Portugal will endeavour to reclaim top spot in World Cup 2022 Qualifying Group A, when they travel to Dublin to face the Republic of Ireland on Thursday evening.
There is nothing but pride on the line for the Republic of Ireland. Stephen Kenny’s men are already knocked out and facing the end of their doomed qualification campaign.
Conversely, apart from one loss against current group leaders Serbia, World Cup 2022 Qualifying has so far gone exactly to plan for Portugal. They currently sit in second place in the group, but with a game in hand.
Ireland have been forced into a late change with Callum O’Dowda replacing James Collins, as the Cardiff City forward has been ruled out due to injury. Meanwhile, Aaron Connolly has not been selected for the squad.
Jayson Molumby and Alan Browne are both available, after serving suspensions in the match against Azerbaijan. This means that Daryl Horgan’s spot in the XI is now at risk.
Teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu kept out a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty during Ireland’s most recent encounter with Portugal. The young shot-stopper is sure to start between the Republic of Ireland sticks again.
Meanwhile, Portugal trio Anthony Lopes, Rafa Silva and João Mário will play no part in November’s fixtures due to injury, but there may a spot in the team for uncapped goalkeeper José Sá.
Fernando Santos will have one eye on the meeting with Serbia at the weekend, but the Portugal boss should field his strongest XI here. Therefore, Cristiano Ronaldo should be joined by Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva in the Portuguese attack.
João Cancelo may well continue at left-back, with Nuno Mendes set to serve a suspension. This means that Diogo Dalot should earn a start on the right side of the defence.
The Portuguese should be easily too strong for the Republic of Ireland. Our prediction is a 3-0 stroll in Dublin for Cristiano Ronaldo and co.