The pressure is on Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal ahead of a top-of-the-table clash against Serbia in their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.
It’s a top-of-the-table clash in Group A as Serbia and Portugal lock horns on Saturday night for the second match of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.
The last time these two sides met ended in a six-goal thriller in September 2019. In a European qualifier, Portugal won 4-2 in the Balkan nation. William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Bernardo Silva all scored to condemn Serbia to a third defeat in six matches against Fernando Santos’ men (D3).
That said, this is probably Portugal’s toughest fixture in Group A on paper. Serbia have underachieved lately, but the hosts have the attacking quality to trouble any defense to set-up possibly another mouthwatering contest.
Serbia Form & Stats
Despite his dry spell at Fulham, Aleksandar Mitrovic had no problems on his return to international duty. The striker’s second-half brace sealed Serbia a 3-2 win over Ireland in their Group A opener, despite only playing 27 minutes. If Mitrovic scores again, he’ll surpass Stjepan Bobek as the national team’s record scorer on 39 goals.
Mitrovic’s return to form is a welcome bonus for Serbia manager Dragan Stojkovic, who also has center-forward options Dusan Vlahovic and Luka Jovic. The question is which will he start against Portugal? All three of them can trouble the visitors’ defense after all.
Serbia’s backline against Ireland, however, looked anything but solid. The two goals conceded ended a run of three successive clean sheets, which isn’t ideal considering the quality of Portugal’s frontline.
Key Team Stats
- On a 5-match unbeaten run (W2 D3).
- Scored at least 1 goal against Portugal in their 6 meetings.
- Kept a clean sheet in 3 of their last 4 games in all competitions.
- Aleksandar Mitrovic is tied with Stjepan Bobek as the national team’s record scorer on 38 goals.
Portugal Form & Stats
Fernando Santos’ men began their World Cup qualification campaign with a 1-0 win over Azerbaijan. Despite boasting 67% possession and 29 shots, however, it took a defensive error to bag a match-winner in Turin.
Attention will again be on Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal’s record goalscorer has now gone three games without a goal or assist for his country and will want to address that in Serbia, a team he scored against last time out.
But while the Azerbaijan triumph wasn’t the most convincing, Portugal extended their winning streak to four wins in five games (L1). They’ve also kept six clean sheets in eight matches and conceded only three goals.
Key Team Stats
- Won 4 of their last 5 games in all competitions (L1).
- Unbeaten in 6 games against Serbia in all competitions (W3 D3).
- Kept 6 clean sheets in their last 8 games in all competitions.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has only scored 1 goal in 5 games against Serbia in all competitions.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has managed 15 goals and 3 assists in his last 10 World Cup qualifiers.
Out: Raphael Guerreiro, Rui Patricio, Pepe.
Serbia (3-4-1-2): Dmitrovic; Milenkovic, Mitrovic, Pavlovic; Gazic, Milinkovic-Savic, Racic, Kostic; Tadic; Vlahovic, Mitrovic.
Portugal (4-3-3): Lopes; Cancelo, Duarte, Diaz, Mendes; Fernandes, Neves, Moutinho; B. Silva, Felix, Ronaldo.
|07/09/19||Euro Qualifier||Serbia||2 – 4||Portugal|
|25/03/19||Euro Qualifier||Portugal||1 – 1||Serbia|
|11/10/15||Euro Qualifier||Serbia||1 – 2||Portugal|
|29/03/15||Euro Qualifier||Portugal||2 – 1||Serbia|
|12/09/07||Euro Qualifier||Portugal||1 – 1||Serbia|
|28/03/07||Euro Qualifier||Serbia||1 – 1||Portugal|