Portugal will be aiming to move to the top of Group A in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers when they take on Luxembourg at Estadio Algarve on Tuesday night.

Portugal will be aiming to make it five wins in a row when they lock horns with minnows Luxembourg in a FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier Group A encounter on Tuesday night at Estadio Algarve.

Portugal are currently second in Group A, a point behind leaders Serbia, but with a game in hand, that gives them with a chance to get back on top if they continue on their unbeaten ways in the qualifiers. Indeed, A Selecao have won four and drawn one of their five games in the qualifying encounters and head into Tuesday’s clash on the back of a four-game winning streak including a 3-0 friendly win over Qatar last week.

Luxembourg, meanwhile, are third in the group standings, with six points from five games and with little hope of making it through. Nonetheless, the minnows will be hoping to put up a strong fight and pick up at least a point from their trip to Portugal. The Red Lions are without a victory in their last three fixtures with their most recent one ending in a 1-0 defeat to group leaders Serbia.

The last time these two sides met Portugal came back from a goal down to beat Luxembourg 3-1 with goals coming from Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Palhinha. Ahead of their latest encounter on Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Portugal

Domingos Duarte, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafa Silva withdrew from the squad due to injuries while Francisco Trincao has also been removed from the roster after he tested positive for coronavirus. In addition, Diogo Jota is dealing with a minor issue and might not be risked either. Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for selection after serving out his suspension in the World Cup qualifiers.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos will set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation with Rui Patricio manning the goal. Ruben Dias will line up at the heart of the defence alongside veteran star Pepe while Diogo Dalot and Joao Cancelo slot in as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

There will be wholesale changes in the midfield department as Wolves duo Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho ought to return to the starting XI. The former will sit at the base of the midfield and try to shield the backline while the latter will look to create openings with his incisive passes and set-piece delivery. Bruno Fernandes ought to take up the third slot in the middle of the park.

Ronaldo is a shoo-in in the side, slotting in out wide on the left in order to accommodate Andre Silva in the No. 9 role. Bernardo Silva will take up the right-wing and look to provide the guile and creativity in the final third, although Goncalo Guedes is also an option.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Cancelo; Fernandes, Neves, Moutinho; B. Silva, A. Silva, Ronaldo

Luxembourg

Unlike Portugal, Luxembourg do not have any injury concerns whatsoever and will go into the game with a full-strength squad. Manager Luc Holtz will deploy his team in a 4-4-2 formation with two banks of four sitting deep to try and prevent Portugal from scoring past the goalkeeper, Anthony Moris.

Maxime Chanot and Enes Mahmutovic should be the two centre-backs shielding the goal with support coming from the full-backs who should be Laurent Jans and Mica Pinto. The duo is largely expected to stay tight and compact alongside the central defenders in order to try and deprive the hosts of spaces in the final third.

Christopher Martins Pereira and Leandro Barreira Martins will have the onus of keeping things in check in the middle of the park for Luxembourg. Their primary task will be to try and stifle the influence of someone like Bruno Fernandes. Out wide, Sebastien Thill and Olivier Thill will look to provide the visitors with an outlet in attack but will also needed to put in a lot of defensive work.

Danel Sinani and Gerson Rodrigues, who scored in the reverse fixture against Portugal in March, should form the strike partnership for Luxembourg against Portugal.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Moris; Jans, Chanot, Mahmutovic, Pinto; S. Thill, Barreira, Martins, O. Thill; Sinani, Rodrigues

Key Stats

  • This will be the 19th meeting between the two nations. Of the previous 18, Portugal have won 16 while Luxembourg have come out on top once (D1).
  • Portugal have won each of their last 11 games against Luxembourg in a row, including a 3-1 triumph earlier this year in the World Cup Qualifiers.
  • Portugal have kept as many as 13 clean sheets in their 18 fixtures againsst Luxembourg.
  • Should he feature on Tuesday, Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio will be making his 100th appearance for his nation.
  • With 8 goals from 38 appearances, Gerson Rodrigues is the leading active goalscorer for Luxembourg.

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Every time Portugal step out on the field, the eyes are one man alone – Cristiano Ronaldo. Each time he dons the colours of the national team, the 36-year-old tends to send a record tumbling. Indeed, during last week’s win over Qatar, when he scored, Ronaldo broke more records, becoming the highest-capped European footballer while also scoring against a 46th different opponent in his career.

Apart from his goals, Ronaldo’s drive, determination and winning mentality play a huge role for Portugal. He will once again be the man that manager Fernando Santos will look up to, to make the difference for his team.

Prediction

Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg

Portugal are on a run of four wins in four currently while Luxembourg have failed to win their last three. Given the gulf of quality between the two squads and the form that Cristiano Ronaldo has been in, anything other than a win for the home team would be a shocker. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 victory for A Selecao.

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