindade Coruche Mendes’ pace was Portugal’s biggest outlet, however were lucky Scotland were not clinical enough and squandered easy chances.

Portugal, like many nations at this tournament, are appearing for the first time. Manager Francisco Neto, has expressed his delight that his team were able to salvage three points in their first major tournament and will also believe his side have a good chance of qualification. Can Neto and his side create more history?

Skybet Match Result – Portugal to Win in 90 mins – 14/1

 

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Portugal vs Chile - Match Preview

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.

Team News
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.

Sanchez became Chile’s all time record goalscorer with a goal against Germany in the Confederations Cup Photo Credit: skysports.com

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.

Andre Silva has scored 8 goals in 11 International appearances Photo Credit: skysports.com

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.

 

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New Zealand vs Portugal - Match Preview
Confederations Cup, Group A
Krestovskyi Stadium, Russia 4pm

New Zealand vs Portugal – Match Preview – European Champions Portugal are seeking just a point against already-eliminated New Zealand to book their place in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.

Fernando Santos’ men were shaky in a 2-2 draw against Mexico in the opening game – but a much more resilient performance in a Ronaldo-led 1-0 victory over tournament hosts Russia sees Portugal as firm favourites to make it into the final four.
Mexico, ahead of Portugal by one goal on goal difference, face Russia in the other group game and the Selecao know bettering the Gold Cup champions’ result will result in a 1st place finish in Group A.

2016 OFC Nations Cup Champions New Zealand have been out of their depth so far in this competition, losing meagrely 2-0 to Russia before a similarly disappointing performance in a 2-1 defeat to Mexico. The only positive to emerge from the tournament so far is captain Chris Wood ending The All Whites’ 555-minute goal-scoring drought in the Confederations Cup. Anthony Hudson’s side face the utmost uphill struggle to beat the European Champions and claim a first ever victory in official FIFA tournament play.

This match sees Portugal as overwhelming favourites but there is a strong likelihood that most of the side will be rested, including the on-fire Cristiano Ronaldo, giving New Zealand a glimmer of hope. However, you would still expect Portugal to have too much firepower for a creativity lacking Kiwis side. New Zealand do not normally concede many goals, so if they can stay defensively structured and stave off the Portuguese attack and still be clinical, a surprise could be on the cards. But it is a big if.

Bernado Silva is a threat with his creativity and drive towards opposition defences Photo Credit: skysports.com

Players to Watch
With Ronaldo likely to be rested, Bernado Silva could be the most important player in the Portuguese attack. Manchester City’s new £43m signing impressed in the 1-0 defeat of Russia, and has been in fantastic form since Monaco’s last campaign – contributing 10 goals and 10 assists in all competitions as his side claimed the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals. Elusive and with devastating ability with the ball at his feet, Bernado Silva is a threat every single time he picks up the ball from 35 yards and drives towards the opposition. The attacking midfielder has an eye for goal and is also adept at threading the ball into the tightest gaps in defences. New Zealand will have their work cut out for them in resisting Bernado Silva’s charms.

New Zealand’s Chris Wood made his 50th International appearance against Russia Photo Credit: espnfc.com

Captain Chris Wood earned his 50th (and now 51st) cap during the tournament, and in that international career has scored a stellar 20 goals – including his side’s solitary strike this tournament in the last game against Mexico. Leeds United’s prized asset smashed in 27 goals in The Championship last season and 30 in all competitions, earning himself a spot in the coveted Championship Team of the Year, narrowly missing out on Player of The Year to Anthony Knockeart. The 6ft3 striker is a constant threat and will be confident he can snatch up any of the likely scarce chances presented to him in this game.

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Russia vs Portugal - Match Preview
Confederations Cup, Group B 
Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow

Russia vs Portugal – Match Preview – Russia face Portugal in Group A for the second round of matches at the 2017 Confederations Cup. The match promises plenty of drama, with the bookmakers favouring Portugal however Russia impressed in their last outing against New Zealand. The Russians were victorious over the Kiwi’s, 2-0, in a dominant performance which saw the Northern hemisphere side pepper the New Zealand goal with a total of 19 shots.

The host nation, Russia, will look to broaden their lead at the top of Group A in front of a home crowd. However, Portugal pose a very different threat to New Zealand; Cristiano Ronaldo being the obvious danger-man for the Portuguese. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will have to remain tight at the back and prevent Ronaldo from getting a sniff at their goal, a task even the World’s best defenders cannot overcome. But, Russia will feel quietly confident heading into the match despite being underdogs as they have a very impressive record against Portugal in Moscow; in their three meetings, the home nation won all three without conceding a goal. Can they continue the trend against a dangerous Portugal?

Skybet Match Result – Russia to Win – 16/5

Portugal manager, Fernando Santos, will be hoping for a routine win on Wednesday following a dramatic 2-2 draw with Mexico in their first Group A match. The European champions felt two points snatched from their grasp as Mexico were able to convert from an injury time corner to share the points. Portugal will have to step up and remain a solid unit to allow their creative attack to flourish, however, Portugal are weaker at the back end of the pitch, something Santos may look to alter his team selection to allow them to be safer. But, with Cristiano Ronaldo in your team, you’re always going to be a threat, can Portugal get their first win of the tournament?

Quaresma and Ronaldo will be key to providing a win for the Portuguese Photo Credit: skysports.com

Skybet Match Result – Portugal to Win – 19/20

Team News

Russia have no fresh injury worries for the match on Wednesday.

Striker, Fedor Smolov, found the back of the net against New Zealand, can he do the same against Portugal?

Skybet Anytime Goalscorer – Fedor Smolov to score Anytime in 90 mins – 2/1

Portugal, just like their opponents, also have no injuries to alter team selection.

It goes without saying that Ronaldo is the main man, can he deliver yet again for his country?

Skybet Anytime Goalscorer – Cristiano Ronaldo to score Anytime in 90 mins – Evens

 

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Portugal vs Mexico - Match Preview
Confederations Cup, Group A
Kazan Arena, Russia 4pm

Portugal vs Mexico – Match Preview – European Champions Portugal begin their Confederations Cup by facing 2015 CONCACAF Cup victors Mexico in what promises to be an enticing match-up in Kazan.

Portugal have not been in the greatest of form performance wise since claiming the European crown in France last summer; stumbling over the line against weaker sides such as Andorra, Cyprus, Faroe Island and Gibraltar whilst suffering defeat against Switzerland in their opening World Cup qualifier and in a friendly against Sweden.

Mexico, on the other hand have only tasted defeat once in their last 13 outings – in a friendly against Croatia – and with the CONCACAF Gold Cup to defend in July, Juan Carlos Osorio’s side will be hoping to garner some momentum from this tournament to storm the next. El Tri are always difficult to beat and are deserved dark horses in any competition.

The two sides have only twice previously faced each other, both resulting in a victory for The Selecao – most recently in 2014 where a last minute Bruno Alves goal won the friendly.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in scintillating form this season Photo Credit: skysports.com

Players to Watch 
Cristiano Ronaldo is a born winner. The 32-year-old wants to emerge victorious in every single competition he plays in and the Confederations Cup will be no different. On an unprecedented high following the magnificent success in France 2016; Portugal’s talismatic captain will be eager to prove it was no stand-alone fluke. The global superstar has also just retained the European Cup for the first time in the Champions League era with Real Madrid, and it would take a brave man to back against the current World Player of the Year to continue that form onto the international stage once again – adding to his already wonderful record of 73 goals in 139 caps for Portugal.

Javier Hernandez holds the current top scorer record for Mexico Photo Credit: skysports.com

Javier Hernandez is an extremely popular figure in Britain after his stellar spell at Manchester United, although many feel he was underutilised for a man of his abilities before he was shipped off to Bayer Leverkusen. Since then the recently-turned 29-year-old has rebuilt his reputation by scoring 39 goals in just 76 games for the German side whilst also becoming his nation’s highest-ever goal-scorer with a massive 47 goals by netting against Croatia in May and surpassing Jared Borgetti’s record. Chicharito always has the potential to turn a half-chance into a goal and will be a constant danger to the usually resilient Portuguese defence.

Team News 
Fernando Santos is are blessed with a full-strength squad to choose from and are likely to line up with all the big hitters starting.

Rafael Marquez is the only injry concern for Mexico, a back-problem potentially keeping the experienced centre-back out of the side.

 

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