Fernando Santos’ men beat the Czech Republic 4-0 in their last encounter, while their Iberian counterparts lost their lead at the top with a 2-1 loss to Switzerland.
Not Joao Cancelo? No problem for Portugal. The Manchester City man was forced to watch Saturday’s game with the Czech Republic from a naughty step, but Diogo Dalot did exceptionally well in braces in the 4-0 triumph.
Diogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes also got on the scoresheet as Santos’ side gave themselves the best possible chance of reaching the Nations League final and a chance to claim their second title at the tournament in three years.
With 10 points from a possible 15, the 2018-19 champions have usurped Spain at the top of the table with one game to go, and a draw would be enough for the Selecao to progress to the four-team final, but three points will still be paramount.
The Czech Republic’s failure to find the back of the net on Saturday represented Portugal’s third clean sheet in their last four Nations League appearances and the Selecao conceded just two goals in the entire tournament – the best defensive record of all 16 teams in League A. .
Santos’ side also welcome Spain to their home ground, having won each of their last four home games in all competitions, and have so far failed to win just two of their nine Nations League games in front of their own fans.
Spain’s win over Switzerland would have kept them in the driver’s seat no matter what on matchday five, but the fate of Luis Enrique’s side is now out of their own hands after a surprise 2-1 defeat by the Rossocrociati at the weekend.
Jordi Alba equalized for La Roja after Manuel Akanji’s 21st-minute opener, but Breel Embolo struck not long after the former restored parity for Spain and condemned the hosts to their first home defeat in almost four years.
Enrique – who controversially went without a recognized striker as Alvaro Morata warmed the bench – did not make a statement after the game, claiming his crop had made more mistakes in 90 minutes than in any previous Rojo game in charge.
They are now forced to take a gung-ho approach in their bid to reach the Nations League final, last year’s runners-up in Braza only needing a win, but Alba’s equalizer on Saturday marked at least the 19th straight game in which Spain have had. found the back of the net.
Enrique’s outfit had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Portugal on matchday one, with Ricardo Horta coming up with a late reply to Morata’s opener and the result marked the fourth consecutive stalemate between the two Iberian nations – such a score. would benefit the Selecao more than the visitors here.
Portugal full-back Cancelo will return from suspension for the visit of Spain, but Dalot certainly doesn’t deserve to be dropped after a two-goal matchday performance, so the Man City man could return to the left-back role here.
Mario Rui and Nuno Mendes would then be sent to the bench, although the former assisted Fernandes’ goal on Saturday and Santos also witnessed Cristiano Ronaldo’s face bleed after a clash with Tomáš Vaclík.
The Manchester United veteran could see out the game, but Jota is more than capable of deputizing in the number nine spot after coming off the bench to round off the scoring against the Czechs.
As for Spain, Dani Carvajal and Diego Llorente failed to make the squad for the defeat to Switzerland, with Enrique reportedly leaving both defenders behind due to the fact they would miss the Portugal clash if booked at the weekend.
So a well-rested Carvajal can expect to start on the right for Cesar Azpilicueta and Enrique should certainly consider recalling Morata after Asensio was withdrawn just after the hour mark on Saturday.
Barcelona’s themed midfield of Gavi, Pedri and Sergio Busquets could also fall apart as there has been a quick turnaround as Rodri and Koke return to a refreshed Rojo side.
Portugal possible starting lineup:
Costa; Dalot, Dias, Pereira, Cancelo; Neves, Palhinha, Fernandes; B. Silva, Ronaldo, Leao
Spain possible starting lineup:
Simon; Carvajal, Garcia, Torres, Alba; Koke, Rodri, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Torres
We say: Portugal 2-1 Spain
Spain’s frontline did not cut the mustard against Switzerland, but Enrique’s side always seem to have a knack for scoring goals, and they will be forced to go all out on that front if they are to stand a chance of progressing.
Such an approach will of course leave La Roja vulnerable to Portugal’s pace on the counter, and the Selecao can take advantage to snatch victory and seal their place in the Nations League Finals.