Spain and Portugal are set to kickstart the 2022 UEFA Nations League campaign on Thursday at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville.
Following a grueling end to the 2021/22 season, the UEFA Nations League is set to get underway this midweek. The tournament has come under fire for forcing players to get back on to the pitch just a few weeks after the end of the strenuous campaign, but it will hope to create excitement among the viewers with some blockbuster encounters on offer.
Spain vs Portugal: Preview
One of them is set to take place at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville, as Spain locks horns with Portugal this Thursday. It will be the battle of the two neighbours, who have been shuffled into Group B, also consisting of Switzerland and Czechia, making it arguably the toughest group in the competition.
It will thus be critical for these two teams to start on a positive note in their quest to qualify for the finals of the Nations League. Both the teams have played only twice so far this year, with the hosts Spain winning back-to-back friendlies against Albania and Iceland in March. La Roja are, in fact, coming on the back of six successive wins.
But Portugal could be a tough nut to crack, even though they have never looked as dominant since their triumph in the 2016 European Championship. Portugal had to labour to a 2-0 victory over North Macedonia in March in order to book their tickets to the FIFA World Cup.
Spain vs Portugal: Team News
Luis Enrique has made some interesting choices with regard to his squad selection for the upcoming matches. While Aymeric Laporte and Pedri are missing through injuries, young Gavi has been called up, along with his Barcelona teammate Ansu Fati.
Enrique will look to field a full-strength eleven in his bid to start the UEFA Nations League campaign on a positive note. With that in mind, the Spanish attack could be led by the experienced Alvaro Morata, with additional support from wingers Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres.
Since Thiago Alcantara has withdrawn from the squad, Gavi might be handed a start after all. He could pair up with Koke to accompany Busquets in the middle of the park.
Spain are not the only ones missing a Manchester City defender, as Portugal are also without Ruben Dias heading into this contest. His absence could pave the way for Domingos Duarte to form the central defensive pairing alongside the experienced Pepe, although coach Fernando Santos could also opt for Danilo Pereira.
Ronaldo can expect additional support from the wide players in Otavio and Diogo Jota, though Santos also has the option of deploying Goncalo Guedes and AC Milan’s star performer Rafael Leao.
Spain vs Portugal: Probable Line-ups
Goalkeeper: Unai Simon;
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta, Pau Torres, Inigo Martinez, Jordi Alba;
Midfielders: Koke, Sergio Busquets, Gavi;
Forwards: Dani Olmo, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres
Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio;
Defenders: Joao Cancelo, Pepe, Duarte, Raphael Guerreiro;
Midfielders: Jao Moutinho, Otavio, Bruno Fernandes, Bernado Silva;
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota
Spain vs Portugal: Prediction
Despite the quality present in the two teams, we are expecting a cagey encounter, with both sides likely to fight tooth and nail to dominate the proceedings. Portugal are set to employ a defensive approach, with a low defensive line in an attempt to make life difficult for the hosts.
However, Spain are far more organized as a team and given the form of their forwards, we expect Luis Enrique’s men to prevail. The Spanish defensive duo of Martinez and Torres could star in this affair, keeping Ronaldo quiet and causing a frustrating evening for the Portuguese attackers.
Spain 1-0 Portugal