Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal can secure their spot in next year’s European Championship in Germany with a win over Slovakia on Friday.

Portugal are all set to host Slovakia in Matchday 7 of the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers. Both sides will be eager to win for different reasons. The home team will push for all three points as a win will guarantee qualification, while the visitors will look to strengthen their position in Group J.

Portugal have been in sensational form under the guidance of new manager Roberto Martinez. They have won each of their six qualification matches and sit at the top of the points table comfortably. The home team have scored 24 goals in six outings and have not conceded yet.

Their last outing was a historic 9-0 win over Luxembourg. Martinez’s men were absolutely dominant on the day, and they managed to ease past the opposition. They will look to make it seven wins in a row in the qualifiers when they play host to Slovakia.

Meanwhile, the visitors are currently second in Group J of the European qualifiers. They have won four out of their six outings. Their only defeat in the ongoing qualification campaign came against Portugal in the last international break back in September.

They are heading into this fixture on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win over Liechtenstein. Slovakia will push for all three points as a win against the table toppers will help them get closer to qualification.

The last meeting between the two teams ended 1-0 in favour of the home team. It was not their best-ever performance and the home team will surely look for a more dominant display. Meanwhile, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics they could use.

Team News & Tactics

Portugal

Roberto Martinez has called up all big names for this international break as he looks to keep his winning streak alive. The former Belgium head coach could go ahead with the 4-2-3-1 formation in this fixture.

In goal will be Diogo Costa, whereas the full-backs will be Diogo Dalot and Joao Cancelo. The duo will look to join the attack and cause problems for the opposition’s wide players. Antonio Silva will pair up with Ruben Dias in the heart of the defence.

Joao Palhinha and Vitinha will form the double pivot in the centre of the park. The duo will look to dictate the face of this game and ensure they have a rock-solid foundation. Manchester United skipper Bruno Fernandes will be the attacking midfielder.

He will have the support of Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota who will start out wide on the flanks. Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo will start up top as the striker. The Portuguese skipper will look to add goals to his tally during this international break after having failed to do so back in September.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Diogo Costa; Dalot, Antonio Silva, Dias, Cancelo; Vitinha, Palhinha; Bernardo Silva, Fernandes, Jota; Ronaldo

Portugal vs Slovakia Predicted XI

Slovakia

The visitors will look to avenge the loss from their last outing against Portugal. Francesco Calzona will field the strongest possible XI to take down a star-studded home team. Calzona will go ahead with the 4-3-3 formation, where Martin Dubravka will be in goal.

Michal Tomic and David Hancko will start out wide in defence as the full-backs. They will look to support Milan Skriniar and Norbert Gyomber who will feature in the heart of the defence. Stanislav Lobotka will feature as the holding midfielder. He will start alongside Ondrej Duda and Laszlo Benes who will feature in a bit more attacking roles.

In attack, Robert Bozenik will be leading the line, while Robert Mak and Lukas Haraslin will start out wide as the wingers. The duo will look to stretch the opposition defence and utilise the space left by the opposition’s full-backs.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Tomic, Gyomber, Skriniar, Hancko; Duda, Lobotka, Benes; Mak, Bozenik, Haraslin

Portugal vs Slovakia Predicted XI

Key Stats

  • Portugal and Slovakia have squared up against each other on five occasions in all competitions. The home team have been unbeaten so far.
  • Ronaldo’s team have won four out of those five meetings. Their last outing against Slovakia was a 1-0 win.
  • The home team have the best attacking record in the qualifiers thanks to 24 goals in six outings.
  • Portugal have not conceded even one goal so far in the qualifiers.
  • Slovakia have won both their away games so far in the qualifying campaign. They will look to make it three in a row against Portugal.

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Embed from Getty Images

Ronaldo has been on fire in the 2023/24 season for Saudi Pro League club Al-Nassr. The Portuguese skipper has 17 goal contributions in his 11 outings this season. He has been scoring goals for fun and is expected to start against Slovakia after having missed their last outing due to suspension.

The former Manchester United forward did not have much fun in their last round of matches in September. He featured against Slovakia but failed to fire. However, given his recent form, he could end up being the difference between the two teams.

Prediction

Portugal 3-0 Slovakia

Portugal managed to keep a clean sheet and win 1-0 against Slovakia in the last meeting between the two teams. Post that, they went on and thrashed Luxembourg 9-0. Martinez’s team will be high on confidence heading into this match, and they will hope to put up an even better show this time out.

While Slovakia have had a decent campaign so far, they might not have enough in their tank to get past the home team. The Hard Tackle predicts an easy 3-0 win for the home team.

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