Posts Tagged ‘Russia 2018’

Fernando Santos Thumbs Up

Portugal manager Fernando Santos announced the squad for upcoming matches against the Faroe Islands (31 August) and Hungary (3 September) on Thursday. Injuries to several players and a suspension to Nélson Semedo has forced the Euro-2016-winning manager to make some notable changes.

Nani was left off because of an injury that has kept him from starting the club season on time. Barcelona right-back Semedo is suspended for the match against Faroe Islands after he was sent off against Mexico at the Confederations Cup in July, while Anthony Lopes was again left out because of personal reasons.

Santos’ decision to call up Fábio Coentrão and Nélson Oliveira caught many people by surprise. Coentrão has been struggling to work himself back to full fitness. A long-term injury to Portugal’s first-choice left-back Raphaël Guerreiro and a relative lack of good options at the position opened up a spot for him. While Oliveira, currently plying his trade in the English second tier with Norwich City, got a call-up as well.

Bruno Varela, Bruma, João Cancelo and João Mário also returned to the fold after missing out on the Confederations Cup this summer. Santos chose 24 players because of injury concerns involving Coentrão and William Carvalho. Santos spoke admirably of FC Porto right-back Ricardo Pereira and Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but both were not chosen.

Portugal remain in second place in group B, three points behind leaders Switzerland. They will face the Faroe Islands in Porto next week and Hungary in Budapest three days later. Looking further ahead, Portugal travel to Andorra for a match on 7 October before returning home to face Switzerland in Lisbon on 10 October.

Santos says Portugal is focused on winning their remaining matches to qualify directly for Russia.

Our objective is to win every match. I believe we will do it. Hungary will be difficult and the Faroe Islands is an opponent we respect. Portugal are the favourites but we need to demonstrate that on the field.

I do not believe Switzerland will drop points. The final match should be the decider.

U21 manager Rui Jorge also announced his selections for Portugal’s first Euro 2019 qualifier against Wales taking place in Chaves on 5 September. A complete list could be found here Click.

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