Portugal defeat the Czech Republic in Nations League

Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo
Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo

Today, in a UEFA Nations League A, Group 2 match, at Stadio Jose Alvalade, in Lisbon, the Portuguese National Team defeated its counterpart from the Czech Republic 2-0 with two first-half, goals from the right-wing, both set up by Bernardo Silva—one for Joao Cancelo and one for Goncalo Guedes.

The Portuguese lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation that would mostly devolve to a 4-2-4 with Diogo Jota, Guedes, Silva, and Cristiano Ronaldo up front while William Carvalho and Ruben Neves stayed back to play in front of a defensive line consisting of Pepe and Danilo Perreira in the middle, Cancelo on the right, and Raphael Guerreiro on the left. Other than Ruben Diaz and Joao Felix, out nursing injuries, the team tried out 16 players, making full use of the 5-substitute rule.

Actually, this was a daring line-up for Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, a much more offensive side and one with the talent and teamwork to keep the other side pressured, off their game, and constantly under attack. In fact, Santos should consider using a similarly configured starting eleven from here on in given the many opportunities this mix of stars produced.

Knowing that Spain would come out firing on all cylinders to make up the ground they lost in their two previous draws, the Portuguese put on an attacking and ball possession (64%) show that saw the match played mostly in the Czech half. What was most notable was the fact that despite substituting the entire five-man defense the Portuguese team did not miss a beat. On the other side, the Czechs played tough and had their chances, certainly enough of them to force a draw. Which brings us to the other notable aspect of the match. Portugal is still vulnerable on defense and badly misses Ruben Diaz.

In other Nations League action, Spain held on to their 13th-minute lead and made Pablo Sarabia’s tally earn them a 1-0 away win to Switzerland in Stade de Geneve, Geneva. Despite enjoying 66% of possession the Spaniards were unable to obtain more than three shots on goal and were fortunate to score at all. Spain’s coach, Luis Enrique, still feels like tinkering with the starting line-up but he also gave some expected starters some well-earned time off.

Tomorrow in Group 1 play, France meet Austria in Vienna and top of the table Denmark meet bottom of the table Croatia in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.

 

Photo: Shutterstock Stock Photo ID: 1200955768 Marcin Kadziolka

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