Monday, October 23, 2017

Portugal v Belgium: World´s top-ranked side depleted ahead of rearranged clash

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Mar 2016

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World number one side Belgium will be without a host of star names for their rearranged international friendly against Portugal on Tuesday.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is the latest Belgium player to withdraw, with Christian Benteke, Kevin De Bruyne  Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Divock Origi and Jan Vertonghen already ruled out.

The match was originally scheduled to take place in Brussels but the venue was switched to Leiria following terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital on March 22 and the fallout of the disaster – which caused the cancellation of their planned game with Spain – has overshadowed the build-up.

Dries Mertens and Mousa Dembele may also be unavailable through injury and Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots confirmed the number of his players who are out will require an “adjustment”.

He said: “There are injured players and some players who are maybe only 50 per cent fit, so it requires some adjustment. But I will start with the best possible arrangement.

“From this match we might not be able to learn a lot, but it will be an interesting game and it is the opportunity for some other players to show themselves.”

Cristiano Ronaldo had a penalty saved in Portugal’s shock 1-0 home loss to Bulgaria on Friday – which had supporters restless – and Wilmots suggested the Real Madrid star could be rested ahead of his club’s crucial El Clasico clash against Barcelona.

“It remains to be seen whether the Portuguese coach [Fernando Santos] is undertaking a lot of changes and whether Cristiano Ronaldo plays a lot,” Wilmots added.

“He played on Friday for 90 minutes and this weekend he has with Real in the Clasico visiting Barcelona. For us, it changes little, however, we play the same way.”

Flu is expected to keep experienced centre-back Ricardo Carvalho out of the match, which goalkeeper Anthony Lopes says Portugal must win.

“No luck – we had opportunities to score but we could not,” he said after the loss to Bulgaria.

“Belgium is an important game, even being a friendly we go to win.”

Wilmots’ men have won eight of their last nine internationals – with a defeat in Wales last June the only blemish – while Portugal have lost two of their last three since qualification for Euro 2016 ended.

Belgium have not beaten Portugal since 1989, but the two nations have only met on three occasions since then.

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