Edition 1504
08 December 2018
Edition: 1504

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Portugal gear up for Russia

by Chris Wright, in Sport · 07-06-2018 14:47:00 · 0 Comments

European champions Portugal are heading for Russia with a much better squad and reputation than the side that crashed out in the group stages four years back in Brazil. In their penultimate friendly match before the World Cup, Fernando Santos’s team drew 0-0 with a talented and fancied Belgium side in Brussels.

Portugal gear up for Russia

The hosts included Courtois, Kevind De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in their starting line-up whilst Santos pulled a surprise by leaving his usual starting striker André Silva on the bench.
Gonçalo Guedes was given the chance to impress up front and Gelson Martins got a rare start on the right-wing. At the back José Fonte was recalled to the position Ruben Dias had occupied against Tunisia.
Without captain Cristiano Ronaldo, a youthful Portuguese midfield and attack looked lively and enterprising and the veteran centre-back partnership of Pepe and José Fonte brought back memories of Euro 2016 with a rock-solid performance.
The Belgians - many people’s tip as dark horses to win the upcoming World Cup - started brightly with Hazard causing Portugal problems.
After fifteen minutes of almost complete Belgian domination, Portugal began to click into gear.
Gonçalo Guedes, Gelson Martins and Bernardo Silva started to combine well and cause problems for the hosts.
João Moutinho had Courtois diving to parry a long-range effort and as the half wore on Portugal began to cause real danger and on three occasions came close to scoring.
Despite an entertaining first-half, neither keeper had been forced into a difficult save, but that changed in the second-half as only two excellent stops by Beto from Vertonghen and Meunier kept Portugal level.
At the other end, Gelson and Guedes combined superbly on two occasions to create half chances but Guedes completely missed his kick and Gelson skied his effort miles over the bar.
With both teams making the usual array of numerous substitutions, the last twenty minutes petered out without much interest and a draw was a fair reflection of the match. Portugal’s last pre-tournament friendly was last night (Thursday) against Algeria before the squad travel east where they will meet Spain in their first group game on Friday 15 June in Sochi, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia and Russia. 
Portugal’s full squad: 
Goalkeepers - Anthony Lopes (Lyon, France), Beto (Göztepe, Turkey), Rui Patricio (unattached); Defenders - Bruno Alves (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Cedric Soares (Southampton, England), José Fonte (Dalian Yifang, China), Mário Rui (Napoli, Italy), Pepe (Besiktas, Turkey), Raphael Guarneri (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City, England), Rúben Dias (Benfica); Midfielders - Adrien Silva (Leicester City), Bruno Fernandez (Sporting Lisbon), João Mário (West Ham, England), João Moutinho (Monaco), Manuel Fernandez (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon); Forwards - André Silva (AC Milan, Italy), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia, Spain), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas).

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Edition 1504
08 December 2018
Edition: 1504

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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