Portugal travel to the Nagyerdei Stadion in Debrecen on Saturday as they lock horns with Qatar in an international friendly on Saturday.

After securing a 2-1 victory over Ireland that helped them remain on top of Group A, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Portugal brace themselves for an international friendly as they take on Qatar on Saturday.

The game will be hosted by Hungary, at the Nagyerdei Stadion in Debrecen, at the same time when other teams in Group A lock horns with each other. Portugal, who failed to live up to the expectations in Euro 2020 will be hoping for second-placed Serbia to drop points when they face Luxembourg.

Anything less than three points for the Serbians will see A Selecao become the favourites to finish the group on top, especially as they are expected to face Azerbaijan in the next game.

Incidentally, Portugal’s weekend opponent Qatar are coming on the back of a friendly against Serbia, losing 4-0 in Debrecen this midweek. The nation had most recently competed in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the summer, even reaching the semi-final stage before they ultimately lost to eventual champions, the USA.

But after a humiliating defeat to Serbia, the 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation will be hoping to recover their pride with an inspiring performance against the 2016 European champions. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their match-up this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Portugal

The biggest news coming out of the Portugal camp this week is that Cristiano Ronaldo has been released in order to start with preparation with his new club, Manchester United. With the nation’s next opponents being Qatar and Azerbaijan, it does make sense and will allow the impressive Andre Silva to get a rare opportunity to spearhead the attack on Saturday.

Alongside him, Fernando Santos might want to try out the lesser-used players, giving them an opportunity to prove themselves ahead of the game against Azerbaijan. Rafa Silva, for one, didn’t have a great evening against Ireland and might want to prove a point at right-wing, with Goncalo Guedes hoping for a berth on the opposite flank.

In midfield, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva are likely to be given a breather, paving the way for Wolves duo of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves to orchestrate the game for Portugal with their crisp passing.

The presence of Danilo Pereira in the holding midfield role should help them express themselves in the creative department. But the majority of the responsibility should be on the fullbacks in Nelson Semedo and Nuno Mendes as they look to offer the width going forward, allowing the wingers to tuck inside.

And finally, in defence, Santos might want to rest the ageing Pepe. Goncalo Inacio was the obvious favourite to replace the former Real Madrid man but he had to withdraw from the squad due to an injury, which means it is Domingos Duarte who could form the central defensive partnership alongside Ruben Dias, with Diogo Costa starting in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Costa; Semedo, Duarte, Dias, Mendes; Pereira, Neves, Moutinho; Rafa Silva, Andre Silva, Guedes

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Qatar

After being humbled to a 4-0 defeat by Serbia, Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez is likely to opt for an ultra-defensive approach, as they look to avoid another humiliation.

A 5-3-2 formation, therefore, could once again be on the agenda with the fullbacks Pedro Miguel and Abdelkarim Hassan set to offer aid to the central defensive trio of Bassam Al-Rawi, Boualem Khoukhi and Tarek Salman. Their main objective will be to protect Saad Al-Sheed in goal.

Qatar have a relatively younger squad as the footballing culture has only started growing in the gulf country. It plays to their disadvantage as experience is often key when facing a team like Portugal.

But in Hasan Al-Haydos, they have someone who has featured in 132 matches for his country. The 30-year-old is not only expected to captain his team on Saturday but also play a vital role in the creative department, providing support for two central attackers in Almoez Ali and Akram Atif.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Al-Sheeb; Miguel, Al-Rawi, Khoukhi, Salman, Hassan; Madibo, Boudiaf, Al-Haydos; Afif, Ali

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Key Stats

  • This will be the first meeting between Portugal and Qatar in international football.
  • Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with a brace against Ireland, became the all-time leading goalscorer in male’s international football with 111 goals.
  • None of the 25 players in the Qatar squad plays his football in Europe.
  • Portugal have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last four matches, after managing three back to back clean sheets.
  • Qatar have scored two or more goals in four of their last six matches, but the two times they have failed to do so have come in their last two games.

Player to Watch

Andre Silva

AVEIRO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 07: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates with his team mate Andre Silva after scoring his team's fourth goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Portugal and Andorra at Estadio Municipal de Aveiro on October 7, 2016 in Aveiro, Portugal. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Andre Silva will be ready to replace Ronaldo this weekend. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

With Cristiano Ronaldo out of the picture and the likes of Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes unlikely to start, Andre Silva is going to be the focal point of the Portugal attack on Saturday.

The former AC Milan forward has never really been given the chance he deserves in the national team due to the presence of Ronaldo. But with the 36-year-old gearing towards the potential end of his career, someone has to take on the mantle and there are fewer better candidates than Silva, whose astounding goalscoring record speaks for himself.

Silva has scored 16 goals for his country and has lit up the Bundesliga with 41 goals in 60 appearances. This game, therefore, could be important for the RB Leipzig forward as he looks to make a solid impression that could go a long way in helping him start the next game as well.

Prediction

Portugal 3-0 Qatar

Portugal may not field the strongest eleven, but they still have enough quality to overwhelm the Qatar side that simply does not have the pedigree to provide any sort of a fight this weekend. While they might remain defensively resistant, the attacking quality simply isn’t there and any breakthrough could open the floodgates.

As such, we are expecting Portugal to seal a comfortable 3-0 victory, with Andre Silva likely to dominate the proceedings.

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