European Championship: Portugal – Czech Republic

The opening game in Group F sees one of the top favourites, Portugal, clash with a resilient Czech Republic. Portugal, with their wealth of talent and experience, are considered strong contenders for the Euro 2024 title. However, their first challenge may be more difficult than anticipated. The Czech Republic, under coach Ivan Hasek, have shown impressive form, securing five consecutive wins leading up to the tournament. Their recent 2-1 victory over North Macedonia highlights their potential to upset the balance in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.

Portugal Team News

Portugal head coach Roberto Martinez has several key decisions to make for his team selection on Tuesday, given the squad’s impressive depth. Despite being 39 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to lead the line, aiming to add to his record 130 international goals and become the oldest player to score in the European Championship. Veteran defender Pepe, who will be 41 years and 113 days old, is also expected to start, making him the oldest player in the history of the tournament. Ruben Dias is likely to partner Pepe in central defense, leaving talented youngsters Antonio Silva and Goncalo Inacio on the bench. In attack, Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva are expected to flank Ronaldo, while Bruno Fernandes, Vitinha, and Joao Palhinha are set to form the midfield trio. Diogo Jota and Joao Neves, both linked with high-profile summer moves, might start on the bench, highlighting Portugal’s strength in depth.

Czech Republic Team News

Czech Republic suffered a setback with midfielder Michal Sadilek pulling out of the squad due to an injury sustained while riding a bike. West Ham duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek will feature in the starting XI, providing experience and stability. Patrik Schick, the leading goalscorer in the squad with 19 goals, will spearhead the attack, aiming to add to his tally of five goals in the competition. Jan Kutcha is expected to support Schick in the final third, while 21-year-old Adam Hlozek is another attacking option. Jindrich Stanek will start as the goalkeeper, with a back three likely comprising Tomas Holes, Robin Hranac, and Ladislav Krejci.

Portugal Form

Portugal enters the tournament with a mixed bag of recent results, including three wins and two losses in their last five games. A notable 3-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in an international friendly showcased their potential, but defeats to stronger sides indicate some inconsistency. However, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line and a wealth of talent throughout the squad, Portugal is expected to be a formidable force in Euro 2024.

Czech Republic Form

Czech Republic’s recent form has been impressive, with five consecutive wins leading up to the tournament. Victories against North Macedonia, Norway, and Armenia in friendly matches highlight their solid preparations. Under coach Ivan Hasek, the team has shown resilience and tactical discipline, making them a challenging opponent for any team. Their strong run of results positions them as a potential dark horse in Group F.

What do the stats say?

  • Portugal has won four of their last six matches, losing two.
  • Czech Republic is unbeaten in their last six games, with five wins and one draw.
  • Czech Republic has lost four of their previous five matches against Portugal, including a 4-0 defeat in the UEFA Nations League in September 2022.

Our Verdict

Portugal will be seen as the favorites by many, given their star-studded squad and historical success in major tournaments. The depth and quality of players like Ronaldo, Fernandes, and Silva are expected to make a significant impact. However, the Czech Republic’s recent form and tactical discipline could make this a challenging encounter for Martinez’s side. While Portugal has the upper hand in terms of individual talent, we anticipate a closely fought match, with Portugal likely edging out a narrow victory to start their Euro 2024 campaign on a positive note.

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