Portugal look to avoid another big upset in the World Cup qualifiers as Fernando Santos’ side host North Macedônia. The guests beat both Germany and Italy as well as appeared in the first-ever tournament last summer in the form of Euro 2020.
Portugal looked comfortable against Turkey
Apart from a space of a few minutes where it could all go wrong if Burak Yilmaz converted his penalty-kick to tie the game, Portugal was dominant against Turkey in the sides’ playoff fixture last Thursday.
In his first start in a competitive game for Portugal, Porto’s midfielder Otavio had a spectacular night. He bagged a goal and an assist to Diogo Jota while two late substitutes were involved in Portugal’s insurance goal.
With absentees to the side including the Manchester City duo Ruben Diaz and Joao Cancelo and a center-back pairing of Danilo Perreira and Jose Fonte, Portugal fans feared for the worst ahead of the game. But they ended up witnessing one of the best performances of the side since winning the Nations League.
When and where to watch?
The match kicks off at 19:45 on Tuesday 29th March 2022, and the entire match will be available on Sky Sports
Former Palermo man Trajkovski stunned Italy in Palermo
Despite all their dominance and 32 shots attempted, Italy failed to create big chances against North Macedonia. And, in the end, it only took a second golden opportunity for North Macedonia to lose it all.
Having spent four years in Palermo, Aleksandar Trajkovski knew the surroundings too well at night. And he did punish Italy with a well-taken strike from range as North Macedonia booked their place in the playoff final in injury-time.
As they also beat Germany last year in the World Cup qualifying group stage, North Macedonia would approach this game full of confidence. And they’ll have their best player back in the side as Eljaf Elmas returns from suspension.
First competitive meeting between the sides
The two sides only met in two friendly games in the last two decades. Luis Figo is the only player who scored in this fixture when he netted Portugal’s winner in a game staged at Macedonia back in 2003.
Portugal & North Macedonia Team News
While Diaz is still missing through injury, Portugal will welcome back Cancelo and Pepe in their defense. Ruben Neves and Renato Sanches are the other notable absentees from Portugal’s camp.
The big news for North Macedonia is the return of chief creator Elmas. Trajkovski is expected to lead the line alongside Ristovski.
Better outcome for Portugal but they need to keep their focus
Although Portugal would like to avoid European champions Italy on paper, they will still need to not take North Macedonia lightly. Their opponent had two great wins away from home that could give them all the confidence for the final qualifying game. But Portugal is expected to book their World Cup ticket through the playoffs for the third time in the last four editions.
Portugal to win1/10 (1.10) 888SportBruno Fernandes to score anytime6/1 (7.00) 888SportCristiano Ronaldo to score anytime15/8 (2.87)888Sport