Portugal face their final friendly before the World Cup gets under way this week, as they host Algeria. They’re becoming familiar opposition to North African sides, after meeting Egypt and Tunisia in recent weeks. This clash with Algeria comes ahead of their World Cup encounter with Morocco, which seems like a game which the Portuguese are worried about. However, they’ve hit two goals past each of Egypt and Tunisia so far, and they’ll be looking to break down the Algeria defence on Thursday.
The visitors are missing out on the World Cup, but they do have some decent names in their line-up. Islam Slimani spent a good chunk of his career in Lisbon, while Riyad Mahrez comes here amid talk of a £60million bid from Man City. They will be looking to challenge this Portuguese side, but the European champions are out to improve their defence ahead of a tricky tournament opener against Spain. Can they repeat the defensive heroics which took them all the way in France two years ago?
The Portuguese can call upon their full strength defence once again, and that’s bound to help them ahead of this friendly. With a break of eight days between the Algeria clash and their meeting with Spain, there’s enough rest time for Fernando Santos to go all in with his strongest side. That should send them off to the tournament on the back of a morale boosting victory. With Algeria losing their last three matches ahead of this meeting in Lisbon, we see a Portugal win.
We expect Portugal to return to their impressive standards set in qualifying, where they conceded just four times in 10 matches. They saw BTTS land in just two games, and after winning seven of their last nine matches to nil, their defensive strength should be clear. They let in just one goal in the knockout rounds at Euro 2016, and then kept three clean sheets in five at the Confederations Cup last summer. Portugal are facing weaker opposition this time around, and after their clean sheet at Belgium at the weekend we’re going with a home win to nil.
Portugal’s chances of winning are boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to training. He’s likely to feature here after taking a break following the Champions League final. We expect Portugal’s record scorer to notch against Algeria, following 15 goals in qualifying. The Real Madrid man ended the season in great form, and a goal here would be the perfect way to prepare for the World Cup.
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There have been no recent meetings between these two sides.
Cristiano Ronaldo is back in training for Portugal, and he could be ready to return to the side this week.
Algeria’s squad includes Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Nabil Bentaleb.