How Portugal Have Lined Up Recently
Fernando Santos’ side have lined up in a 4-3-3 formation for the majority of their matches this year and looks likely to retain that in the World Cup as well. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo will obviously be at the centre of things, looking to add more goals to his World Cup tally in what is likely to be his final edition as well. With Diogo Jota injured, Rafael Leao is likely to take the left-wing role, while FC Porto’s Otavio takes up the other side.
Portugal Recent Form and Tactics
Portugal are normally quite pragmatic with their approach in games, as they opt to maintain a deep, sturdy defensive line before breaking through in counter-attacks. However, against Ghana, Santos should allow his side to go all guns blazing in their attacking style as they need a big win to improve their chances of winning Group H.
Portugal opts to play through the wings, swinging in inviting crosses for Ronaldo or the marauding midfielders in Fernandes or Silva to pounce. With their wing-backs coming high up, it also gives their wingers more space to move into central areas – with the full-backs often cutting their passes inwards to find bodies at the edge of the box. They also have a major threat in set-pieces, having enough players able to whip in inviting crosses to some of their towering players to latch onto.
Fernando Santos’ side heads into the World Cup in topsy-turvy form. They have won three out of their last five matches, losing the remaining ones. It remains to be seen if Ronaldo’s explosive interview before the World Cup has any effect on the mentality of the players, but Santos is unlikely to let that play a part in how his team functions in the upcoming games.
Portugal Injuries to Consider
The biggest blow for Portugal before the World Cup was to see their prolific forward Diogo Jota get ruled out of the competition after suffering a nasty calf injury at the beginning of the domestic season. Wolves winger Pedro Neto was not eligible to pick because of injury, while Leicester City right-back Ricardo Pereira also missed out on selection. Ronaldo was absent from Portugal’s 4-0 win over Nigeria in a pre-World Cup warm-up game, but should recover in time for the game against Ghana.
Portugal Predicted Lineup
Diogo Costa, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Neves, Pepe, Nuno Mendes, Danilo Pereira, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Otavio, Rafael Leao, Cristiano Ronaldo
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