All eyes will be on Group 2 of the UEFA Nations League where former champions Portugal take on Spain with the top spot up for grabs. The home side is coming off the back of a thumping 4-0 win away to The Czech Republic and will go into the game full of optimism
Luis Enrique’s Spain, for all their talent, has grossly underachieved and were humbled 2-1 at home by Switzerland last week. This leaves them with an uphill task against Selecao, who can turn up the style on their day.
The games between the two sides have proven to be tight affairs in recent times. In fact, their last five games across all competitions have ended in draws, three of which were scoreless. While a draw will do for Portugal on the night, Spain has little option but to go for it. A loss on the night and a win for Switzerland will see La Furia Roja finish third in the group. Given that they were top of the group at the end of match week four, it would be a monumental collapse indeed.
Both sides played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this year. Spain has the upper hand in the fixture, having won 18 of the 40 meetings between the two sides. Portugal has won just six games but goes into the game as a favorite and is also in better form at the moment. It promises to be a thrilling affair between the two Iberian giants in game week six.
The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they could employ.
The Selecao were at their clinical best against the Czech Republic and put in a stellar performance in the 4-0 win. The victory took them back to the summit of Group 2, and they will go into the final game as favorites to keep hold of the top spot.
Portugal has also kept three clean sheets in their last four games in the competition and has enough reasons to be optimistic about getting the desired result. Anything other than a loss on the night should see Fernando Santos’s side end their night at the top of the group.
The 4-2-3-1 formation worked a treat against the Czech Republic, and Santos is likely to reprise the same tactics on Tuesday. The double pivot will also give the Portuguese backline enough protection, not putting undue stress on Bruno Fernandes to track back and defend. This will leave the Manchester United man free to do what he does best- craft opportunities and prise open opposition defenses.
Diogo Costa will continue to play in goal, behind a back four of Diogo Dalot, Ruben Dias, Danilo Pereira, and the returning Joao Cancelo. Ruben Neves will form half of a double pivot with Joao Palhinha, who will take the place of William Carvalho in the starting lineup.
Bruno Fernandes will return as ten and will be in charge of creating opportunities for Cristiano Ronaldo alongside Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva. Diogo Jota scored against the Czech Republic and will serve as a substitute if needed.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Costa; Dalot, Dias, Pereira, Cancelo; Palhinha, Neves; Silva, Fernandes, Leao; Ronaldo