21st of March 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
Reigning European Champions Portugal kick off their qualification campaign for the 2020 final tournament with a home match, they host Ukraine at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Friday evening. The two teams are in Group B, along with Serbia, Lithuania and Luxembourg, and only the top two teams will qualify for the final tournament. However, Portugal, Ukraine and Serbia have a safety net, if they fail to finish in the top two they will automatically qualify for the play-off because they have won their UEFA Nations League groups last year. Portugal and Ukraine have met in the qualifying campaign for the 1998 World Cup and back then the Portuguese won 1-0 at home and lost 2-1 in Kyiv.
Portugal are the big favourites in Group B, but they will need to be careful both with Ukraine and Serbia, because any slip up could leave them outside the top two positions in the final group table. That does seem unlikely since Portugal are unbeaten in their last six matches and have won their UEFA Nations League group. Their latest match ended with a 1-1 home draw against Poland, a result which allowed Portugal to finish at the top of the Nations League group ahead of Italy. Cristiano Ronaldo will make his return in the national team in this match, he has not represented his nation since the 2018 World Cup.
Ukraine are starting this campaign with a lot of confidence because they have won their UEFA Nations League group last year and got promoted to the top tier of that competition. They have won three of their four Nations League matches and lost the last one 4-1 in Slovakia. After that match they played a friendly in Turkey, which ended goalless. Overall, Ukraine have lost just one of their last eleven matches in all competitions, but they didn't take part in last summer's World Cup. 19-year-old Vitaliy Mykolenko is the latest sensation in Ukrainian football and the Dynamo Kyiv full-back will most likely get a place in the starting eleven.
Portugal: Patricio - Cancelo, Pepe, Dias, Rui - B. Silva, Carvalho, Pizzi, Guerreiro - Ronaldo, A. Silva
Ukraine: Pyatov - Karavaev, Burda, Krivtsov, Mykolenko - Tsyganov, Marlos, Stepanenko, Malinovskyi, Zinchenko - Moraes
My prediction: Portugal to win 2-1, Cristiano Ronaldo will most likely celebrate his return with a goal.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Portugal win - 1.44
Draw - 4.50
Ukraine win - 9.00
21st of March 2019
22nd of March 2019
Portugal started their EURO 2020 campaign with a consecutive draws and even the fact that the opponents in those games have been quite decent ones that still should be considered as a poor start from them.
I'm expecting a lot of troubles for the Portuguese in that group and why not even the current European Champion to miss the chance of defending their title...quite possible.
Of course that's just an early prediction but one thing is for sure...it won't be easy at all for the favorite in the group to even getting out of it.
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