Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Prediction: Luxembourg vs Portugal

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 29 Mar 2021

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Verdict: Cristiano Ronaldo to score two or more goals

Best odds: 21/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

The standout underdogs and the favourites in Group A of the European World Cup qualifications, Luxembourg and Portugal, are set to face each other at the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg on Tuesday evening in the third and final round of this international break. It will, however, be the second game for Luxembourg, who sat the opening round out.

Luxembourg

The home team stunned the football world on Saturday when they left the Aviva Stadium in Dublin with three points in their pockets, beating a thoroughly uninspiring Ireland team through a superb 85th minute strike from winger Gerson Rodrigues. Their chances of reaching the main event next year are still, of course, next to non-existent, but the win in Ireland will have lifted the morale of the nation greatly. Every point gained in these qualifications will be considered as huge success, and they’ve already booked three.

At the moment, Luc Holtz’s team sit in a flattering third place in the group, ahead of Ireland and Azerbaijan, though behind Portugal and group leaders Serbia. They will be looking to build on the victory from the opener, but they will also be aware that it will be much more difficult to play against the European champions.

Team News

With all his players available, Holtz isn’t very likely to make any changes, having no need to fix something that’s not broken. It means that two of the Thill brothers, Vincent and Olivier, should be in the middle of the park, with the oldest, Sebastien, set to start on the bench again. Rodrigues, the hero from Dublin, will likely be on the left attacking flank, with Danel Sinani leading the line once more.

Portugal

Unlike Luxembourg, Portugal have a lot to prove and they’ll be highly motivated to do some of it in this game. Having struggled unexpectedly to beat Azerbaijan by 1-0 at home in the opening round, they drew 2-2 against Serbia in Belgrade on Saturday in a highly controversial match.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota scored twice in the first half and everything looked good for Fernando Santos’s men at the break, but it took Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic less then a minute to pull one back, before Eintracht Frankfurt winger Filip Kostic capped off an incredible counterattack to set the score level at the hour-mark. Serbia had a penalty claim waved away when the ball appeared to have struck Danilo’s arm in the box and had Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic sent off harshly in injury time, but Portugal still ended up the angrier at the officials as Cristiano Ronaldo deemed his effort, cleared by Stefan Mitrovic, had crossed the goal-line.

Santos was furious after the game, but he will be aware that his team did not outplay the hosts and that the share of the spoils was indeed a fair result.

Nonetheless, it will have produced an extra motive as they travel to Luxembourg, hoping to leave it as the group leaders.

Team News

Santos won’t be able to count upon Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes, who picked up his second booking of the qualifications in Belgrade. Fernandes started in midfield alongside Danilo and Sergio Pereira, but Santos might go for the Wolves pair of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves either side of Danilo this time.

Ronaldo will, of course, be wearing the armband he so angrily threw down at the Rajko Mitic Stadium. Jota has certainly done enough to earn a starting place again, but he hasn’t been long back from a long-term knee injury, and he might not be risked. In that case, Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix would be the logical option.

Conclusion

Yes, Portugal struggled in the first game and didn’t get the result they wanted in the second, and yes, Luxembourg did great to beat Ireland in Dublin, but anything other than a convincing win for the visitors would be a great shock here.

Ronaldo has now gone five international matches without scoring in a row, and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be eager to get going.

Verdict: Cristiano Ronaldo to score two or more goals

Best odds: 21/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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