Ricardo Quaresma’s revival in form gave coach Fernando Santos much to cheer about going into Portugal’s European campaign. However a muscular injury suffered during training means the winger is doubtful to start tomorrow against underdogs Iceland.
In Iceland, tournament regulars Portugal encounter a potential speed-bump to their progress through to the knock-outs. Having already met with an embarrassing loss against Albania during qualification, Cristiano Ronaldo & co will be keen on avoiding any such mishaps in their opening game tomorrow at St. Etienne.
Ricardo Quaresma was tipped for great things when he first broke into the international scene. However, injury played spoilsport on an immensely promising career as he never managed to reach the heights he touched early on in his career. Now at the age of 33, in a renaissance of sorts, Quaresma looks to be back in the scheme of things after a virtuoso performance against Estonia in a friendly, guiding Portugal to a 7-0 win. The winger even out-performed Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo on the day, scoring two goals and assisting two others as his exuberance rubbed off on the Portuguese side who played with a verve and fluency quite unlike their qualification campaign through to the Euros.
However, after suffering another potential injury blow, Quaresma is now said to be doubtful to make the starting line-up tomorrow. The winger is reportedly smarting from a muscular injury and is fighting hard to make himself available for Fernando Santos’ side. The Selecção das Quinas, however, face no other injury problems with new Bayern Munich signing Renato Sanches up for selection, as are Southampton duo Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares.
Should Quaresma be ruled out, Nani will be expected to start upfront along with Ronaldo at the top of a 4-4-2 formation with Andre Gomes and Joao Mario taking their place in the flanks. William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho are expected to be tasked with taking control of the midfield. Meanwhile Vieirinha, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe and Eliseu could form the back line with Rui Patricio in goal to ward off threats posed by an Iceland attack led by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Alfreid Finnbogasson. Ronaldo will hold the key to Portugal’s progress in the competition and he has to lead from the front this time around, if he harbours any dreams of lifting an international trophy with his beloved Portugal.
Iceland, on the other hand, have Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, Cardiff City’s Aron Gunnarsson and striker Kolbein Sigthorsson returning to action having missed the side’s pre-tournament friendlies due to injury. Sigurdsson was the side’s highest goal-scorer during Iceland’s incredible qualification campaign through to their maiden European Championship and will be a key figure for his side tomorrow as well.
Ex-Barcelona and Chelsea star Eidur Gudjonssen is also a part of the squad but is unlikely to start. The all-time highest goal scorer for the Icelanders could however come on as an impact substitute in the closing stages of the game giving his side’s midfielders bodies to target up front.