Posts Tagged ‘World cup Qualifying’

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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Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Paulo Bento’s Portugal squad went into Wednesday’s friendly against Holland with a renewed sense of optimistic after an important win against Russia in World Cup qualifying in June.

The squad was missing some familiar faces with Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles all withdrawing due to injuries. Manager Paulo Bento fielded a makeshift midfield that included Miguel Veloso, Ruben Amorim and Ruben Micael.

Luis Neto started in place of Bruno Alves who would come into the match as a late substitute. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Danny started on the wing, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and striker Helder Postiga. Beto also started in goal instead of Rui Patricio.

The match began brightly for the Oranje, with Louis van Gaal’s squad getting the better opportunities in the opening minutes.

In the 17th minute, Dynamo Kyiv winger Jeremain Lens would find AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman just outside the box. Strootman delivered a world-class strike which beat Beto.

Portugal would counter with a few opportunities of their own. Ruben Micael had the best opportunity before the half striking a good opportunity inside the box just wide of the goal.

Olympiakos midfielder Paulo Machado would replace Ruben Micael at half-time. The change gave the Seleção a determination not seen in the first-half. The squad dominated in terms of possession and chances in the second half.

They were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 87th minute when Pepe deflected a Miguel Veloso corner kick in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a clinical finish, giving Portugal a well-deserved draw.

The match was not the best news that Portuguese fans received on Wednesday. Northern Ireland beat Russia 1-0 in a group F World Cup qualifying match. The result means that Portugal remains in first place with three matches left.

The Seleção will face Northern Ireland in Belfast on September 6th.

Video:

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Tying Goal Against Holland

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