Portugal welcome the visitors Ukraine in the Euro Qualification – Round 1. The match will be held on Friday, March, 22nd, at the Estadio da Luz (Lisabon).
The hosting Portugal are defending European champions, and they are presently on the go. The team suffered no loss in six latest matches, though they faced strong opponents. The hosts on the day drawed against Poland, Italy, and the world vice-champions Croatia. Then they won Poland and Italy, and were victors against Scotland in the friendly encounter, above all.
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The visiting Ukraine outfit under the stewardship of Shevchenko have been showing solid results lately. They ended first in their Nations League group and progressed to the elite League A. Moreover, if we disregard the Ukrainians’ defeat to Slovakia in the Nations League dead rubber (Ukraine won the group well before, and Shevchenko played with his reserve squad), the visitors are unbeaten in ten matches in a row. This is all true, but Ukraine did not clash with a side of Portugal’s caliber yet.
Portugal’s manager Santos has a number of equally solid substitute players, so, he may resort to various tactical changes throughout the match. Shevchenko cannot boast such a choice of performers. He has a few decent foreign players: Malinovskyi has kicked into gear and proved himself both in the national team and in Belgium (featuring top-ten of the most expensive league players); Bezus and Yaremchuk were also called to compete for Ukraine. So, overall there is the starting eleven and three to five equal substitutes, the other performers need to brought to the main squad’s level, which is highly insufficient to fight head to head against the present-form Portuguese. The gulf in the sides’ class is also stressed by the fact that Portugal players compete for RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Juventus, Internazionale, that is, the leading leagues and top clubs; the Ukrainians play for Leganes, Genk, and Gent. Well, Konoplyanka fights for Schalke 04, and Zinchenko does for Manchester City, but they mostly sit on the bench there. Moreover, these days, it is not quite clear if one needs to be proud of playing for Schalke, as the club is in a total mess at present. Also, Yarmolenko will miss the match again. Portugal are at the peak. They outclass the guests individually, and they are better-knit. The champions play on their home soil and will most likely attain a win at the start of their Euro qualification.
Prediction for the match: Portugal to win home.