Portugal will look to seal their place in next year’s European Championship when they go head to head against Luxembourg at Stade Josy Barthel tomorrow.
Portugal went one step closer to securing qualification to the main stage of the 2020 European Championship when they thrashed Lithuania 6-0 in midweek. Now, they need only one point against Luxembourg to qualify if Serbia loses, though collecting all three points would be ideal.
Serbia is currently standing third in the table, just one point behind second-placed Portugal. That means the Selecção das Quinas could run the risk of missing out on qualification should they fail to win against Luxembourg while the Serbians succeed against Ukraine on the same day.
As for Luxembourg themselves, they are the second-worst team in the group, having accumulated only four points from their seven games so far. But in hindsight, it is probably an impressive result given the lack of quality in their squad. And with nothing to lose, they will try their best to stop the 2016 European champions from directly entering into the main stage of the competition.
Here at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up at Stade Josy Barthel tomorrow.
Tactics & Team News
Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz will be boosted by the return of crucial midfielder Leandro Barreiro. He could play a crucial role alongside Olivier Thill in central midfield. They will mainly be tasked with the responsibility of cutting off Portugal’s passing lines in the centre of the park.
Holtz, meanwhile, is guaranteed to employ a deep defensive block for obvious reasons. The objective will be to isolate the Portuguese attackers with their tight marking and rigid shape, offering them as little space as possible.
That’s where the likes of Lars Gerson, Maxime Chanot and captain Laurent Jans could play a critical role. The defensive trio will sit deep and contain the pressure from their opponents.
As for the two wingers in Maurice Deville and Gerson Rodrigues will likely be advised to operate in a deeper role, providing additional defensive cover for the fullbacks.
And finally, the Luxembourg attack could be led by Dave Turpel, who might deputise for the suspended Vincent Thill. The forward must take full use of his chances this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Moris; Jans, Chanot, Gerson, Carlson; Philipps; Deville, Barreiro, Thill, Rodrigues; Turpel.
After a 6-0 rout over Lithuania in midweek, it won’t be surprising to see Fernando Santos making a few changes to his starting eleven. However, given the importance of this game, he could retain the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Goncalo Paciencia in the attack.
Raphael Guerreiro could be given the nod ahead of Pizzi. The Borussia Dortmund star may feature in a number ten role, with Bernardo Silva operating as a right-winger. Ronaldo, meanwhile, will be deployed on the opposite flank, although he is likely to move into a more central role.
No changes are expected to be made in the defensive department, with Jose Fonte partnering Ruben Dias at the heart of the four-man backline. They simply can’t afford to make a defensive error in this crucial fixture. They will be supported by the wide defensive duo of Mario Rui and Ricardo Pereira.
In midfield, the experienced figure of Joao Moutinho could be preferred ahead of his Wolverhampton teammate Ruben Neves. Moutinho is likely to be partnered by Bruno Fernandes, who will retain his place in the double-pivot in midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Patricio; Pereira, Fonte, Dias, Rui; Moutinho, Fernandes; Silva, Guerreiro, Ronaldo, Paciencia.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 98 goals for Portugal in 163 games, including 13 in his last seven. Only Iran’s Ali Daei has scored more international goals, with 109.
- Portugal have lost just three of their last 37 matches, winning 22.
- Seventeen of Portugal’s last 22 goals have been scored in the second half.
- Luxembourg are on a six-match losing streak, their worst sequence since a run of seven defeats in 2015–16.
- Luxembourg have scored in each of their four previous home games in 2019.
- Luxembourg are on four points, their end tally for both of their past two EURO qualifying campaigns.
Player to Watch
Paciencia has become one of the most sought-after strikers in the Bundesliga following an excellent start to the season. The forward had initially endured a difficult start to his spell at Eintracht Frankfurt last season but has now hit the ground running, having already netted nine goals in all competitions.
The 25-year-old was rewarded with a maiden call-up to the national team this week, and he made quite an impression too, notably scoring the fourth goal in the 6-0 win over Lithuania on Thursday. He is once again expected to play a key role here.
Paciencia’s physicality and aggression would combine well with the athleticism of Ronaldo and the creativity of players like Guerreiro and Silva. Therefore, the Luxembourg defenders must keep an eye on this talismanic forward this weekend.
Luxembourg 0-3 Portugal
Portugal will be full of confidence after a positive result in midweek, despite the fact that they have Euro 2020 qualification on the line. They have an excellent mix of talent and experience, which is led by the mercurial figure of Ronaldo, fresh from scoring a hat-trick in midweek. Hence, we expect the visitors to seal three points tomorrow easily.