Friday, October 11, 2013
Portugal vs Israel
Currently sitting a point behind Russia in Group F, Portugal will be hoping to keep the pressure on with a victory against Israel on Friday. Indeed Portugal will be able to leapfrog Russia with a win, should Fabio Capello's team somehow fail to win in Luxembourg. Israel are currently right behind Portugal in third place, and their dreams of World Cup qualification will end unless they can pull off a massive upset and secure a victory.
However, they'll take heart from the scare they gave Portugal at home back in March, when two last-gasp goals from Hélder Postiga and Fabio Coentrão saw the visitors come back from 3-1 down to rescue a point in the dying seconds of the game. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that Paulo Bento's team will find themselves in such a vulnerable position at home.
Then again, they do have a string of injury problems which will see the coach forced into fielding a completely unfamiliar back line, with with full-backs Fabio Coentrão, João Pereira and Miguel Lopes, and centre-back Bruno Alves all unavailable. What's more, experienced striker Hélder Postiga is out suspended and winger Vieirinha injured, leaving Bento with selection dilemmas in attack as well as defence.
Israel have had their fitness and injury concerns too, though it'll be interesting to see whether they can take advantage of Portugal's problems in Lisbon.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Vitorino Antunes, Pepe, Luis Neto, Cédric Soares; Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho; Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Nani
Israel: Dudu Aouate; Ofir Davidzada, Dekel Keinan, Tal Ben Haim, Sheran Yeini; Gal Alberman, Bibras Natkho; Lior Refaelov, Elyaniv Barda, Maor Melikson; Eran Zahavi