nations league results and tables
Nations League - League 1, Group 3
Sweden 0-2 Portugal (Solna)
(Cristiano Ronaldo 45+1, 72)
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the team after a toe infection, replacing Digo Jota from the Croatia win three days before. Portugal’s performance wasn’t quite as accomplished as against Croatia, but in the second half they came close. The games also saw a new milestone in the career of the legend that is Cristiano Ronaldo. On 45+1 minutes he curled a free kick from 25 metres into the top left-hand corner of the net for his 100th Seleção goal - a series that began in the first match of the 2004 Euros in Portugal, against Greece. He sometimes seems to inhibit the other players in the team from performing to their very highest standards, preoccupied as they are in serving him, but in the second half especially, CR was fully integrated into the slick, sparkling football of the Croatia game. And he even clinched the points with a superb curling shot on the run on 72 minutes.
When asked if Cristiano made the difference, coach Fernando Santos said: “That’s a La Palice truism.”
Portugal and France top the group on maximum points; the play each other next.
Portugal: Anthony Lopes, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo, João Moutinho (Rúben Neves 73), Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva (Gonçalo Guedes 22), João Félix, Cristiano Ronaldo (Diogo Jota 81).
Nations League - League 1, Group 3
Portugal 4-1 Croatia (Estádio do Dragão, Porto)
(Cancelo 41, Diogo Jota 58, João Félix 70, André Silva 90+4 / Petkovic 90+1)
The Seleção were without their captain and spearhead Cristiano Ronaldo, sidelined with an infected toe, so this was a kind of test to see what the team might look like post-CR. The truth is that they passed the test with flying colours, against, let us remember, the country that were runners-up in the 2018 World Cup.
Portugal were superb from the word ‘go’. Fernando Santos had selected a team full of ball-players and they proceeded to do just that, playing the ball along the back, through midfield, in intricate triangles entering the box. Croatia, without Modric and Rakitic, had no answer for it, and when Portugal lost the ball, they were pressing and getting it back at an encouraging rate.
The only negative aspect was that Portugal weren’t able to get the ball in the net, thanks in large part to the useful keeper Livakovic. They did hit the post three times - through Diogo Jota, João Félix and Guerreiro - and such was Portugal’s dominance that it came as no surprise when they eventually went in front, João Cancelo cutting in from the right and putting a trivela past Livakovic’s right hand.
The second half wasn’t as accomplished as the first but Portugal paradoxically got more goals than in the first. Diogo Jota broke into the area on the left and made it 2-0 on 58 minutes, his insistence paying off in the face of Croatian challenges; it was his first senior goal for the Seleção. On 70 minutes João Félix got his first senior Seleção goal, dragging the ball across the face of the area before cracking a shot through Livakovic from 25 metres. Portugal could be excused for taking their foot off the gas slightly, while several changes (but not until the last 15 minutes) disrupted the well-oiled machine a little, and so Croatia pulled one back through Petkovic in added time, João Cancelo losing the ball on the right. With the last kick of the match, sub André Silva bundled the ball in at the left-hand post to give the scoreline a more representative feel.
Coach Fernando Santos was understandably pleased: “For what they did during the week, the players showed me that it was possible to put in a good performance ... These players know each other well, and the job was to remember what was done in training. The team were up to the job 100%. There were some spells that were less good, but that’s football.”
In fact you’d need a microscope to find the “less good” spells. This was a thoroughly convincing performance from a CR-less side and augurs very well for the future.
Portugal: Anthony Lopes, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, João Moutinho (Sérgio Oliveira 82), Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva (Francisco Trincão 79), João Félix (André Silva 87)
Fernando Santos announced his squad for the upcoming Nations League group games against Croatia (05/09, Dragão) and Sweden (08/09, Solna)
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Wolves), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: João Cancelo (Man City), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), Domingos Duarte (Granada), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Mário Rui (Napoli), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira & Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), Rúben Neves & João Moutinho (Wolves), André Gomes (Everton), Bruno Fernandes (Man United), Renato Sanches (Lille) [withdrew through injury]
Forwards: Diogo Jota (Wolves), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Trincão (Barcelona), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Gonçalo Guedes (Valência), João Félix (Atlético Madrid)
In relation to the squad for Lithuania and Luxembourg in November, out are: Beto, Ricardo Pereira, Rúben Semedo, João Mário, Pizzi, Bruma, Podence, Éder.
Rui Silva and Trincão are in the senior squad for the first time.
The FPF announced the Seleção’s fixtures up until the end of the year:
Nations League (Group 3, League A)
05/09/20 (Estádio do Dragão, Porto, 19.45)
Portugal v Croatia
08/09/20 (Solna, 19.45)
Sweden v Portugal
France v Portugal
Portugal v Sweden (Alvalade, Lisbon)
Portugal v France (Luz, Lisbon)
Croatia v Portugal
Portugal v Spain (Alvalade, Lisbon)
Portugal v Andorra (Luz, Lisbon)