Portugal vs Croatia LiveL Portugal welcome 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists Croatia to the Estadio Algarve on Thursday for an international friendly. The game will be a useful warm-up for both sides ahead of their opening matches of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
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Date: Thursday, September 6
Time: 7:45 p.m. (BST), 2:45 p.m. (ET)
Odds: Portugal win 11-8, Croatia win 11-5, Draw 21-10
Live Stream/TV Info: ESPN+ (U.S.)
Portugal will have to make do without captain and inspiration Cristiano Ronaldo for their two games during the international break, as he is not part of the squad.
Coach Fernando Santos has explained why he has not selected the Juventus star, per BBC Sport.
He said: “After talking to the player, and after he moved to Juventus with all the processes of adaptation that entails, we understand it was best for him to not be present for these games.”
Joao Moutinho, Ricardo Quaresma and Adrien Silva are also omitted. But Santos has recalled Ruben Neves, Joao Cancelo and Renato Sanches, who all missed the World Cup.
Croatia will once again look to Luka Modric for inspiration. The midfielder has enjoyed a superb 2018 and has been named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year ahead of Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah.
This looks a closely matched game between two quality sides. Ronaldo’s absence is a big blow to Portugal, and they will need to prove they can cope without their star man.
There’s still plenty of experience throughout the team. Pepe, William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva are quality players who know all about the demands of international football.
Portugal will face a tough test against a Croatia side that came agonisingly close to glory in Russia over the summer.
Dalic has made changes to his squad, and there’s no room for Mario Mandzukic, Vedran Corluka, Danijel Subasic or Nikola Kalinic:
ristiano Ronaldo is a major doubt for the hosts after being struck down with a foot infection.
Barcelona starlet Trincao is part of the squad and may feature, while Man Utd’s Bruno Fernandes looks set to start in midfield.
For Croatia, they will have to make do without injured duo Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who will also miss the clash with France.