Portugal will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Luxembourg in their third 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers fixture this week.
The final set of fixtures of the ongoing international break will be played out this week and Portugal will be in action at Stade Josy Barthel where they face off against Luxembourg in a Group A clash in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers on Tuesday.
Luxembourg began their international break with a friendly against the upcoming World Cup hosts Qatar last week and lost 1-0. However, they followed that up with a 1-0 upset win over the Republic of Ireland in their first World Cup qualifying game this past weekend and are currently third in the table, just a point off of leaders Serbia.
Portugal, meanwhile, were made to work hard by Azerbaijan as they eked out a narrow win but were held to a 2-2 draw by Serbia, although they were hard done by a mistake by the referee which ended up costing them the game. The Seleccao are second in Group A, level on points with Serbia, and will be hoping to return to winning ways on Tuesday.
The last time these two sides faced each other in November 2019, Portugal beat Luxembourg 2-0 with goals coming from Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo. And ahead of their latest meeting this midweek, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
— European Qualifiers (@EURO2020) March 27, 2021
Luxembourg manager Luc Holtz has no injury or suspension concerns to contend with as his side prepares to host Portugal this week. Having earned a win over Ireland at the weekend, the manager is expected to stick with the same personnel and the 4-1-4-1 setup when Cristiano Ronaldo & co. come into town.
Anthony Moris will be the man in goal for the home team where he could be in for a busy outing. He will need all the protection he can get from the backline comprising of Maxime Chanot and Enes Mahmutovic at centre-back with Marvin Martins da Graca and Laurent Jans at full-back, with the duo likely to refrain from making forward runs and stay compact at the back.
Christopher Martins Pereira will anchor the midfield for Holtz’s side and look to disrupt Portugal’s gameplay and rhythm in the centre of the park. Olivier Thill and Leandro Barreiro Martins will take up slightly advanced positions in the middle, although with Portugal likely to dominate possession, the duo will look to sit behind the ball and provide defensive support.
Vincent Thill and Gerson Rodrigues, who scored the only goal of the game against Ireland last time out, will carry a major threat from the wide areas. Danel Sinani will offer a focal point at the top for the Red Lions.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Moris; da Graca, Chanot, Mahmutovic, Jans; Pereira; V. Thill, O. Thill, Barreiro, Rodrigues; Sinani
Heading into the game, Fernando Santos has no fresh concerns, although Bruno Fernandes will miss out due to suspension after he picked up another yellow card against Serbia while Joao Moutinho is an injury doubt. There are likely to be changes made to the side that started the last game.
🟨 vs Azerbaijan (45 mins played)
🟨 vs Serbia (90 mins)
🚫 Bruno Fernandes is suspended for Portugal's game with Luxembourg on Tuesday
👀 He will now have his biggest break between matches since November (7 days) pic.twitter.com/AFhRvWmvT4
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 29, 2021
No alterations are expected in goal, however, with Anthony Lopes likely to continue. Domingos Duarte should return at the heart of the defence to partner Ruben Dias with Jose Fonte dropping out. Youngster Nuno Mendes should also return at left-back while Cedric Soares continues on the right allowing rest for Joao Cancelo who started both the matches so far.
Danilo Pereira should hold the fort in the middle of the park and provide a screen to the Portugal defence, breaking up any threat on the counter from the hosts. Ruben Neves should return to the side in midfield while Renato Sanches could be in line for a rare start as well, with the onus of providing the forward thrust from the centre being on him.
Joao Felix hasn’t had much of an opportunity so far and should be in line for a start on the right flank while Diogo Jota, who scored a double against Serbia, should hold on to his place on the left. Spearheading the attack for Portugal will be captain and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lopes; Cedric, Duarte, Dias, Mendes; Sanches, Pereira, Neves; Felix, Ronaldo, Jota
- This will be the 18th meeting between Portugal and Luxembourg. Of the previous 17 encounters, the former have won 15 while the latter have picked up just one win (D1).
- Portugal are unbeaten in their last 15 games against Luxembourg, winning 14 of those (D1).
- The Seleccao have managed to keep a clean sheet in 12 out of their last 15 meetings vs Luxembourg, not conceding a goal in each of their last four matches.
- Portugal have lost just one of their last ten matches, including friendlies (W6 D3). They are currently on a three-game unbeaten run.
- Luxembourg, meanwhile, have won just one of their last five games (D1 L3), although that victory came in their latest fixture against the Republic of Ireland.
Player to Watch
Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the pitch before the final whistle at the end of the Serbia-Portugal game, and threw his captain's armband in frustration. pic.twitter.com/I2i9uwkPhM
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 27, 2021
The 36-year-old Portugal captain cut a frustrated figure last time out against Serbia as his goal was disallowed late in the game, which ended up costing his side the win. The way he reacted after the final whistle, throwing the captain’s armband on the pitch and walking off, has attracted criticism from many quarters.
And while manager Fernando Santos has stuck by him as the skipper, Ronaldo must now focus on diverting the attention back to his game. As mentioned previously, the Juventus superstar was on target when these two teams met last time.
And even though he hasn’t looked at his best in the last two games, Ronaldo has the ability to strike back hard especially when the chips are down. Expect Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer to make a telling impact against Luxembourg this Tuesday.
Luxembourg 0-2 Portugal
Irrespective of the referee’s call, Portugal took their eyes off the ball in the second half against Serbia and were duly punished. Nevertheless, they showed in the first period how dangerous they can be going in attack. And even though Luxembourg showed great fight to win against Ireland last time out, there is just way too much quality in the Portuguese ranks. The Hard Tackle, thus predicts a 2-0 win for the Seleccao.