Portugal are desperate to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat to Bulgaria when they host world number one football team Belgium at Estadio Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa, Leiria on 29th March 2016.
A Seleccao played better football on the night, but were unfortunate recepiants of a defeat as Bulgaria managed to hold on to the single goal they scored early in the first half. The Portuguese attacked with much venom, but Vladislav Stoyanov stood in their way at Bulgarian goal, who made a number of key saves and most important of all a brilliantly denied a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty in the 65th minute.
The FIFA number one ranked Belgium are rattled by the news of latest terrorist attack at Brussels, who had also witnessed their previous friendly against Spain cancelled under a similar incident in Paris. This is their only friendly match in this international window.
- Portugal have now lost 2 of their last 3 matches and failed to score in both. Before those matches they were on a 3 match winning streak.
- Seven of their last 8 matches have witnessed under 2.5 goals.
- While playing in front of home crowd, A Selecao have lost in 3 of their last 4 matches and failed to score in those 3 matches.
- Also Portugal’s last four home matches saw under 2.5 goals and the last 2 matches under 1.5 goals.
- Belgium are on a 5-match winning streak and have lost only once in their 14 matches since World Cup 2014. Overall stats read 9 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss.
- Four out of their last five matches have seen over 3.5 goals, scoring 3 or more goals in those four matches.
Portugal Team News
Ronaldo and Nani played as strikers in an attacking 4-4-2 formation against Bulgaria and they are likely to retain their positions, but in a more defensive set-up.
In the defense, Pepe will partner Bruno Alves with Vieirinha and Eliseu in the flanks.
Benfica’s 18-year midfielder Renato Sanchez, who made his debut against Bulgaria after coming off as a second substitute replacing William Carvalho is also pushing for a start here.
Portugal Expected Starting line-up (4-4-2):
Patricio – Pepe, Bruno Alves, Eliseu, Vieirinha – Carvalho, Adrien Silva, Rafa Silva, Joao Mario – Nani, Ronaldo.
Belgium Team News
Marc Wilmots will be without the injured Kevin De Bruyne, while Eden Hazard and Benteke are dropped due to poor form. While Hazard’s brother Thorgan Hazard is included in the squad and he could start from the bench.
Romelu Lukaku is an undisputed started here on the back of his terrific club form and his 21-year old brother Jordan Lukaku, who plays as a defender for Oostende has been also called-up to the squad.
The midfield look strong as ever with the likes of Roma’s Nainggolan and Napoli’s Dries Mertens and Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele alongside interim captain Alex Witsel.
The defense has plenty of talent with the inform Alderweireld, Vermaelen and Lombaerts ready to start against Portugal.
Belgium Expected Starting Line-up
Courtois – Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Lombaerts, Gillet – Nainggolan, Dembele, Carrasco – Witsel, Mertens, Lukaku.
Portugal vs Belgium: Head-to-Head Stats
- The teams have met each other 9 times in the past, with Belgium winning 3, Portugal 2 and 4 were draws.
- Portugal’s two wins came in their last two meetings and they are unbeaten in their last three matches against Belgium.
- This is the first meeting between the two sides since 2007.
Portugal vs Belgium: Prediction
Belgium look like a strong side on paper and the absence of De Bruyne and Hazard could hardly affect them. With Lukaku in fine form, they could trouble an ageing Portuguese defence and continue their scoring form.
Portugal on the other hand, look hardly convincing despite having a number of talented players in the squad. They somehow find it hard to break opposition defence and have a poor scoring record both home and away.
Belgium are more likely to snatch a win here, but it depends on what level the players perform, considering this is a friendly match.