This weekend will see another round of exciting encounters in the ongoing Euro 2020 tournament as defending champions Portugal take on Germany. Cristiano Ronaldo’s team currently sit at the top of the table with their 3-0 victory over Hungary, while the Germans had suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of World Champions France. The Selecao will be keen to confirm their knockout berth on Saturday as they would like to avoid a showdown with France, while the Germans are desperately in search of a win to survive the Group of Death.
Here’s our preview of Saturday’s fixture between Portugal and Germany:
The Selecao began their title defence on a strong note as they crushed Hungary 3-0 on Tuesday. Raphael Guerreiro starred for the side in the closing stages of the match, while Cristiano Ronaldo extended the lead with two goals in the span of five minutes. But Fernando Santos has plenty to work on as his attacking unit struggled to find breakthroughs against a mediocre Hungarian defensive unit – and the Germans have a much stronger midfield. Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva have been lacklustre with their performances, and they need to step up their game against former champions Germany and France.
Fernando Santos is unlikely to deviate from the 4-2-3-1 formation he used against Hungary. With the youthfulness of Diogo Jota at the centre, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva have been able to effectively attack from the sides. But all three of the Selecao’s goals in Tuesday’s fixture have come after Andre Silva has come into the field, and he can become Santos’ surprise card if the need arises. Joao Felix might be considered if Diogo Jota fails to deliver even in the second fixture.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the all time top-scorer in European Championship history as his late double took him to 11 goals, the only player to score 10+ goals in the competition.
Joachim Low’s strategy against France failed to pay off as the World Champions looked comfortable throughout the night in their 1-0 victory against Die Mannschaft. But the Germans have not crumbled similar to their performance in the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain. In fact, the only goal of the night came from veteran defender Mats Hummels’ own goal early in the game. Serge Gnabry and his attacking unit failed to bridge the gap, which shows the vulnerability in the German side – score early and the game is almost decided.
Despite the failure of the 3-4-3 formation in the first game, Joachim Low is expected to continue with the same strategy and will hope for a more flawless execution from his players. Portugal’s failure to successfully breach Hungary’s defences through most of the night will surely be under Low’s mind, and he will be more than happy to contain Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota from coming near the goal. Leon Goretzka, Jonas Hofmann and Jamal Musiala have missed the squad on Tuesday with injury concerns, and their recovery will be keenly watched.
With the third spot in knockout stages too uncomfortably tight for Germany, they will be happy to return with a point from the match and seek a better outcome against minnows Hungary.
HEAD TO HEAD
The last encounter between both sides was all the way back in 2014 when a world-beating German team thrashed Portugal 4-0 in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup competition. Die Mannschaft have won four of their last four encounters, but that speaks to an era that is long gone by. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal have completely reinvented themselves since then, and they enter Saturday’s fixture with a seven-match undefeated streak.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The stakes are higher for Germany than for the Selecao, which will push Joachim Low to avoid a loss at all costs. The Germans will be more than happy to go home with a draw, even if that means playing boring football in front of home fans. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s experience along with a young attacking lineup will give Selecao plenty of chances to score. Portugal will look to seal their knockout spot before they face behemoths France next week and enter the most exciting fixture of the tournament in high spirits.
Expect a tightly contested fixture but Portugal will take home three points.
Portugal Predicted XI: Rui Patrício, Nelson Semedo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, William Carvalho, Rafa Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Germany Predicted XI: Manuel Neuer, Matthias Ginter, Mats Hummels, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan, Toni Kroos, Robin Gosens, Kai Havertz, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry.
When: Saturday, 19 June 2021, 9:30 PM IST
Where: Allianz Arena Stadium, Munich.
Where to Watch: All Euro 2020 Matches will be streamed live on Sony Six HD and Sony Liv app.
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