Competition: European Championship
Fixture: Portugal v Iceland
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Venue: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint Etienne
Kick off time: 20:00 hrs GMT
Portugal will take on Iceland as the two sides begin their respective campaigns in Group F at Euro 2016. The two other sides in this group are Austria and Hungary.
Portugal’s form: L-W-W-L-W
Portugal have played a total of five friendlies from since March this year. The side played Bulgaria and Belgium in two friendly matches when the European leagues broke for a mid-season international break. While the fixture against Bulgaria ended in a 1-0 defeat, Portugal managed to beat Belgium 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Romelu Lukaku found the back of the net for the opponents in the second half, Portugal managed to dig deep and held their lead for the rest of the contest.
The side have been involved in a total of three friendlies as they prepared for the Euros following the end of the European club seasons. They started with a 3-0 win over Norway with Ricardo Quaresma, Eder and Raphael Guerreiro all finding the back of the net.
They played England at the Wembley stadium next and were defeated 1-0 in a close game. Portugal had Bruno Alves sent off for a wild tackle on Harry Kane but continued to create chances. However, Chris Smalling’s header in the 86th minute gave England the win on the occasion.
Their final friendly match before their Group F opener came against Estonia and as expected, it was a cake-walk for this team. Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma both grabbed braces while Danilo Pereira and Eder also found the back of the net in a 7-0 thrashing of the minnows.
Iceland’s form: L-L-W-L-W
Iceland defeated Liechtenstein 4-0 in their final friendly match coming into this tournament. Kolbein Sigborsson, Birkir Saevarsson, Alfred Finnbogason and Eidur Gudjohnsen got on the score-sheet for the side last Monday as they trumped Liechtenstein.
Besides this contest, Iceland had featured against Norway in another pre-tournament friendly. However, it did not go according to plan as Norway pipped them 3-2. Iceland trailed Norway by a couple of goals for the majority of the game after falling behind in the very first minute and a late strike from Gylfi Sigurdsson only served to provide them some hope towards the end.
Following a 3-2 defeat by the United States in a friendly match on New Year’s Eve, Iceland went on to lose to Denmark in the first of the March friendlies. They were second best throughout the game and trailed 2-0 up until the final minute of the game when Arnor Traustason pulled one goal back.
However, they did better against the Euro 2004 champions Greece in their second friendly match in March, defeating the Greeks 3-2 in a thrilling contest.
Key Players and Team News
Portugal: There is no doubt about the fact that Ronaldo is the best player by far in this side. His abilities to make things happen and come up with the goods is probably second to none. The obnoxious rate at which he scores goals will be a threat to any opposition and this tournament represents a great chance for him to get his hands on a trophy playing for his country.
Combustible Real Madrid defender Pepe will be a regular starter for this team who like to play a variation of a 4-4-3 formation. Southampton defender Jose Fonte is backed to start ahead of veteran Ricardo Carvalho with Guerreiro and Cedric Soares occupying the full-back slots. Andre Gomes and Joao Mario are expected to start in their wide midfield positions with Danilo Pereira, William Carvalho or Renato Sanches sitting in behind Joao Moutinho, who operates in a slightly advanced role.
Ronaldo will have the freedom to play in a free role and one can expect him to pop up across several areas on the pitch. Quaresma or Nani will start alongside in the other forward position alongside Ronaldo.
Iceland: Swansea attacking midfielder Sigurdsson will be the one to watch out for in this team. He has been a bit of a revelation down the years in the English Premier League. He has the ability to pierce the opposition defence with the right pass and can have a go at goal himself. Sigurdsson is also extremely good on set-pieces and has a decent conversion rate from free-kicks in good areas.
Former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Gudjohnsen is a veteran now but he has a lot to offer on the pitch thanks to his abilities and his intelligence as a footballer. The team are known to adopt a 4-5-1 formation mostly and will try to be well organized defensively. Their only hope against Portugal is to hit on the counter.
Portugal start as definite favourites to win this fixture (8/13 at BetVictor). The sheer quality that they possess all around the pitch is no match for the opposition at least on paper and unless a miracle happens, expect Portugal to bang in more than three goals on Tuesday (2/1 at PaddyPower).