Written by Dan Anjos
Many of us would have expected Portugal to have already guaranteed qualification for the next stage come the 3rd and final game of the group, but the story is very different and things in group F are very open with every team having a chance of qualifying. So with Portugal needing a win to top the group and with Hungary already qualified but wanting to top the group too, what shall we expect from this game?
Over in the Portugal side we should expect a team that is shaped to attack but at the same time to deal with Hungary’s counter attacks that can be lethal as Austria know from their first game. Probably setting up with a 442 with a possibility to change it to a 433. With Rui Patricio being almost a certainty in goal it does give the Portuguese fans some security as he is a very good keeper. The back 4 could change some alternations as Raphael Guerreiro is a doubt with a thigh injury. Meaning either Eliseu or Cedric come in for him. Personally I would rather see Cedric play there as I do not believe Eliseu is no longer good enough to be at the national team and his inclusion is based on the fact that Fabio Coentrao is injured. Ricardo Carvalho, the 38 year old veteran has proved many doubters wrong and I think his experience and positioning is what has made him be one of Portugal’s best performers so far in the tournament. Pepe alongside him is pretty self explaining whilst in the right back area I would like to see Cedric start but with Portugal needing a win and Vierinha being a lot more attacking and having already 2 games behind him it is unlikely he will lose his position.
Moving onto the midfield, is Portugal’s biggest question mark. One of the problems about this National team is the fact our manager has not decided his best midfield is yet. There are many ways he can shape that midfield, with all possible players that were chosen being of very similar quality but with different characteristics. I believe he should start with William Carvalho as our defensive midfielder as he was one of Portugal’s best player last game as well his ability on the ball in comparison to Danilo makes him more effective against teams that are going to be defensive against Portugal. Playing just in front of him should in my eyes be Adrien Silva, the Sporting Lisbon player has had his best season to date as well as being a goalscorer from deep with 9 goals to his name in comparison to Joao Moutinho’s 1 goal. Adrien offers a higher chance of goals which is what Portugal need but at the same time we do lose some creativity but at the same time gain a bit more muscle in midfield in comparison to Moutinho. To the right side of him, Joao Mario has to start he was Sporting’s best player to many and is a creative player that currently is playing his best football too, his ability to create something out of nothing is similar to what Ozil offers to Germany. Obviously Joao Mario is still some quality behind Ozil. 11 assists plus 6 goals indicates why he needs to start today. Plus starting with the leagues most dynamic midfield is not exactly a bad thing and many Portuguese experts have been asking for this midfield all Euro’s. They were the midfield behind Sporting’s best ever points record and average attendance so it does show the quality that these 3 have performed this year. On the left of our midfield is where Andre Gomes has been playing but with him also being doubtful due to a thigh injury, Nani could be dropped into that position to offer some 1 on 1 ability as well as he is a player that can change the game despite not playing at his peak. Another option for that place is Rafa Silva, the Braga man has finally established himself as one of the league’s better players. He offers speed and 1 on 1 ability in the defence to attack transition which is something that Andre Gomes despite all his quality didn’t offer, the ability to break with speed which might allow Ronaldo more space for him to finally score.
Talking about Ronaldo, upfront Quaresma and Ronaldo is almost a certainty. Quaresma is a frustrating player to watch in the sense that once you know how good he can be, you expect it every time and that is when he does not deliver as he is inconsistent. During his youth years he was always seen as a lot more talented than Ronaldo so that is an indication of how good he could have become. With Portugal lacking a good fixed number 9, Quaresma offers the 1 on 1 and creativity as a second striker but normally a winger he does push out wide a lot which means Ronaldo needs to play more fixed in the middle and whoever plays in midfield needs to push up into the box more. Ronaldo? Ronaldo he has been under massive criticism the last week, but all his ex team mates and team mates are backing him to show to everyone today what he is capable of. They know Ronaldo is better than anyone but I personally cannot see Ronaldo having another game where he has 10 shots and does not score a single goal. He is a player that has always had to deal with criticism all his football career whenever he has not turned up but I think we just expect him to do things that no other player apart from Messi can do, 6 years running scoring 50 goals or more just shows how much of a true goalscorer he really is. He is not a fixed striker yet and still likes to play as almost a loose winger with no defensive responsibility but with freedom to roam. But Portugal need him today to be more fixed and score goals today, he has always reiterated that for his career now he needs to win something with Portugal and whilst you feel that is a very hard task, if Portugal top the group today their path to the final theoretically seems easier than if they come 2nd for example. Could this be the year, I doubt it but unless in 2 years Portugal somehow develop a great team this might be his last chance.
Hungary will come with the ambition to cause an upset but I cannot see them attacking us too much but instead hitting us on the counter so it is up to Portuguese players to show their Nation how good they really are and win the 1st place. Vamos Portugal!!!!
What are your predictions for the Portugal vs Hungary game? Let us know in the comments below!