Portugal kickstart their international window on Saturday as they welcome World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar in Alguacil.

Ahead of an important World Cup qualifying match against Luxembourg, Portugal are hoping to kickstart their international window on a strong note as they take on WC hosts Qatar at Estadio Algarve in Alguacil.

The two teams had met last September in Debrecen, Hungary, where Portugal had come out 3-1 victors. Fernando Santos’ men are hoping for a similar result that will certainly lift the confidence in the camp before they welcome Luxembourg on Tuesday.

The 2016 European champions are currently placed second behind France in their WC qualifying table, with Santos knowing the fact that finishing first could be crucial, as it will provide them with a direct ticket to Qatar.

Speaking of which, the Gulf country has evidently improved their football over the past couple of years, thanks to multiple sports projects popping up all over the state as well as the prospect of hosting the World Cup next year.

Qatar even notably reached the semi-final of the Gold Cup earlier in the summer while also showcasing a tad bit of resilience in the last fixture with Portugal. They will be hoping for a similar performance this time around, and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at their chances ahead of this international friendly in Alguacil this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Portugal

Given the unimportant nature of this game, Fernando Santos is likely to use the opportunity to play some of the lesser-used stars in his team while resting key players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo.

Starting with the defence, right-back Diogo Dalot may have an ideal opportunity to make an impression in this international break, as Raphael Guerreiro’s injury makes Cancelo the first-choice fit at left-back. The said injury should also guarantee a place in the starting eleven for Nuno Mendes, with Cancelo likely to be rested for now.

Jose Fonte could be given an opportunity to start at centre-back as well, ahead of Ruben Dias. The ageing duo of him and Pepe will look to keep the Qatari attack quiet, providing cover for goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

In midfield, Joao Mario might get a deserved start in light of his recent performances at Benfica. He is likely to be partnered by Joao Moutinho and Bruno Fernandes, who is set to operate in a more advanced role.

Things get even more interesting in the attacking department, where Andre Silva is likely to step in ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Goncalo Guedes and Diogo Jota are set to offer him the offensive support from the wider position, though Santos also has the option of deploying Rafa Silva and Rafael Leao.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lopes; Dalot, Fonte, Pepe, Mendes; Mario, Moutinho, Fernandes; Jota, Silva, Guedes

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Qatar

Under the leadership of Felix Sanchez, Qatar have become feisty underdogs. They can be defensively resilient while packing quite a punch on the counter and set pieces.

Judging by their tactics in the same fixture last month, Qatar employed a back five to better outnumber the Portuguese attackers, though it is also the go-to system for Sanchez. Nevertheless, their primary gameplan will be to defend deep and attack the opposition on the counter.

The offensive duo of Almoez Ali and Akram Akif pack quite a punch. They can be particularly dangerous in a break while also having the work ethic to close down the rather slow Portuguese centre-backs.

Portugal may also need to be careful of the set-pieces from the visitors, with defender Abdelkarim Hassan finding the back of the net from a corner when these two teams last faced each other.

The 28-year-old will once again be a part of the Qatar back-five this weekend, as they look to keep the opposition attack quiet while using the creative brilliance of the legendary Hasan Al-Haydos to nick a goal or two.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Y.Hassan; Miguel, Al-Rawi, Khoukhi, Hassan, Ahmed; Hatem, Al-Haydos, Boudiaf; Akif, Ali

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Key Stats

  • The September friendly in Hungary was the first game between these two nations in international football.
  • Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with a brace against Ireland last month, became the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football with 111 goals.
  • None of the 25 players in the Qatar squad play their football in Europe.
  • Portugal have only kept one clean sheet in their last six matches, after managing three back to back clean sheets.
  • Qatar have scored two or more goals in four of their last eight matches, but the four times they have failed to do so have come in their last four consecutive games.

Player to Watch

Goncalo Guedes

Will Guedes be the 'next Cristiano Ronaldo' for Manchester United?(Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Can Guedes continue his good run of form? (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Among all the talent Portugal have in store, it is Goncalo Guedes who might be the most exciting player heading into this game. The former SL Benfica prodigy, once considered as a potential long-term heir of Cristiano Ronaldo, is having a redemption at Sevilla this year after a difficult couple of years.

The winger has been involved in four goals in eight league matches so far, becoming one of Sevilla’s key figures going forward. From a tactical perspective, Guedes’ ability to provide excellent crosses into the box could be extremely useful for Portugal, especially with the prolific Andre Silva leading the line, thus making the 24-year-old the one player worth keeping an eye on this weekend.

Prediction

Portugal 2-0 Qatar

This should be a straightforward game for Portugal despite the fact that coach Fernando Santos is likely to field a weaker eleven. In fact, some of the lesser-used members of the squad are actually in a better form, as the likes of Guedes and Silva look to make their presence felt on the international stage.

Qatar, on the other hand, might find it difficult to provide any threat going forward, especially with Pepe and Fonte guarding the Portuguese backline. We are predicting a 2-0 victory for the hosts this weekend.

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