Portugal will look to make amends after the draw with Ukraine as they look to secure all three points against Serbia and take control of Group B.
Portugal were the overwhelming favourites to beat Ukraine when the two sides met in their first round of UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers a few days back. Instead of wrapping the game up as expected, the Seleccao huffed and puffed against the Ukrainians as the match ended in a goalless draw for both teams to share the spoils. That coupled with Luxembourg’s win took the minnow to the top of the group.
Serbia, on the other hand, will come into this game, full of confidence after their recent friendly against Germany. Although they were down to 10 men deep into second-half injury time, Mladen Krstajic managed an impressive draw against the former world champions in a game that would have boosted their hopes before their game against Portugal.
Serbia will now open their account for the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Portugal, knowing a win would give them some command over their group, although they would be wary of a Portuguese side looking to take control of the group. A draw would also be a good start; however, that would damage Portugal’s campaign right when it has just begun.
Team News & Tactics
Cristiano Ronaldo endured a rusty return to the national team in the goalless draw with Ukraine. The Juventus talisman, however, is expected to keep his place in the lineup. Fernando Santos is not likely to make wholesale changes to the lineup as he’d want the side to gel together for the next round of games.
Bruno Fernandes is the only absentee from the squad through injury and will miss the Serbia game. Santos is not expected to change the formation or personnel in defence, sticking with the likes of Joao Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro. The manager will undoubtedly make some changes to the attacking unit after the disappointing game last time around.
Santos is likely to retain William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva and Ronaldo in the lineup, while hoping to give chances to the likes of Pizzi, Rafa Silva, Diogo Jota and Dyego Sousa. Sousa will likely partner Ronaldo up front in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Patricio; Cancelo, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Silva, Carvalho, Pizzi, Rafa; Ronaldo, Sousa
Serbia have a few injury problems heading into their first qualifying game of this campaign. Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Matic, Filip Kostic and Aleksandar Prijovic are all missing through injuries and have subsequently withdrawn from the squad. Manager Mladen Krstajic will be hoping for striker Aleksandar Mitrovic’s availability for this game after he missed the draw with Germany.
Mitrovic is expected to be fit for this game, but his place is under threat from one of Europe’s in-form strikers in Luka Jovic. The Eintracht Frankfurt forward will be hoping for a chance upfront once again after impressing and scoring Serbia’s goal against the Germans. Additionally, he’d be very much aware of his Portuguese counterparts, and there’s a chance he might start.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Dmitrovic; Rukavina, Milenkovic, Spajic, Begosavac; Maksimovic; Tadic, Lukic, Milinkovic-Savic, Ljajic; Jovic
- Portugal have drawn seven of their last eight games in UEFA Euro Qualifiers.
- Portugal have been drawing at both half-time and full-time in 6 of their last 7 matches in European Championship Qualifiers.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Portugal’s last 5 games in European Championship qualification games.
- Portugal have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches in Euro Qualifiers.
- Portugal are yet to taste defeat to Serbia, having recorded two victories and two draws in the four meetings between the nations.
Player to Watch
It’s often the case that games in which the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo features the spotlight tends to be on him. This time, however, things might be different, and we get to focus on a rising star in Luka Jovic. The forward has been impressing for Eintracht Frankfurt this season and attracting plenty of attention including from the likes of Barcelona, but these are the games where he needs to prove a point or two.
Portugal are an obvious threat considering the quality of the players on board, but Serbia have shown what they are capable of. As for Jovic, another good performance could help him cement his place ahead of the struggling Aleksandar Mitrovic for good.
Portugal 1-1 Serbia
Serbia have not beaten the Portuguese in four games, losing twice. The Orlovi, however, are one of the most underrated sides during this campaign. They have some promising talents, both in attack and defence, and they should be able to get a result against Portugal.
The hosts did not seem like a well-gelled unit against Ukraine, and the problems that exist cannot be expected to be solved overnight. That said, Portugal will struggle to break this Serbian team down and although they are not in bad shape to be beaten, there is every chance of this game ending in a draw.