UEFA Euro 2016 finishes up with the group stage today, and Group F heavyweights Portugal would have least expected to be in their current situation. Third in the group with two points from two tame draws, they are going up against the group leaders Hungary, low on morale and with their star player Cristiano Ronaldo under intense criticism for not stepping up to the occasion. It also doesn’t help that his interview after the Iceland game came off as petulant.
It is up to the rest of the team to pull their weight behind Ronaldo as Portugal faces their toughest test yet, against the surprise group leaders. Lack of composure remains their biggest enemy as they have 50 shots on goal with only a single one converted. Fernando Santos will look to these key men to turn the tide in his favour.
Hungary have a rigid work ethic and are tireless throughout the game. The squad is a wonderful mix of experienced players and youth. They were expected to bow out in the group stages, however, they are well poised to qualify. With a well-balanced squad unlike the Portuguese, this could turn to be a historic night in the Stade de Lyon.
The Fenerbahçe winger has been deployed in an unconventional centre-forward role by Portuguese coach Fernando Santos. Since the retirement of Hugo Almeida, the team has been left without a true centre forward. But Nani has flitted into the role effortlessly, and has scored Portugal’s lone goal at the football tournament in France.
The Portuguese vice-captain is all set to make his 99th appearance against the Hungarians and would be desperate to qualify for the next round to cap his 100th appearance. He has been a standout performer for Portugal in the previous two games and he will look to carry on the good form against the consistent Hungarians.