Portugal are one step away from finishing their group with a 100% record as they take on Iceland, who have no chance of making it through from here.
Many had criticised Portugal’s decision to appoint Roberto Martinez as Fernando Santos’s successor after their collective failure at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Even Martinez achieved little with the ‘Belgian Golden Generation’, which sparked questions about whether he was the right choice to lead Portugal, who face Iceland this week.
The Spaniard has made a stellar impression on those questioning his appointment, a 100% record in Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign. On top of that, he has made this team a prolific unit, having scored 34 times in seven games in this group.
A nona vitória ✅
The ninth win ✅ pic.twitter.com/jn2Ql8Hdns
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 16, 2023
They are one step away from finishing this campaign with a 100% record and adding to their tally even more. Earlier in the week, they brushed aside Liechtenstein with a surprising 2-0 win, given they were expected to score more. Portugal have guaranteed a place in pot 1 of the pick and will look forward to maintaining their run here in this group.
Contrastingly, Iceland sealed their fate after another morale-sapping loss, this time to Slovakia, which effectively killed all remaining hopes. Since breaking into the European scene at UEFA Euro 2016, the islanders have struggled for relevance in subsequent tournaments.
Despite being a point ahead of Bosnia, they do not have a playoff spot, although there is still some hope to qualify through the Nations League Group B, which, in truth, seems improbable at this stage. Overall, there is nothing left to play for apart from pride for the Icelanders, and they must make the best of this game to build confidence for their next stage.
Team News & Tactics
Roberto Martinez will take this opportunity to make further changes to his lineup and offer his fringe stars a chance to shine. Changes are afoot at the back, with Diogo Costa likely to replace Jose Sa between the sticks. The manager will also look to play a different system, reverting to a 4-3-3 to mirror Iceland’s formation.
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 16, 2023
Joao Cancelo will be the only player in the backline to retain his place, with Martinez set to start with a back four comprising Raphael Guerreiro, Goncalo Inacio and Ruben Dias alongside the Barcelona star.
Bruno Fernandes played a more profound role in the previous game, and he could move forward as this time, he will have the support and defensive protection of Joao Palhinha. Bernardo Silva will assume the floating role in midfield, which, on paper, looks solid.
Martinez will bring Joao Felix back into the mix and use him in one of the wide attacking areas. Diogo Jota should continue to keep his place alongside captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who will undoubtedly lead the line for Portugal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Costa; Cancelo, Inacio, Dias, Guerreiro; Fernandes, Palhinha, B Silva; Felix, Ronaldo, Jota
Iceland will be without Amor Traustason for this clash after he was forced off with an injury against Slovakia in the first half of that encounter. Aron Gunnarsson could be his replacement in the lineup against Portugal.
Beyond that, no changes are expected from Iceland, as the manager will look to name an unchanged lineup. Gunnarsson will take the midfield spot and play in a double-pivot alongside Kristian Hlynsson.
Genoa star Albert Gudmundsson will occupy a role in the midfield three but play the most advanced position in the side, as he will be tasked with the creative duty in this setup. Orri Oskarsson will continue to lead the line for the Icelanders, with the support of Willum Willumsson and Arnor Sigurdsson on either side of the front three.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Olafsson; Sampsted, Palsson, Ingason, Finnsson; Hlynsson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson; A Gudjohnsen, Oskarsson, A Sigurdsson
- Iceland have made it to only one European Championship before in 2016.
- Iceland have three wins, one draw and five losses from their nine matches.
- Iceland can still qualify for the finals through the UEFA Nations League B playoff path.
- Portugal have won all their qualifying games so far.
- Portugal have scored an astonishing 34 goals and conceded 2 goals.
Player to Watch
Never in the history of football has it ever happened that a player who is about to be 39 soon compete with the best talent of next generation. 🤯🐐 pic.twitter.com/slwdLBcS7d
— TCR. (@TeamCRonaldo) November 17, 2023
Once again, Ronaldo made his mark with a goal against Liechtenstein the other night and will want to keep playing for the national side when they host Iceland. There is a lot of chatter around the legendary forward. But he has maintained his levels with club and country.
He has another opportunity to improve his tally for Portugal, and this Iceland game will have him under the spotlight. Ronaldo will continue in his quest to defy claims of ageing and keep performing with the sole aim of succeeding for club and country, especially at the Euros.
Portugal 3-0 Iceland
The Icelanders are coming into this clash in utter disappointment, having lost their natural chance to qualify for the Euros. They still have that slim chance through that Nations League Group B place. But overall, they may need more morale to get a result in Portugal.
Roberto Martinez is only starting to build momentum in this team and will have been utterly pleased by what he has seen. This game against Iceland represents another opportunity to strengthen themselves, and Portugal are expected to put in another commanding performance here.