Portugal will be looking to register their third victory of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign, when they host minnows Luxembourg on Friday night.
Reigning European champions Portugal will be aiming to strengthen their hold on the second spot in Group B of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, when they go head to head against Luxembourg at Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon this Friday.
Portugal had failed to win their first two fixtures of the qualifying campaign, having drawn against Ukraine and Serbia in March earlier this year. However, the Seleccao got up and running during last month’s international break, thrashing Serbia 4-2 before beating Lithuania 5-1.
The consecutive victories saw Portugal climb to the second spot in Group B, five points behind leaders Ukraine and a point above third-placed Serbia. Fernando Santos’s men have a game in hand over both the teams and have a great chance of pulling away from Serbia, with a victory on Friday.
Luxembourg are fourth in Group B with four points on board from five games, with their only win of the Qualifiers coming on the opening matchday against Lithuania. The last time Luc Holtz’s side were in action in September, they were beaten 3-1 by Serbia. While a win against Portugal is an unlikely scenario, they will at least be hoping to put up a fight and come away with a point.
Ahead of this Group B encounter on Matchday 7 of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Everton midfielder Andre Gomes has been added to the squad following his recent return from an injury layoff. The former Barcelona star replaces William Carvalho, who had to withdraw from the squad due to an injury, along with Rafa Silva.
Veteran defender Pepe is back in the mix after missing the last set of fixtures with an injury. There is a first ever call-up to the national team for Olympiacos defender Ruben Semedo, while Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo does not make the cut. Manager Santos set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation against Lithuania in their last game and is likely to stick with the same shape.
There is no looking past the experienced Rui Patricio in goal for Portugal, while three of the four slots in defence are pretty much locked in, with Ruben Dias, Jose Fonte and Raphael Guerreiro all expected to start. Nelson Semedo, who has been in good form for Barcelona, is in line to start as the right-back on Friday night.
Wolves’ star midfielder Ruben Neves should hold the fort in the middle of the park, with Bruno Fernandes expected to provide the forward thrust alongside him. The third midfield slot, vacant due to Carvalho’s injury, is likely to be taken up by Danilo Pereira.
Up ahead in attack, the deadly trio of Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo pick themselves. In Andre Silva and Goncalo Guedes, the Seleccao have quality options as backup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Semedo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro; Fernandes, Neves, Pereira; Silva, Ronaldo, Felix
Goalkeeper Tim Kips and striker Aurelien Joachim make way for the uncapped duo of Emanuel Cabral and Alessio Curci, respectively in the Luxembourg squad for the upcoming fixtures. Stefano Bensi also gets a call-up in place of the injured Maurice Deville, while midfielder Christopher Martins Pereira misses out with an injury.
The manager has preferred to use the 4-5-1 formation in the Qualifiers and is unlikely to make any changes in Lisbon on Friday. In goal for Luxembourg will be 24-time capped Anthony Moris, who is likely to be in for a busy outing against a dangerous Portugal attack.
The four-man backline for the visitors should comprise of captain Laurent Jans and Dirk Carlson as the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. The duo will be instructed to stay compact at the back and restrict their forward ventures, given the threat Portugal carry from the flanks. Maxime Chanot is likely to partner Lars Gerson at the heart of the defence.
Teenage midfielder Leandro Barreira Martins is expected to sit the deepest in the centre of the park for the Red Lions and look to disrupt Portugal’s rhythm. He will be supported by Olivier Thill and Daniel Sinani in the middle, while the right and left flanks should respectively be occupied by Vincent Thill and Gerson Rodrigues.
With Deville absent, it will be interesting to see who manager Luc Holtz chooses to lead the attack for Luxembourg. 34-year-old Daniel da Mota, who is the most experienced player in the squad with 97 international caps, is an option as is David Turpel, who scored in the defeat against Serbia last month. The former is likely to get the nod on Friday, though.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Moris; Jans, Chanot, Gerson, Carlson; Vincent Thill, Sinani, Barreira, Olivier Thill, Rodrigues; da Mota
- Friday’s match at Lisbon will be 16th meeting between Portugal and Luxembourg. The reigning European champions have one 13 of the previous 15 contests between the two nations, losing just once.
- Portugal’s only defeat to Luxembourg came way back in October 1961. The Seleccao have won 12 of their 13 fixtures against the Red Lions since that loss, drawing the other.
- Portugal have kept a clean sheet in seven of their previous eight matches against Luxembourg. They have scored 29 goals in these games, while conceding just once.
- Luxembourg have just won two of their last ten matches – against San Marino in the UEFA Nations League last year and Lithuania in the Euro 2020 Qualifiers in March. They have managed just a solitary shut-out during this run of fixtures.
- Since their 2018 FIFA World Cup exit, Portugal are unbeaten in twelve matches in a row (W7 D5). Fernando Santos’s men have won all of their last four matches.
Player to Watch
Ronaldo’s form for his club Juventus this season hasn’t been at his usual level, with the 34-year-old scoring four times in eight games across all competitions. However, the previous international break was quite a fruitful one for Portugal’s talismanic captain.
Ronaldo netted once in the 4-2 win against Serbia, before single-handedly demolishing Lithuania, as he plundered four goals in the 5-1 triumph, taking his goal tally for the national team to 93. Coming up against a Luxembourg defence that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since October last year, the 34-year-old will be licking his lips to take the field on Friday night.
Portugal 4-1 Luxembourg
After a slow start to their qualifying campaign, Portugal gathered steam over the last international break and will look to continue in the same vein against a Luxembourg side that has won just once in five games in Group B. The Seleccao scored nine goals in their last two fixtures and there is a strong possibility of another goal-fest in Lisbon on Friday. Expect a comfortable win for the hosts.