The football rivalry Portugal vs Spain is one of the oldest at the national level. Portugal and Spain prepare for head-to-head in UEFA Nations League A Group 2 at the Estadio Municipal on Tuesday evening, with a position in the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League Finals on the line.
In their most recent match, Fernando Santos’ men defeated the Czech Republic 4-0, while their Iberian opponents lost their lead with a 2-1 loss to Switzerland.
All eyes will be on Group 2 of the UEFA Nations League, as previous champions Portugal face off against Spain for the top spot. The home team is coming off a 4-0 win away to the Czech Republic and will be full of confidence going into the contest.
Despite their brilliance, Luis Enrique’s Spain has underperformed, losing 2-1 at home to Switzerland last week. This puts them up against Selecao, who has the ability to ramp up the style on their day.
In recent years, the games between the two teams have been tense affairs. In fact, their last five games in all competitions have all resulted in draws, with three of them being scoreless. While a draw would enough for Portugal on the night, Spain has no choice but to go for it. La Furia Roja will finish third in the group if they lose and Switzerland wins. Given that they were leading the group at the end of match week four, it would be a massive collapse.
In the rematch earlier this year, both teams were held to a 1-1 tie. Spain holds the advantage in the match, having won 18 of the 40 previous matchups. Portugal has only won six games, but they are the favorites and are in the superior condition right now. In game week six, the two Iberian giants will engage in a spectacular battle.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both teams might line up on the night and what strategies they might use.
When, Where and How to watch Portugal vs Spain:
- Date: Tuesday, Sept. 27 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Estadio Municipal de Braga — Braga, Portugal
- TV and live stream: fuboTV (try for free) or Paramount+ (Try it free)
Preview of the game Portugal vs Spain:
Is there no Joao Cancelo? Portugal has no issues. The Manchester City man was forced to sit out Saturday’s game against the Czech Republic, but Diogo Dalot filled in admirably with a brace in the 4-0 victory.
Diogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes also scored as Santos’ side gave themselves the best possible chance of reaching the Nations League Finals and, with it, winning their second competition crown in three years.
With 10 points from a possible 15, the 2018-19 champions have surpassed Spain to take top place in the table with one game remaining. A draw would be sufficient for the Selecao to qualify for the four-team finals, but three points will still be crucial.
Portugal’s third clean sheet in their previous four Nations League games and the Selecao have only surrendered two goals in the whole campaign – the best defensive record of any of the 16 teams in League A.
Santos’ team also welcomes Spain to their headquarters after winning their past four home matches in all competitions, and they have only lost two of their nine Nations League games in front of their own fans.
A win over Switzerland would have put Spain in the lead heading into matchday five, but the fate of Luis Enrique’s side is now out of their hands following a 2-1 setback to the Rossocrociati at the weekend.
Jordi Alba had leveled for La Roja after Manuel Akanji’s 21st-minute goal, but Breel Embolo equalized for Spain not long after the former had restored parity, condemning the hosts to their first home defeat in over four years.
Enrique, who controversially went without a recognized striker in favor of Alvaro Morata warming the bench, made no apologies after the game, alleging that his team made more errors in the 90 minutes than in any other Roja match he had supervised.
Only a win will do for last year’s runners-up in Braga, who are now compelled to adopt a gung-ho style in their effort to make the Nations League finals, although Alba’s equalizer on Saturday marked Spain’s 19th consecutive game with a goal.
On matchday one, Enrique’s team was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Portugal, with Ricardo Horta scoring a late equalizer to Morata’s opening, marking the fourth stalemate in a straight between the two Iberian nations – such a scoreline would favor the Selecao more than the visitors here.
Team News and Strategies Portugal vs Spain
The Selecao were clinical in their performance against the Czech Republic, winning 4-0. The victory returned them to the top of Group 2, and they will head into the final game as favorites to maintain their lead.
Portugal has also kept three clean sheets in their last four games in the competition, giving them reason to be hopeful about the outcome. If Fernando Santos’ team does not lose on the night, they should finish at the top of the group.
The 4-2-3-1 formation worked well against the Czech Republic, and Santos is expected to use it again on Tuesday. The double pivot will also provide enough cover for the Portuguese backline, relieving pressure on Bruno Fernandes to race back and defend. This will free up the Manchester United player to do what he does best: create opportunities and break down opposing defenses.
Diogo Costa will continue to play in goal, with a back four of Diogo Dalot, Ruben Dias, Danilo Pereira, and the returning Joao Cancelo. Ruben Neves will form part of a double pivot with Joao Palhinha, who will take the place of William Carvalho in the starting lineup.
Bruno Fernandes will return to the number ten position and will be in charge of creating opportunities for Cristiano Ronaldo alongside Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva. Diogo Jota scored against the Czech Republic and will serve as a substitute if needed.
Lineups: Costa; Dalot, Dias, Pereira, Cancelo; Palhinha, Neves; Silva, Fernandes, Leao; Ronaldo (4-2-3-1)
Luis Enrique omitted Dani Carvajal and Diego Llorente from the match against Switzerland for fear of receiving a yellow card, which would put them out of the crucial match against Spain. The manager of La Furia Roja now has no choice but to field a complete squad on the night as the visitors seek all three points.
Anything less than a victory will be insufficient for Spain’s aspirations to finish first in the league. Enrique is set to field a 4-3-3 formation on the night, looking to establish an early advantage. A quick start is essential, and anything less will hand the initiative to the home team.
Unai Simon will start in goal, with Dani Carvajal, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, and Jordi Alba forming the back four. Rodri, of Manchester City, will be the lynchpin in midfield and will be eager to restrain Fernandes. This should stifle the home team’s offensive and allow Spain to do what they do best: keep possession of the ball.
Pedri and Koke will make up the midfield numbers, hoping to outwit Portugal’s double pivot. It should be an exciting game as the visitors attempt to break through the home team’s stout defense. Alvaro Morata will spearhead the attack, assisted by Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia.
Lineups: Simon; Carvajal, Garcia, Torres, Alba; Koke, Rodri, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Torres; (4-3-3):
Key Points Portugal vs Spain
- Spain has won 18 of the 40 encounters between the two teams in all competitions, while Portugal has won only six.
- Portugal has only surrendered twice in five UEFA Nations League games and has the greatest defense of any of the 16 League A clubs.
- The last five meetings between the two teams have finished in a tie after 90 minutes. Another stalemate on the night will extend the streak of games in which neither club has managed to win.
- Portugal last defeated Spain in a competitive match during the Euro 2004 competition.
Portugal vs Spain Prediction:
Portugal defeated Spain 2-1.
Portugal is not only in better shape right now, but they also appear to be a more stable team. Santos and his men will have no excuse to throw away the initiative on the night, with home support cheering them on. Spain is now out of sorts and has been underwhelming throughout the competition. On the night, there will be one Iberian team rejoicing, and Portugal appears to be the favorite.