Portugal v Austria - Expert v Expert Preview


Portugal faced a backlash from their national press after a shock 1-1 draw with Iceland in their opening Group F fixture and will be fired up against Austria on Saturday.

The Austrians have not coveted themselves in glory either following their 2-0 defeat to group minnows Hungary.

Both sides desperately need a win not only to aid their progression to the last-16 but also to restore some confidence.

Here are experts Tom Kundert and @SchnitzelSoccer to talk us through the game.

 

TEAM NEWS

Tom Kundert: Defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira picked up a back injury in the opener against Iceland and is likely to be replaced by William Carvalho. Coach Fernando Santos said he will make changes “to keep players fresh”. Right-back Vieirinha and midfielders Joao Moutinho and Joao Mario are reasonable candidates to be rested after less than stellar performances against Iceland, with Cedric Soares, Adrien and Renato Sanches possibly stepping in.

@SchnitzelSoccer: Nearly everything went wrong for Austria against Hungary. Not only because of the disappointing result (0-2), but also due to the consequences for the next game. Aleksandar Dragovic (suspended after he was sent off) and Zlatko Junuzovic (injured) two of Austria's most important players are missing the face-off with Portugal.

Sebastian Prödl will start instead of Dragovic as the right centre-back. The Watford defender lacks pace, which could be a handicap against Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is experienced and very strong in the air. Marcel Sabitzer and Alessandro Schöpf are manager Marcel Koller's obvious options to replace Junuzovic. However, Koller will probably push David Alaba forward to bring in Leipzig's Stefan Ilsanker as an enforcer in midfield. This should strengthen the defence. Additionally, some question marks hang over the starts of Martin Harnik and Marc Janko. Both had a terrible game against Hungary.

 

FORM

Tom Kundert: The near-euphoria going into the tournament on the back of the 7-0 win over Estonia in the final warmup match evaporated quickly following the 1-1 draw against Iceland. Nevertheless, after the initial disappointment subsides, Portugal will realise that despite not winning the game they dominated the match (27 total attempts on goal, the highest of any team in the opening round of Euro 2016 matches) and were a little unlucky not to come away with three points. Improve their finishing and Portugal will stand a good chance of getting back to winning ways against Austria.

@SchnitzelSoccer: The whole country was shocked by Austria's disastrous performance in the opening game. Bad results in the friendlies prior to the Euros seem to have unsettled the players. The defence lacks compactness, while the pass accuracy dropped from around 85 percent in the qualifiers to 62 percent against Hungary. That's awful. The players have to deliver now and show what they are capable of. Maybe they can benefit from their underdog status against Portugal.

 

KEY MAN

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Tom Kundert: It’s not terribly original, but that does not make it untrue. If Portugal are to thrive in this tournament they will need their captain Cristiano Ronaldo to be at his usual level. The Real Madrid man uncharacteristically missed two clear chances against Iceland. The last time he had a disappointing match at a European Championship, against Denmark in 2012, he followed it up with a majestic display, destroying the Netherlands in the very next game. Portugal fans will be hoping history repeats itself in Paris on Saturday night.

@SchnitzelSoccer: Julian Baumgartlinger was Austria's best player against Hungary. The defensive midfielder has earned himself a move to Leverkusen after a fantastic season for Mainz. A Man of the Match performance for Austria's ball-winning machine will be vital against Portugal's tricky star players. Baumgartlinger has to help the back four prevent Ronaldo, Nani and co. from scoring.

 

SURE THING

Tom Kundert: Portugal coach Fernando Santos said he expected an open game and with both sides needing victory we could at last see a clash with plenty of goals in this tournament. Both teams getting on the scoresheet at 2.14 looks a good bet. 

@SchnitzelSoccer: Austria's defence has been pretty poor lately. Additionally, their best centre back Dragovic misses the game due to suspension. Hence a clean sheet is very unlikely. Portugal to score at 1.24 seems to be safe bet.

 

LONG SHOT

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Tom Kundert: Ronaldo will not be overly worried about the negative publicity his post-match comments against Iceland attracted, but he will certainly be happier if the media are writing about his goals rather than his utterances come Saturday night. Ronaldo to score at least two goals at 21.00 is very tempting.

@SchnitzelSoccer: Schöpf is Austria's shooting star at the moment. He grasped his first international goal against Malta just three weeks ago and was a bright spark against Hungary. Due to his good form I can see him scoring at 7.50.

 

SCORE PREDICTION

Tom Kundert: Portugal 3-1 Austria at 17.00.

@SchnitzelSoccer: Portugal 1-1 Austria at 6.75.