What to expect from Portugal vs Nigeria friendly

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Nigeria is set to clash with Portugal in an high profile friendly in San Jose, Lisbon and it will be Portugal’s last game before flying to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

It’ll be mean little more than a friendly, as Fernando Santos will look to fine tune all strategies ahead of the tournament and prepare his boys for the encounter against Ghana; Nigeria’s West African neighbors.

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Portugal are definitely the bookies favourite to win this encounter, but given the current form and performance of Nigerian players for their respective club sides, you can’t rule out the chances of an upset.

As regards playing style, the Portuguese boasts of more technically gifted players.

They have the likes of Bruno Fernandez, Vitinha, Cancelo and Bernardo silva pulling strings on the creative side and are expected to dictate the game pace and flow.

Seleção also have players capable of stretching the game through the flanks in Rafael Leao and Joao Felix, both are players known for there pace and trickery, and are capable of taking on any opposition Defender.

The Nigerian defence will also have to keep an eye on the marauding runs of fullbacks, João Cancelo and Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro, and with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line in attack there is no need trying to overemphasize what the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner is capable of in front of goal.

Portugal are also not lacking in defence as they will most likely line up with the Defensive pairing of Man City’s Ruben Dias and PSG’s Danilo Pereira, former Real Madrid power house Pepe is also set to be available.

While in the goalkeeping department, it will be a contest between 34 year-old Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio and 23 year-old Porto shot stopper, Diogo Costa, but it’s left to see if Santos will choose youth over experience.

Predicted Portugal line up: Diogo Costa; Raphael Guerreiro, Ruben Dias, Danilo Pereira, João Cancelo; Bruno Fernandez, William Carvalho, Ruben Neves; Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Leao (4-3-3).

Nigeria will also be feeling confident of their chances against the former European champions and in some way atone for failing to qualify to the Qatar showpiece.

Jose Peseiro is all to familiar with the opponent, as the Portuguese gaffer will try to plot the defeat of his native country, Portugal, with Nigeria.

He will be spoilt for choice and Portugal won’t definitely approach the encounter feeling superior.

As regards playing style, Nigeria may have to alter how they approach the game and will be more direct as they can’t expect to have more of the ball.

Also, the absence of Victor Osimhen for this fixture, means the team will mostly rely on Paul Onuachu to lead the line.

The 28 year-old has been in red hot form for KRC Genk, as his 13 goals in 14 appearance has helped to fire his side top of the Belgium Jupiler Pro League.

Nigeria also has in form Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman, who has been a revelation in the Serie A and his ability to start up front in a two prong attack and on the left flank of a front three will be useful for Jose Peseiro as he can choose to tinker.

Lookman has also proven to be reliable in front of goal – with 7 goals in 15 appearances for Atalanta – and should Peseiro not choose to go with Onuachu he has another option in Lorient sensation, Terem Moffi who has 10 league goals in 14 games in France.

Nigeria will have Wilfred Ndidi available for this encounter and with Iwobi certainly in form, the Super Eagles Coach will have the middle of the pack covered, even if, I personally feel Raphael Onyedika should have been invited.

It would have allowed for a double pivot pairing with Ndidi, while Iwobi will pull the string as no. 10.

But it’s all good as Joe Aribo and Frank Onyeka bring energy and steel to the midfield, they are also capable of breaking defensive lines and contributing there own quota in attack.

In defense, Jose Peseiro might have a real selection headache, with injuries forcing some regulars to opt out of this game.

Nonetheless, the Gaffer still has William Troost-Ekong, Kevin Akpoguma and Calvin Bassey to select from, with the likes of Tyronne Ebuehi, Bruno Onyemaechi and Ebube Duru also in the mix.

The goalkeeping department is one for concern for the Super Eagles as it doesn’t look like team’s strongest unit right now.

However with the return of Maduka Okoye, the first choice spot will be keenly contested and Francis Uzoho will have a big challenge on his hands.

Predicted Nigeria Lineup: Uzoho; Ebuehi, Ekong, Akpoguma, Bassey; Ndidi, Aribo, Iwobi; Lookman, Onuachu, Simon (4-3-3).

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