UEFA Nations League title holders Portugal will start off their 2020-21 campaign as they take on Croatia at the Estadio do Dragao in League A Group 3 on Saturday night. The two teams had contrasting fortunes in the last season with Croatia having a rather dismal outing, picking up just one win from four matches.
Portugal beat Netherlands in the final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League and is all set to play out a cracker of a match against the 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia. Both teams will be focused on using the occasion to prepare for next summer's European Championships.
Croatia also had a strong qualification campaign for the Euros and finished top of their group collecting 17 points from eight games. They will be desperate to make an impression in the UEFA Nations League this time around but have quite a task on their hands as they take on Portugal.
To make things more interesting, habitual record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo is one goal shy of becoming the first European player to score 100 international goals. Will he be able to do that against the Croats or will they force him to wait?
Portugal vs Croatia Head-to-Head
Portugal and Croatia have played each other five times in the past. Croatia have never won against Saturday's opponents. Portugal have won three times and two games have ended in a draw.
The last time these two teams met was in September 2018 and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Portugal form guide: WWLWW
Croatia form guide: DWDWW
Portugal vs Croatia Team News
Barcelona youngster Francisco Trincao has earned a call up to the international squad for the first time and could feature against Croatia. Goalkeeper Rui Silva and Domingos Duarte could also make their first appearances for the national side.
Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves are expected to be fielded in midfield.
Croatia are without two of their best players. Neither Luka Modric nor Ivan Rakitic have been included in the squad and it will be interesting to see just how much influence the Croats will be able to exert in midfield in the absence of their experienced veterans.
In their absence, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic are expected to start in midfield.
Portugal vs Croatia Predicted Lineups
Portugal predicted XI: Rui Patricio; Nelson Semedo, Jose Fonte, Ruben Dias, Guerreiro; Ruben Neves, Danilo, Bruno Fernandes; Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva
Croatia predicted XI: Dominik Livakovic; Tin Jedvaj, Dejan Lovren, Caleta-Car, Borno Barisic; Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Ivan Perisic, Nikola Vlasic, Ante Rebic; Bruno Petkovic
Portugal vs Croatia Prediction
Cristiano Ronaldo is looking for his 100th goal and will be raring to tear into Croatia. Portugal have one of the strongest lineups among all the national teams and have a number of in-form players like Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves in the side.
Croatia will miss the control and steadiness that the Rakitic-Modric duo gives them in midfield.
Prediction: Portugal 2-0 CroatiaPublished 04 Sep 2020, 12:47 IST