Poland VS Portugal Prediction
“Stade Vélodrome” in Marseille welcomes the first quarter-final fixture from the UEFA Euro 2016 when Portugal returns in the south coast French city keeping some old memories from Euro 1984, while Poland has some brighter memories. Indeed, Adam Nawalka’s men have won their last group game in Marseille where Poland defeated Ukraine in the scuffle between both Euro 2012 co-hosts and this marked their second ever win at European Championship finals.
Portugal returns in Marseille with not the best memories though, since “The Navigators” couldn’t won in both from their Euro 1984 fixtures. However, it remains thirty two summers ago and now we have completely different generation of Portuguese footballers.
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Poland before their first ever European Championship 1/4 final
“The White Eagles” from Poland have not only achieved their first ever win on the Euros, but they also reached the quarter-finals for the very first time. Remarkable achievement by squad led of Adam Nawalka who has solid backing from the Polish Football Association and by legendary Polish striker Zbigniew Boniek who insisted for Nawalka’s appointment. This seems as an excellent decision by the Polish FA and now Nawalka rewards their credit with strong result by Polish national football team as they show really good efforts and strong defensive display on French turf. Fact that Poland conceded only one goal so far speaks for itself and that goal came in the 1/8 finals when Xherdan Shaqiri scored that beauty to leveling the score in Saint-Étienne. However, Polish defense was solid in the additional time and their maximal efficiency in the penalty shootouts were enough for eliminating Switzerland after the Round of 16.
Now Poland must focus what’s on the horizon and their squad looked a bit tired in the closing part of game vs Switzerland. Nevertheless, Nawalka made only two changes in that game and it seems that he has enough confidence in his squad. This time he’ll have even more options since 19-year-old Bartosz Kapustka is back in contention after missing the 1/8 final due to yellow card accumulation, so Nawalka can decide will he name him in the starting XI this time. After 120 minutes intensity and psychical challenge (except the physical) Poland will be even more improved in mentality and with higher confidence here. This is something which can always be helpful when facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Polish players must inevitably focus on CR7’s personality, but this doesn’t mean that they should underestimate other Portuguese players, not at all.
Wojciech Szczesny was the number one (not only literally) in Polish squad against Northern Ireland but his injury has opened one excellent opportunity and Lukasz Fabianski has been solid as Szczesny’s replacement. So even if Roma’s goalkeeper manage to recover on time for this one, we highly doubt that Nawalka will make any rotations, not when Fabianski has grabbed his chance in such a convincing way. So with few words, even if we consider that Wojciech Szczesny and Bartosz Kapustka are available, we don’t expect any rotations, at least in the starting lineup. Their Euro 2016 1/8 final duel was in Friday afternoon while the quarter-final against Portugal is scheduled for Thursday evening, so virtually Poland have almost 168 hours to recover, which is more from enough.
Another draw is featured in Portugal’s quarter-final aspirations?
Portugal have been so consistent in their outcomes at Euro 2016 and all four games in which “The Selecao” took part were marked with draw on the score sheet. Of course, victory against Croatia came in the additional time but as it comes to betting, result was draw in the regular 90 minutes and this was fourth consecutive for squad led by Fernando Santos.
Now Portugal returns at stadium which arouses some memories from Portugal’s European Championship debut and that was back at Euro 1984. Twenty years before their host competition (Euro 2004) and thirty-two years before Euro 2016, Portugal with led by Fernando Cabrita made its continental introduction and this includes two games in Marseille. Their second group game was against regional rivals Spain and it has ended with 1:1 draw, while almost one week later Portugal was at the semi-finals and their match against hosts France was once again staged by “Stade Vélodrome”. In front of 55 000 spectators regular time ended with another 1-1 draw and first Euro’84 finalist had to be determined after either additional time or penalties. Well, that game ended with 3:2 win for France and it came in the most awful route for “The Navigators” – they took the lead after Jordão’s second goal in that game, but Jean-François Domergue did the same as he responded with the same exercise, before Michel Platini’s late winner in 119th minute.
Not the best memories for Portugal but they must focus on the upcoming Euro 2016 clash against Poland, as they’re coming after similar situation likewise Poland. Portugal and Croatia met in the 1/8 finals where their game in Lens will be remembered with fact that it ended without not even one shot on target. However, Portugal have outwitted Croatia after Ricardo Quaresma’s late goal, inspired by a fast-flowing counterattack. Something which Poland will surely have in mind and they should be careful for the counter-attacking abilities of Portugal.
Fernando Santos has few important decisions to take as he can rotate the starting lineup regardless of the last result. Southampton’s defensive duo Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares made their first Euro 2016 appearance and their presence was solid enough to form huge competition for the starting positions of the right defender and one of the centre-backs. Other two places are certainly for Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Pepe, as well as for talented left-back Raphaël Guerreiro, who was in Portugal’s squad at the U-21 2015 UEFA European Championship and he massively contributed Portugal to win the silver medals in the Czech Republic last summer.
Other players who were in that talented Portuguese squad and been drafted to the main team are William Carvalho and João Mário, who are both first-team players of Portugal at this time and they’re in huge competition for starting position with other skilled midfielders like André Gomes, Renato Sanches, Adrien Silva and Danilo Pereira. Last but not least, João Moutinho who was dropped on the bench last time, but we won’t be surprised if the most experienced Portuguese midfielder is well rested and set to return in the starting formation against Poland. Generally Portugal can boast with pretty strong centre and few of the main questions ahead of Fernando Santos are exactly related with that line.
He can choose among three different formations and this pretty much depends on his game plan. Santos can select between – 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2 or even 4-3-3, as latter will be eventually inspired from Quaresma’s show up against Croatia. Nonetheless, Santos must show bold mind and he must not be attributed entirely to the emotion after that win, since Poland’s 4-4-2 proved to be tricky enough, even for the strong team of Germany in their group phase encounter.
Different variations which Fernando Santos has in front can build a setup of three central midfielders and João Moutinho who can play on top of the midfield quarter, while Santos can stick to the formation of 4-4-2, with André Gomes and João Mário on both flanks, while William Carvalho, Danilo, Renato Sanches, Adrien Silva and Moutinho can compete for both CM positions. If Santos decide to start with attacking trio including Ronaldo, Nani and Quaresma, then he obviously must name only three central midfielders from the above mentioned roster.
Head-to-head history of Poland and Portugal – Euro 2016 in priority
Poland’s last success against “The Navigators” came in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers when they won at home with 2:1, while the second leg in Portugal ended with a high-scoring 2:2 draw. As a result of which Poland finished on top of qualifying Group A, but anyway, both teams qualified to the finals in Austria and Switzerland. This was a major step for Poland as it was their first ever European Championship qualification and their Euro 2016 accomplishment comes on third successive event. Obvious improvement in Polish football.
Last win of Portugal dates back in the days when Cristiano Ronaldo was still a teenager and he wasn’t the major figure we know nowadays. It happened at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea where Portugal trashed Poland with 4:0 but Pedro Pauleta’s hat-trick wasn’t enough to qualify Portugal to the next stage, as both European teams were dropped out at the expense of hosts South Korea and Team USA.
Poland can boast with a major event victory over “The Selecao” as well, as that happened on North American turf when both sides were alongside Morocco and England in Group F of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. This win was enough for “The White Eagles” who successfully flew for the Round of 16, as one of the best-placed third teams, whilst Portugal was eliminated from the tournament.
Furthermore, football competition between both nations dates from longer time and Poland were one of the Portuguese victims on their qualifying route towards Euro’84 – two wins for Portugal and we can easily conclude how prestigious they were, since “The White and Reds” were bronze medalists from the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
Euro 2016: Poland vs Portugal – Possible squads and betting tip
Fourteen years after the last main stage encounter of both nations, Portugal and Poland are looking ahead their potential semi-final position at Euro 2016 and logically Portugal are considered for favorites. Anyhow, Poland looks really solid and centre-back duo between Kamil Glik and Michal Pazdan works quite well so far. Keeping an eye to speedy players like Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo will be one real challenge for all of them but here comes the role of both full-backs as well – experienced right-back of Borussia Dortmund Lukasz Piszczek and his left-back teammate Artur Jędrzejczyk should pay attention even more. Thus both wingers Jakub Błaszczykowski and someone from Bartosz Kapustka/Kamil Grosicki must contribute even more for the defending, but as we already saw they surely do so and follow all instructions of Adam Nawalka.
Grzegorz Krychowiak and Krzysztof Mączyński are prepared for another strong midfield battle and their presence in heart of Polish midfield will be from consequential matter for Polish side. So all looks are over Poland’s attacking duo which seems to be the biggest debtor of the overall teamwork so far. Of course, Robert Lewandowski engages enough attention with only with presence, but he still can’t score and this opens more chances for Arkadiusz Milik, who has been used as “second striker” in most occasions. And apart from winning goal Milik scored against Northern Ireland, his attacking efforts are not so pleasing since he missed some wonderful scoring chances and the last one of them was in the opening seconds of the game vs Switzerland, when Milik missed a hundred percent chance on clear goal.
Portugal will have to secure decent coverage of Lewandowski, probably like Polish defenders must do with Cristiano Ronaldo, so Fernando Santos can choose among someone from José Fonte and the 38-year-old veteran Ricardo Carvalho, whose last appearance was in the 3-3 draw vs Hungary. Indeed, advanced football age of Ricardo Carvalho and the not so convincing results shown by Portugal in the group phase may tip the scales in José Fonte’s favor.
Same thing goes for Cedric Soares who did really well against Croatia and he pretty much neutralized Ivan Perisic. Vieirinha may be dropped at his expense and obviously Soares appearance contributes for the better defensive display of Portugal.
Final conclusion and betting prediction
All these arguments and eye-keeping decisions will affect to the overall approach of both teams and we don’t expect ultra-attacking display by neither from Poland and Portugal. Both sides will be pretty cautious and we don’t expect some big risks by Adam Nawalka and Fernando Santos. So as a conclusion we won’t be surprised from another draw in match where Portugal are involved and this comes as a small stake prediction right here.
Our thoughts are for another draw at Euro 2016. We’ve already underlined enough motives and good arguments about such an outcome and we recommend small stakes on the first quarter-final duel at UEFA Euro 2016.
Referee: Felix Brych from Germany.
Venue: “Stade Vélodrome”, Marseille.
Possible starting lineups of Poland and Portugal
Poland: Lukasz Fabianski – Lukasz Piszczek, Kamil Glik, Michal Pazdan, Artur Jedrzejczyk – Jakub Błaszczykowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Krzysztof Maczynski, Kamil Grosicki – Arkadiusz Milik, Robert Lewandowski (c). (4-4-2)
Portugal: Rui Patrício – Cédric Soares, Jose Fonte, Pepe, Raphaël Guerreiro – João Moutinho, Adrien Silva, João Mário – Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo (c). (4-3-3)