Thursday, July 25, 2024

Martinez will shuffle pack against Georgia with qualification assured

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Jun 2024

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Roberto Martinez says he will rotate his Portugal side for their final Group F game against Georgia, with qualification to the Euro 2024 knockout stages already secured.

The 2016 champions booked their place in the last 16 with a game to spare following their 3-0 win over Turkiye on Saturday.

Strikes from Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes sandwiched Samet Akaydin’s calamitous own goal to move Portugal onto an unassailable six points after their first two matches, while sealing top spot in Group F.

Martinez’s side have now won more group-stage games than they did in the 2016 and 2020 editions combined (one win, four draws, one defeat).

And the Spaniard is thrilled with the strides made by his side, who came from behind to beat Czechia 2-1 in their opener, and the head coach revealed he will shuffle his pack when they face Georgia on Wednesday.

“Securing first place is good because there are a lot of players in the dressing room who deserve to play, and we need to give them opportunities to show what they’ve got and create a competitive environment,” he said.

“I was very happy with the attitude and them showing that we’re growing game by game. It’s good to see progress and a good level of play in two consecutive matches, and I feel that we are ready for the knock-outs.”

After operating with three centre-halves against Czechia, Martinez reverted to a back four against Turkiye, and he believes having different options will stand Portugal in good stead heading into the next phase of the tournament.

“It’s important to balance our abundance of individual talent and the best way to do it is to be tactically flexible,” he added.

“To have that flexibility in a national team is difficult, so I think it’s great that we have players talented enough to play different roles according to the situation and the rival.”

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