Preview: Azerbaijan vs Portugal – prediction, team news, lineups, where to watch
With the aim of returning to the top of Group A qualifying for the 2022 UEFA World Cup, Portugal will travel to Azerbaijan to conclude the international break in September on Tuesday night.
The hosts claimed their first Qualifying point with a 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland last time, while Portugal managed a 3-1 friendly win over Qatar.
Seemingly destined to exit Group A without a point to their name for a short time, Azerbaijan traveled to Aviva Stadium at the weekend to face Ireland after three consecutive losses to Portugal, Serbia, and Luxembourg in the World Ranking.
However, Giovanni De Biasi’s team surprised Stephen Kenny’s men at half-time with a goal from Emin Mahmudov, and took a header in the 87th minute from revitalized Brighton & Hove Albion player Shane Duffy to prevent Azerbaijan. will return home with the three points. .
However, that impressive result has done little to boost Azerbaijan’s bid for the rankings, as the 112th-ranked nation in the world remains at the bottom of the list with one point to its name, although Ireland is only ahead of their counterparts in goals scored.
While a morale-boosting draw with Ireland may lead to a slightly higher sense of optimism in De Biasi’s ranks, this week’s hosts can only boast just one win of their last 13 games in all tournaments before the meeting. to a team from Portugal desperate to regain the top. place in the group.
Once again forced to rely on the heroism of the timeless talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal came within minutes of suffering a humiliating defeat to Ireland before the Manchester United man rose twice as high to return home and become the top scorer. All-time international in men’s game history.
Fernando Santos then proceeded to make no fewer than 11 changes to his weekend friendly battle with host Qatar 2022, where goals from Bruno Fernandes, Andre Silva, and rookie Otavio contributed to a resounding 3-1 victory when Qatar ended up with nine men.
Santos’ team will renew hostilities with Qatar in a friendly next month, but they must first work to secure their rightful place in the 2022 tournament, as their narrow win over Ireland was not enough to keep them in first place in the Group. To last weekend.
Indeed, Serbia’s 4-1 win over Luxembourg has brought them to the top thanks to their superior goal difference, leaving Portugal in a very unfamiliar second place with 10 points, and a sixth consecutive appearance in the final of the World Cup is far from a certainty.
An own goal by Maksim Medvedev was all that could separate Azerbaijan and Portugal in the Selecao 1-0 win in March, and this week’s visitors have won their last five in a row against their opponents without sending a single. goal.
Azerbaijan will be forced to switch left-back after Anton Kryvotsiuk secured his second Qualifying reserve last time, so Azar Salahly could be drafted into the team.
Otherwise, the hosts have no new worries and have no reason to fix what was not broken in their draw against Ireland, but De Biasi could consider moving on to a five-man defense against the 2016 European champions.
Such a move could see Abbas Huseynov reintroduce himself into the fold, and 20-year-old winger Toral Bayramov could be the unlucky one to be euthanized.
As for Portugal, Ronaldo has been granted an early withdrawal from the team to join his Manchester United teammates but would have missed this match due to suspension anyway.
The 36-year-old’s absence could see Andre Silva keep his place at the top after scoring in the friendly win over Qatar, while Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota should reintroduce themselves into the attack.
Rubén Dias, Pepe, and Joao Cancelo are among the players who will be called up to the defense, while Rui Patricio should replace Anthony Lopes in his 99th international.
Azerbaijan possible starting lineup:
Mahammadaliyev; Huseynov, Medvedev, Haghverdi, Badalov, Salahly; Alasgarov, Qarayev, Mahmudov, Ozobic; Emreli
Portugal possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Cancelo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Palhinha, B. Silva, Fernandes; R. Silva, A. Silva, Jota
We say: Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal
Azerbaijan has proven to be a resilient team when under pressure, and the absence of the Ronaldo record is certainly a huge boost for the enthusiastic hosts.
However, the absence of the United man allows players like Andre Silva and Jota a chance to shine for their country, and while Portugal cannot expect a comfortable victory, we continue to back a routine two-goal win for Santos’ side.