Portugal and Spain will go head to head in a friendly on Wednesday at Estadio Jose Alvalade before they resume their UEFA Nations League campaign this week.
Following a dramatic and rather hectic month of club footballing action, the international break is not favoured by many, especially for the big clubs, who are running the risk of getting their key players injured, in what was already been an eventful 2020/21 campaign.
However, on Wednesday, fans will be treated with an exotic match-up as Portugal lock horns with Spain in an international friendly, at Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. Both teams are due to restart their UEFA Nations League campaign so this is a fixture they can do without.
That said, it will provide an opportunity for both these national sides to test some of the less important members of the team before they lock horns with France and Switzerland, respectively.
Spain, in particular, are in a delicate situation, having been drawn alongside teams like Germany and Switzerland in their group. So head coach Luis Enrique’s men will be looking to use this game as a confidence booster, before bracing themselves for two tough games against Switzerland and Ukraine.
Portugal, meanwhile, are sitting pretty at the top of their group with two wins in two. However, a tricky test against France on Sunday means they must get their plan sorted out and this friendly against Spain should help head coach Fernando Santos figure out the right combination. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at both these sides ahead of their fascinating encounter this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
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Fernando Santos has called up several interesting players for this international break, including Daniel Podence, Trincao and Ruben Semedo. Podence, in particular, could make his national team debut, with Cristiano Ronaldo likely to be rested for the important clash against France on Sunday.
Portugal primarily like to play with a 4-3-3 so we might see Joao Felix and the in-form Diogo Jota, although Santos does have other options including Trincao, Rafa Silva and Bernardo Silva.
Bruno Fernandes is pretty much a guaranteed starter in the advanced midfield role. The Manchester United star will be in charge of providing that creative essence in the final third. He is set to be supported by Joao Moutinho, with Danilo Pereira, who has just earned a move to PSG, operating as the number six.
In defence, Santos might prefer some young blood, with Ruben Dias, in particular, operating at the heart of the four-man backline. The new Manchester City signing should operate alongside Ruben Semedo, who is another player tipped to make his Portugal debut this week.
Out wide, Nelson Semedo and Raphael Guerreiro are likely to occupy the full-back positions, with Rui Patricio starting in goal, ahead of Anthony Lopes.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Semedo, Dias, Semedo, Guerreiro; Pereira, Moutinho, Fernandes; Podence, Felix, Jota
Much like Fernando Santos, Luis Enrique has used this opportunity to call up some new players including Adama Traore while Dani Ceballos finds himself back into the Spain fold following his impressive performances at Arsenal.
The Real Madrid loanee could even get an opportunity in the starting lineup, operating in the three-man midfield setup consisting of him, Fabian Ruiz and Rodri, with Sergio Busquets set to receive a breather following a strenuous 1-1 draw with Sevilla.
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Similarly, Sergio Reguilon is unlikely to feature in defence due to Tottenham’s tough run of fixtures this season. It should pave the way for Jose Gaya to feature at left-back, with Jesus Navas operating on the opposite flank.
Sergio Ramos and Pau Torres are expected to form the central defensive combination that should provide cover for goalkeeper David de Gea, who is in need of a confidence-boosting performance following Manchester United’s disastrous 6-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham this past weekend.
Finally, in attack, we are expecting Adama Traore to make his Spain debut, despite being called up for Malian national team. He and Ansu Fati should occupy the wider attacking positions, with Rodrigo Moreno spearheading the Spanish attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Navas, Ramos, Torres, Gaya; Rodri, Ceballos, Ruiz; Traore, Rodrigo, Fati
- Spain hold the clear advantage after 36 meetings with Portugal, winning 17 games while losing only six. 13 games ended in draws.
- These teams most recently met in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, drawing 3-3 in a game that saw Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous hat-trick being cancelled by a brace from Diego Costa and a goal from Nacho.
- Spain are unbeaten in their last ten matches, winning seven and drawing three across all competitions.
- Portugal, on the other hand, have lost one but won nine of their last ten matches across all competitions.
Player to Watch
Fans will be excited to see Adama Traore donning the Spanish kit for the first time, but it is Ansu Fati who is set to steal the limelight following an incredible start to the 2020/21 La Liga campaign.
Indeed, the 17-year-old has emerged as one of Barcelona’s most important attackers, forming a stellar combination with Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho. His qualities will now be put to the test at a higher level of football as he looks forward to making his third appearance for La Roja.
Fati’s ability to drift past defenders using his pace could be important in unlocking the Portuguese defence. But more importantly, it will be interesting to see how he fares against his former Barcelona teammate Nelson Semedo on the left flank this midweek.
Portugal 2-3 Spain
This is a tough game to predict as both sides have fared exceptionally well at the international stage over the past couple of years. However, we are sure to expect goals in this one, with Spain likely to seal a narrow victory due to their coherent midfield unit while the likely absence of Ronaldo could also play a key role.