Match Preview: Serbia vs Portugal

European champions Portugal travel to Belgrade, looking to register their first win in the UEFA EURO qualifiers.

Portugal opened the European Qualifiers with two draws in two games (0-0 vs Ukraine and 1-1 vs Serbia), both at home back in March.

The reigning champions missed the June session, as they hosted and appeared in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Finals.

They defeated Switzerland in the semi-finals and Netherlands in the final, becoming the first-ever winners of the competition.

Serbia, on the other hand, has collected four points from three games so far in the qualifiers. After an opening 1-1 draw in Portugal and a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Ukraine in the second round, the Eagles thumped Lithuania 4-1 in their last outing.

Team news

Aleksandar Mitrovic is set to earn his 50th cap for the Serbia National Team, with the new Real Madrid star Luka Jovic and Ajax captain Dusan Tadic alongside him in the attacking line.

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has not started a Premier League game for the Red Devils this season, meaning his place in the Eagles’ starting eleven is also not guaranteed at the moment.

Portugal travel to Serbia without Pepe, who is out through injury, while Benfica defender Ferro could make his debut for the national team after impressing in the league this season.

Wolverhampton midfielder Jota is also in line to earn his first Portugal cap but only from the bench, with Joao Felix expected to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner in the attack from the start.

Talk to the press

Ljubisa Tumbakovic will lead the Serbia National Team for the first time since his appointment in July.

Franck Ribery, Fiorentina

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“It is not fair to say that I am making my debut in these years,” the Serbian coach said with a smile at the last press conference before the duel with Portugal. 

“I have more than 1000 games behind me as a manager. I am a bit nervous, always been, but it is under control. There is no head coach who is not nervous before such an occasion. The one who says he isn’t – he is definitely lying.

“I had sweet troubles with the team, because I can not do any mistakes. We play a mini-league in the remaining five games and every mistake, if you don’t get organized or get the best out of the team, is expensive and there is almost no time to fix it.

“They suffered their last defeat in the FIFA World Cup last summer. Besides that, conceded a goal from open play a year ago for the final time. But we are ready, we know their strengths and their flaws and have a certain plan how to approach the game.”

Stats

Portugal’s UEFA Nations League triumph saw them win their second major title in three years, along with the UEFA EURO 2016.

The European champions are unbeaten since the FIFA World Cup round of 16 encounter with Uruguay back in June 2018 – they’ve played 10 games in the period (5W and 5D)

Serbia’s defeat to Ukraine a few months ago is their only since the World Cup in Russia last summer.

The Eagles’ last home defeat goes back to October 2015, registering six wins and three draws in nine competitive games since then.

Portugal is the last team that went home from Belgrade with all three points. The Portuguese side has actually never lost to Serbia in ther five meetings in the European Qualifiers. (2W and 3D)

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in each of Serbia’s last four home games. Can he make it five in a row?

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