Portugal will travel to the Hampden Park, as they prepare to take on Scotland in a friendly encounter on Sunday evening.

Portugal will be aiming to make it three wins on the bounce, when they face off against Scotland in an international friendly this weekend.

Portugal come into the Sunday’s game high on confidence, having not lost a single game following their round of 16 exit in the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the hands of Uruguay.

A 1-1 draw against Croatia in a friendly last month was followed by a 1-0 win against Italy in their UEFA Nations League opener. The Seleccao defeated Poland 3-2 in their second Nations League game earlier this week and manager Fernando Santos will be keen on extending his team’s winning run.

On the other hand, Scotland squandered a first-half lead to lose 2-1 to Israel in their Nations League assignment earlier in the week. With one victory in their last five games –  a 2-0 victory over Albania in September – the pressure is on manager Alex McLeish to spark a turnaround at the earliest. However, they will have their work cut out going up against the Euro 2016 champions.

Team News & Tactics

Scotland

Ryan Fraser and Leigh Griffiths withdrew from the squad, having failed to recover from their injuries, while Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney has not been picked up by the manager, owing to the fact that he recently came back from a layoff. There was no place for Matt Phillips in the roster either.

John Souttar, Kieran Tierney, Robert Snodgrass and Charlie Mulgrew have been released from the squad. The manager has called up has called up Celtic’s Ryan Christie and Aberdeen duo Michael Devlin and Gary Mackay-Steven.

The 3-5-2 setup that McLeish has used drew a lot of fire following the defeat to Israel, with a number of players being played out of their natural positions. Given that he has just three central defenders in the squad, a switch to a 4-2-3-1 is likely on Sunday.

In goal, Celtic No.1 Craig Gordon should get a look-in, after Rangers’ goalkeeper Allan McGregor started in Haifa on Thursday night. Scott McKenna is set to start in the heart of the defence, after having came on as a half-time substitute in the last match, while Jack Hendry could come into the team at Hampden Park.

Stephen O’Donnell should continue on the right side of the defence, while Liverpool star Andrew Robertson, who had a forgetful night in Haifa, is expected to hold on to his spot on the opposite side.

In the middle of the park, Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong is in line for a start at the Hampden Park, alongside Aston Villa’s John McGinn, who was in the starting XI on Thursday night as well.

Callum McGregor, who was one of Scotland’s bright spots against Israel, should start in the No.10 role, flanked by James Forrest and Johnny Russell. Oli McBurnie, who made a substitute appearance in the defeat to Israel, should lead the line in place of Hearts’ forward Steven Naismith.

Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Gordon; O’Donnell, Hendry, McKenna, Robertson; McGinn, Armstrong; Forrest, McGregor, Russell; McBurnie; 

Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most notable absentee from the Portugal squad, with the talismanic attacker having not played since the World Cup. Renato Sanches is back in the scheme of things after a turnaround of form at Bayern Munich, while Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Helder Costa will also be pushing for a starting berth.

No changes in the 4-1-4-1 system that Fernando Santos used against Poland are expected in Scotland. Uncapped goalkeeper Claudio Ramos could be in line for his debut, replacing first-choice stopper Rui Patricio on Sunday.

Southampton mainstay Cedric Soares should come in for Joao Cancelo at right-back, while Mario Rui is expected to hold on to his spot at left-back. Veteran defender Pepe is likely to be rested, with Pedro Mendes expected to come in, while the 21-year old Ruben Dias is set to be retained alongside him.

Danilo Pereira is expected to come into the the starting XI at the base of the midfield, in place of Ruben Neves. Renato Sanches too should get the nod, ahead of Pizzi, while William Carvalho is likely to hold on to his spot in the middle of the park.

Helder Costa, who has been in fine form this term, should make his international bow at the Hampden Park on Saturday, with star man Bernardo Silva likely to be given a break. 24-year-old Bruno Fernandes could find himself slotting in on the left flank for the Seleccao. Spearheading the attack for the visitors will be the 22-year-old Andre Silva once again.

Probable Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Ramos; Cedric, Mendes, Dias, Rodrigues; Pereira; Costa, Sanches, Carvalho, Fernandes; Silva; 

Key Stats

  • Scotland and Portugal have previously met on 14 occasions, with the former winning four games, while the latter have picked up seven victories in total.
  • This will be the first meeting between the two teams in 16 years. The last time Scotland and Portugal clashed was in 2002, which the Seleccao won 2-0.
  • Scotland have lost three consecutive away games for the first time since October 2012. They have one win in their previous three home matches.
  • Portugal have lost just one of their last six fixtures that came in the World Cup against Uruguay (W3, D2).

Player to Watch

Andre Silva (Portugal)

Man in form (Photo courtesy - Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

Man in form (Photo courtesy – Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

After a disappointing last season with AC Milan, the 22-year-old striker moved to Sevilla on loan for the 2018-19 season and has since been in irresistible form. Silva, this term, has already bagged seven goals in eight La Liga appearances, leading Sevilla to the summit of the Spanish top-flight.

The striker has managed to carry that form to the international stages as well. It was Silva who scored the only goal against Italy for Portugal last month and was once again on the scoresheet this Thursday against Poland. In the form that the 22-year-old is in, expect him to do some damage against Scotland.

Prediction

Scotland 0-2 Portugal

Last time they faced an elite side in Belgium, Scotland were thrashed 4-0. However, the win over Albania last month seemed like a step forward for McLeish’s team. But, the loss to Israel on Thursday seems to have sucked away all the optimism.

The manager and the team find themselves under intense pressure heading into Sunday’s encounter and will face a monumental task ahead of them.

Portugal were made to work for their win against Poland earlier in the week, but they are a far superior team in comparison to their weekend’s opponents. And as a result, we at The Hard Tackle, expect them to see out a comfortable victory at the Hampden Park.

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