Portugal vs Czech Republic: Preview and Prediction￼
Portugal and the Czech Republic will lock horns on the third matchday of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League Group A2 fixtures on Thursday, 9th June. This match will be played at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon.
Portugal has had a fairly decent start to their campaign and is currently placed at the top in their group, with four points to their name from two fixtures. They began their journey with a 1-1 draw against Spain but demolished Switzerland in their last match to emerge as 4-0 winners.
Along similar lines, the Czech Republic also has had a fantastic start. They too have accumulated four points from their two matches, but are placed behind their opposition because of an inferior goal difference. Jaroslav Silhavy’s team won their first match against Switzerland by a 2-1 margin, before playing a 2-2 thriller against Spain last time out.
Portugal has been doing well recently, having lost only one of their last eleven fixtures – against Serbia. Keeping that aside, A Selecao won eight of those eleven matches and played out a couple of draws.
Among the teams, they have beaten are Qatar on two occasions, and the Republic of Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Turkey, North Macedonia and Switzerland once each. Besides that, Fernando Santos’ team engaged in stalemates against Spain and the Republic of Ireland.
In terms of current form as well, Czech Republic’s story is pretty similar to their opposition. They have lost only one of their last nine matches, which was a heartbreaking extra-time defeat against Sweden in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying game.
Silhavy’s team won four of those nine fixtures, beating Belarus, Kuwait, Estonia, and most recently, Switzerland in the process. They also have played out four twice – a couple of which came against Wales, with the other two coming against Ukraine and Spain.
Head to Head Record
Interestingly, Portugal and the Czech Republic have very rarely crossed paths and Thursday will mark only the fourth occasion of these two teams crossing swords. Among the previous three times, Portugal emerged victoriously twice while the Czech Republic had the last laugh on only one occasion.
The last meeting between these two teams was nearly a decade ago, in the 2012 UEFA European Championship, Portugal won the match by a slender 1-0 margin, courtesy of a late winner from none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Santos will have a fully fit squad to pick his starting XI from, but after an emphatic win against the Swiss, it is very certain that many major stars will be given some much-needed and well deserved rest. Starting with the defense, veteran war horse Pepe could make for Domingos Duarte, while Raphael Guerreiro might come in place of Nuno Mendes.
Besides that, we could also see a new-look midfield and attacking contingent. Ruben Neven and William Carvalho could make way for Joao Palhinha and Joao Moutinho respectively, whilst further up the pitch, Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Rafael Leao could be given a chance at the expense of Otavio, Ronaldo and Diogo Jota respectively.
On the contrary, Silhavy is not as lucky as Santos, as two of his reliable players in defender Jaroslav Zeleny and Jakub Jankto were injured in the clash against Spain and are likely to miss this fixture. We can expect three changes in their starting XI.
Zeleny is likely to be replaced by Milan Havel, the versatile player from Viktoria Plzen who can slot in at many positions. Besides that, Michal Sadilek could be given rest by replacing him with another Viktoria Plzen player Lukas Kalvach, while Ondrej Lingr might have to make way for teen sensation Adam Hlozek.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Joao Cancelo, Domingos Duarte, Danilo Pereira, Raphael Guerreiro; Bruno Fernandes, Joao Palhilha, Joao Moutinho; Bernando Silva, Andre Silva, Rafael Leao.
Czech Republic (3-4-3): Tomas Vaclik; David Zima, Jakub Brabec, Ales Mateju; Vladimir Coufal, Tomas Soucek, Lukas Kalvach, Milan Havel; Adam Hlozek, Jan Kuchta, Jakub Pesek.
Though both teams cannot be separated in terms of recent form, the gulf between the teams when it comes to squad strength and experience of playing at the highest level is undeniable. Portugal is way ahead in those aspects, and hence, we have predicted Santos’ team to secure all three points from this game.