MX23RW : Tuesday, January 12 16:48:02| >> :600:106269:106269:
Nov 14, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
PortugalPortugal
0-1
FranceFrance

Pereira (31')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kante (54')
Lloris (62'), Kante (80'), Hernandez (82')

Preview: Portugal vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Nations League clash between Portugal and France, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The pick of the fixtures this Saturday in the UEFA Nations League sees European champions Portugal welcome world Champions France to the Estadio da Luz on matchday five in Group A3.

The 2018-19 Nations League winners warmed up for this crucial encounter with a 7-0 thrashing of Andorra, but France's friendly saw them suffer a shock 2-0 defeat to Finland on Wednesday.


Match preview

Portugal manager Fernando Santos on May 28, 2018© Reuters

The goal for Portugal in this encounter is simple - win and the current champions take another giant stride towards defending their crown before the final round of group matches.

Fernando Santos's men overcame Sweden with ease twice and have also put Croatia to the sword in League A Group 3, with France the only team to stop Portugal in their tracks as they held the European and Nations League champions to a goalless stalemate last month.

Portugal and France have both accrued 10 points from a possible 12 in the group, with Santos's men top of the rankings owing to their superior goal difference - the champions have struck nine times and shipped just one goal thus far.

Santos's side barely needed to get into second gear to hit Andorra for seven in their midweek friendly, with Paulinho (2) and Pedro Neto both marking their debuts for the national team with goals, and Cristiano Ronaldo coming off the bench to net his 102nd strike for Portugal.

The defending Nations League champions may as well start making preparations for the finals should they beat France this Saturday, and if this weekend's hosts observed their opponents' performance against Finland, Portugal will certainly feel confident of picking up a vital win against the world champions.

France boss Didier Deschamps on November 14, 2019© Reuters

France have also stamped their authority on League A Group 3 and are firmly in with a chance of making the finals, but Didier Deschamps was forced to witness his side succumb to a 2-0 defeat against Finland in their warm-up game.

Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari will not be forgetting their debuts for Finland in a hurry as the two 21-year-olds both struck in quick succession to condemn France to their first defeat in over a year and end their 12-game unbeaten run in doing so.

The world champions cannot dwell on that lowly defeat for any time at all as they face a behemoth of a match with old foes Portugal this weekend, with the winner of this tie putting one foot firmly in next year's finals.

Les Bleus have already done the double over their 2018 World Cup final opponents Croatia, with France also prevailing in a closely-fought battle with Sweden before that 0-0 stalemate with Portugal in October.

Of course, France rested a number of key players for the visit of Finland, and with Deschamps set to welcome back some of his big-hitters for the trip to Portugal, fans and neutrals alike should be in for an enthralling affair.

Portugal Nations League form: WWDW
Portugal form (all competitions): WWDDWW

France Nations League form: WWDW
France form (all competitions): WWWDWL


Team News

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo warms up ahead of his side's Champions League match on November 4, 2020© Reuters

As expected, Ronaldo was restricted to an appearance from the bench against Andorra, but the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is certain to start this mouthwatering clash.

Most of the team who featured from the first whistle in Wednesday's friendly are likely to cede their places here, starting with Rui Patricio returning in goal and Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro returning to the defence.

William Carvalho, Danilo Pereira and Bruno Fernandes should make up the midfield, with Joao Felix and Bernardo Silva likely to support Ronaldo in Santos's front three.

The timing of this month's international fixtures has come under heavy criticism due to COVID-19 and the unrelenting fixture schedules causing more injuries, with France's Kingsley Coman the latest to pick up an ankle problem during training.

However, the Bayern Munich man is not thought to be carrying a serious problem and he should be available for this pivotal match, meaning that Wednesday's debutant Marcus Thuram is likely to drop down to the bench.

Hugo Lloris should come back to replace Steve Mandanda in between the sticks, with Raphael Varane and Lucas Hernandez potentially occupying spots in the back four.

Further up the field, N'Golo Kante is likely to start in midfield while Anthony Martial and Antoine Griezmann should also return to the first XI, but Kylian Mbappe remains doubtful.

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Cancelo, Dias, Fonte, Guerreiro; Pereira, Carvalho, Fernandes; Silva, Felix, Ronaldo

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Dubois, Varane, Lenglet, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann; Martial, Mbappe


SM words green background

We say: Portugal 2-1 France

A clash between two giants of the European game is an exciting affair at any time of the year, but injuries and positive COVID-19 tests have been blots on the landscape and neither Portugal nor France have come out unscathed. Mbappe's return would be a significant boost to Deschamps and co, who will be desperate to bounce back from their dismal defeat to Finland, but we reckon Portugal will do enough to claim all three points and cement their position at the top of League A Group 3.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

ID:421948:cQx

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