Portugal begin the defense of their UEFA Nations League crown by playing host to Croatia on Saturday night in Porto.
11 months on since defeating Luxembourg 2-0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier, Portugal finally return to action hoping to kick-start the defense of their Nations League title by beating Croatia.
Fernando Santos’ men, who won the competition last time out through a 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final last year, are in Group A3 with Croatia, France, and Sweden.
Portugal Form & Team News
The big news coming out of the Portugal camp was Cristiano Ronaldo’s no-show for training on Wednesday and Thursday due to an infected toe. He is currently undergoing antibiotic treatment.
No further updates have been released yet, pouring doubts into his availability for Saturday. Hopes of breaking the 100-goal barrier, therefore, may have to wait until Sweden on Tuesday.
The captain’s potential absence could prove costly for Portugal. They may have won seven of their last eight games before international football was suspended, but Ronaldo supplied 14 of their 25 goals.
Although Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Ruben Neves will be on hand. Francisco Trincao, who recently joined Barcelona, is hoping to make his debut along with Rui Silva and Domingos Duarte.
Croatia Form & Teams News
One win in four games ended Croatia’s inaugural Nations League campaign on a sour note. However, they topped Group E in their Euro 2020 qualification campaign and are unbeaten in six matches.
But Zlatko Dalic, whose team have scored 14 goals in as many games, has suggested their focus may lie elsewhere. While the Croatia boss stressed the importance of the Nations League, his primary goals are the European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.
The 2018 World Cup finalists will also have to make do without star players Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Goalkeeper Marin Pongracic, meanwhile, dropped out of the squad due to illness. Therefore, Dalic has called up Antonio Colak, Ante Budimir, and Mile Skoric.
|19/06/1996||Croatia vs Portugal||0-3||Euro 1996|
|12/11/2005||Portugal vs Croatia||2-0||Friendly|
|10/06/2013||Croatia vs Portugal||0-1||Friendly|
|25/06/2016||Croatia vs Portugal||0-1||Euro 2016|
|06/09/2018||Portugal vs Croatia||1-1||Friendly|
With or without Ronaldo, Portugal seem a decent bet for victory. They have several in-form players, namely Fernandes and Silva, and home advantage on top of that. While Croatia may suffer without Modric and Rakitic dictating the midfield.
According to Oddschecker, the hosts are priced at 66/67 on VBET for victory. Bet365, meanwhile, has priced a draw at 13/5 and a Croatia victory is available at 10/3 on Betfred.
Going for Under 2.5 goals with VBET (3/4) seems a viable bet on Oddschecker at the time of writing. Especially as both sides could miss key players for the showdown in Porto.
All odds correct at the time of writing and susceptible to change.