Portugal begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday evening at Doha’s Stadium 974. The Selecao is in Group H, which also includes Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea.
Portugal will be seeking to improve on their 2018 World Cup performance, which saw them eliminated in the second round by Uruguay.
The Selecao are one of the competition’s favourites, but they have only made it to the semi-finals twice in their existence (1966 and 2006).
Meanwhile, Ghana is returning to the world’s largest stage for the first time in eight years, having missed the 2018 edition in Russia. The Black Stars are competing in their fourth World Cup after qualifying in 2006.
Ghana have quite a good record at the World Cup, having qualified from their group on two previous occasions, including the 2010 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-final.
This is the second time the two sides will meet at the World Cup after they clashed in 2014, with Portugal winning 2-1 on that day.
Portugal’s form (WWLWLW)
Ghana’s form (WDLLWW)
Both sides head into the game in great form after winning their warmup games before the tournament. Ghana stunned Switzerland, while Portugal secured a dominant victory over Nigeria.
Portugal vs Ghana players to watch
Ronaldo has dominated the build-up to the game, but not for football reasons. The 37-year-old is in the spotlight following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan, in which he slammed Erik Ten Hag and Manchester United.
Although the interview has now cost him his job after United terminated his contract by mutual consent, Ronaldo is fully focused on Portugal.
Before United’s statement, Ronaldo had appeared in front of the media, saying his interview would not distract Portugal from reaching their goal. This is Ronaldo’s fifth and probably final World Cup, but he is determined to leave on a high.
Another player who will be key for Portugal is Bernardo Silva. With 73 caps and eight goals to his name, Silva is one of the most experienced players in the squad. He arrives at the competition in great form, having scored two goals and recorded five assists in 14 league games for Manchester City this season.
Silva is a valuable asset for Portugal due to his ability to play anywhere in advanced positions. His creativity and work rate will be important if Portugal are to go all the way in Qatar.
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Ghana have been able to convince a few players of Ghanaian origin to switch international allegiance after qualifying for the World Cup.
One of the players is Inaki Williams, who was born in Spain to Ghanaian parents. However, he decided to switch international allegiance and will be tasked with scoring goals for Ghana.
The Athletic Bilbao man is expected to lead the line for the Black Stars, and his performance up front will be key if the four-time African champions are to progress.
The Arsenal star’s experience alongside captain Andre Ayew will be key if Ghana are to get anything from the game. Partey faces the tough task of winning the battle in the middle of the park but arrives at the competition full of confidence following his impressive start to the season with Arsenal.
Fernando Santos won Portugal their only major trophy- Euro 2016- but he has always come under criticism for his negative football. With Portugal having one of the best squads in the competition, Santos will be under pressure to switch up his style in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ghana will hope that Otto Addo’s coaching experience at Borussia Dortmund will help them in their quest to qualify from a difficult group. While Addo will lead Ghana out in Qatar, he is also Dortmund’s assistant coach, which may be handy at the World Cup.
Prediction for Portugal vs. Ghana
Ghana will undoubtedly battle hard, like they have in past World Cups, but Portugal’s quality roster may be too much for them.
Portugal 2-1 Ghana.