Portugal 0-0 Spain

Portugal were held to a 0-0 draw at home to neighbouring Spain after hitting the crossbar twice in a friendly hosted at the Alvalade, welcoming 2,500 socially-distanced fans.

The Seleção das Quinas looked second best among Spain’s possession-scented brand of football before edging themselves closer to the opener in the second half, via Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike against the bar.

Renato Sanches encountered the same sense of agony moments later after also being denied by the frame of the goal before a head-in-hands miss from João Félix, a minute from time, concluded a goalless draw.

In the absence of José Fonte, Fernando Santos, on his record-equalling 74th game for Portugal, turned to Rubén Semedo and Sanches for the date against an experimental Spain line-up, composed by Luís Enrique.

The visitors set the pace in Lisbon, taking aim on a number occasions, more notably through Dani Olmo and Rodrigo Moreno in their bid to open the scoring within the first ten minutes.

La Furia Roja continued to press in the 17th minute, forcing Rui Patrício into action from range before Gerard Moreno, inside the box, almost turned in a close-range effort deflected onto the side-netting by Rubén Semedo.

Portugal had to wait until the final embers of the first half to make their presence felt, despite missing convincingly on both occasions through a Raphäel Guerreiro volley and Cristiano Ronaldo's outstretched header, prolonging the deadlock.

Ronaldo would go a lot closer in the 52nd minute after being spotted by William Carvalho on the edge of the box, enabling the Portugal captain to work an angle and fire the ball viciously against the underside of the crossbar on his left foot.

William was central to a second opportunity for the Seleção as the game opened up, releasing Ronaldo down the left before the latter’s cross with the outside of his foot was smashed against the bar for a second time, as Sanches tried his luck in the 67th minute. Spain’s biggest obstacle continued to be Patrício between the sticks after Olmo found no way past the Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper from Adama Traoré’s cut-back.

As the game settled into a nice rhythm, Portugal replied via Félix and Francisco Trincão on the counter, requiring Kepa Arrizabalaga to rush off his line and reduce the time and space for a clear execution.

Félix could and probably should have altered the score-line with just a minute of the game to go, being found all alone, just yards out from goal, by Rubén Semedo’s flick-on, but the Atlético Madrid forward’s inability to connect with the ball at the back-post confirmed a 0-0 draw between the two Iberian nations.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Raphäel Guerreiro (Nelson Semedo, 68’), Pepe (Rubén Dias, 45’), Rubén Semedo, João Cancelo - Rubén Neves, João Moutinho (William Carvalho, 45’), Renato Sanches - Cristiano Ronaldo (João Félix, 71’), Andre Silva (Bernardo Silva, 45’), Francisco Trincão (Diogo Jota, 79’)

Spain XI: Kepa - Sérgio Reguilón, Èric García (Sérgio Ramos, 82’), Diego Llorente, Sergi Roberto - Sérgio Busquets (Rodri, 62’), Sérgio Canales (Adama Traoré, 62’), Dani Ceballos (José Campaña, 45’) - Dani Olmo, Gerard Moreno, Rodrigo Moreno (Mikel Merino, 60’)

Comments (13)

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Friendlies are meant to test the team and teach us a couple of things about the squad, so, I'd have to say the match with Spain accomplished that objective from our point of view. Among the things I learned:

1). Aside from something calamitous...

Friendlies are meant to test the team and teach us a couple of things about the squad, so, I'd have to say the match with Spain accomplished that objective from our point of view. Among the things I learned:

1). Aside from something calamitous happening - like a red card at the beginning of a game or something - this team will be in pretty much every match and can hang with anyone. In the past we'd point to teams like France or Spain and acknowledge that, while we of course COULD compete, we'd have to play really well in order to do so. Under Fernando Santos, those days are over. We scrap and fight for every result we can get, whether we're firing on all cylinders, or, we come out of the gate like we did today - HORRIBLY. Our midfield and Joao Cancelo in particular were atrocious in that first 25/30 minutes, but, all but one grew into the game in the second half. In short, our mentality is different. We're able to make adjustments, both individually and as a team, and that hasn't always been the case. So a big positive there for sure.

2). I'm sorry, but age has caught up with Joao Moutinho. This isn't just a Portugal thing either, he's struggling for form with Wolves as well. And when he struggles on the pitch - looks off the pace, turns the ball over needlessly, etc. - his partner (usually Ruben Neves) struggles as well. It's not a coincidence that both Neves and Renato Sanches looked better once Moutinho came off for William Carvalho; Moutinho on the bench is a move that should definitely be made permanent. And I don't say that disparagingly, in fact quite the opposite: I believe he still has a role to play on the team, BUT, given the other options we have at our disposal, there's no reason Joao should be getting more than 15/20 minutes on the pitch consistently. He's a liability at this point.

3). The William vs. Danilo debate is over. The correct answer is both. I'm used to William making an impact as a #6, but I've never seen him make an impact as a central midfielder for Portugal - until today. Literally everything, and everyone around him, was better when he came on. His vision started our two most promising counter-attacks; he nearly got an assist from a pass when he was out on the right flank! For a guy who has a reputation for being "slow", he sure was everywhere on the pitch at times. He even put himself directly in front of the Adame Traore train and stopped him in his tracks! That's the kind of attitude, ability, and strength we need in midfield, particularly against the strongest opponents. Both William and Danilo provide that in spades, and a partnership between the two, especially in a three-man midfield where the third (likely Bruno Fernandes) has absolute freedom to push and create would be devastating.

4). Ruben Semedo looked alright. He definitely had some shaky moments and made a couple of mistakes, but, I expected far worse from a guy making his first senior start for the national team against an opponent with the quality of Spain, in the stadium of a club he used to play for. If I was him I'd be crazy nervous the whole way through, and yet, I didn't get that impression from him. In fact, in the air - I thought he was dominant. I think that's very promising. Remember, it usually takes a few matches for players to feel comfortable with the team: Danilo, Bruno, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix... we've seen it before. I'd imagine it's even worse for a defender, and yet, Semedo looked relatively calm with two different partners: Pepe and Ruben Dias. For a fanbase that's praying for some youthful options at center-back, it looks like we may have one. Not saying he's gonna be a superstar or anything, but, after one game against a very tough team, he's serviceable. That's a start. I hope Domingos Duarte gets a similar look in the future.

And 5). Rui Patricio is world-class. We have quality goalkeeping options in Anthony Lopes, Rui Silva, etc., but Patricio is so good that I can't see anyone else between the sticks in a big game. MOTM for sure.

I'll leave it there. Excited for the France match, that'll paint a much clearer picture of our team than anything else.

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Hi George, I just wanted to say this was an excellent post and I enjoyed reading it. It was insightful and well argued (didn't hurt that I agreed with every point you made). And I agree that the match with France will be more telling. I see a 1-1...

Hi George, I just wanted to say this was an excellent post and I enjoyed reading it. It was insightful and well argued (didn't hurt that I agreed with every point you made). And I agree that the match with France will be more telling. I see a 1-1 result Sunday but always hoping we can get the win.

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Excited to see us return back to the red and green kits.

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It seemed like Portugal were holding back, afraid to exert themselves, were they saving themselves for the France game?

Even their passing was so slow that it was easy for Spain to intercept. There were a lot of lame passes.

Despite Spain’s...

It seemed like Portugal were holding back, afraid to exert themselves, were they saving themselves for the France game?

Even their passing was so slow that it was easy for Spain to intercept. There were a lot of lame passes.

Despite Spain’s dominance however, Portugal never seemed in real trouble. Well, two great saves from Patricio helped. When Portugal finally tried to counter, our efforts were more threatening than Spain’s, and we could have converted two great goals but the ball just wasn’t going in today.

I’m curious, is our game plan to allow possession and then sit back and wait for a counter attack? Sure seemed so.

So, my big question is, are we lacklustre, or were we saving ourselves for France?

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We'll win Sunday. The world will still say that we're not favorites, but we'll win Sunday.

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Before I provide my analysis, I wouldn't want to be Fernando Santos. The quality of depth on this team is getting larger and larger. Some quality players will always have to be left out - its unjustified but it happens. Even though I anticipated...

Before I provide my analysis, I wouldn't want to be Fernando Santos. The quality of depth on this team is getting larger and larger. Some quality players will always have to be left out - its unjustified but it happens. Even though I anticipated a low-scoring affair, a tie is justified. Something that has been underrated for years is Santos keeping this team focus and not afraid of their opponents like they were years ago (Euro2012 anyone?). No matter what the game is, Portugal is ready to play. Here are some of my positives:

First, congrats to Ruben Semedo. I actually think he is a serviceable option along that back line. Yes, he was a bit shaky for the first half hour, but he managed himself quite well - against Spain of all countries. Unless some Portuguese prospect blows out of the water and creates competition, perhaps there could be a potential Semedo-Dias pairing in the future. People seem to forget that Defenders take the longest to develop..

If people wrote off Renato Sanches - look out. The kid has been on form ever since his move to Lille and performed super tonight. I feel like Portugal's midfield is 'too light'. They need some players like William, Danilo, and Sanches to beef up that midfield. I get that Bruno Fernandes is tenacious, but falls down a bit too much for me. Sanches stays on his feet and battles for the spaces in every occasion. That Euro2016 form may be kicking in at the right time.

On the flip side, here are some of my negatives. First, what the hell has been going on with Raphael Guerreiro? It sees like every time he plays, I find him to be more and more frustrating. Again, it could be me, but he was more noticeable on the wrongs than making the right decisions out there. Can Nelsen Semedo or Ricardo Pereira play the left flank better? I feel like I'm losing faith in Guerreiros ability. Can someone actually point me in the right direction and prove to me he's been a good performer lately? I know he's had injury issues in the past, but his defending is always a bit suspect.

Second with the midfield. I'm sorry, what is the point of having Ruben Neves as a defensive pivot? I would rather have Danilo or Sanches in that position. He is not the same player I envisioned having the all-world potential when I watched him in the Liga with Porto. He seemed to fumble every pass and give possession away easily. I think he dropped himself on the Midfield totem-pole. On the subject of Moutinho, his time is surely done. He was more of a liability out there than anything else.

Overall it was a solid performance for this team. My only dig against Spain was the inclusion of Traore. Wasn't he included by Mali in their call-ups? Makes zero sense to me to just spurn one country to go towards another.

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I hope
This game confirmed the obvious to Fernando Santos. This team simply cannot compete against good sides without William (or Danilo) starting in midfield. We were dominated the first half an hour. However , once William game in we were much...

I hope
This game confirmed the obvious to Fernando Santos. This team simply cannot compete against good sides without William (or Danilo) starting in midfield. We were dominated the first half an hour. However , once William game in we were much better and Sanches /Neves improved after that .

Spain controlled possession for the most part, but they didn’t do that much with it although Patrício did make a couple of great saves. Portugal had the better scoring chances and this really should have been a 1-0 win for us here, given we struck two cross bars, and Felix , Guerreiro, and Trincao missing open shots from close range.

Against France I would go with:

—————————Patrício——————
Semedo————-Pepe——Dias———Cancelo
—————————William———————
—————Fernandes———Sanches———-
B.Silva——————Jota*——————Cr7

*I would start jota over Felix as I feel that we may be laying on the counter often in such an away game against France . Jota is better for
That than Felix.

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With this being a friendly, I’m glad Santos chose to test some things out.

Despite that testing and the team being quite poor in the first half, they didn’t concede too many opportunities (although some did make there way and were dangerous).

Th...

With this being a friendly, I’m glad Santos chose to test some things out.

Despite that testing and the team being quite poor in the first half, they didn’t concede too many opportunities (although some did make there way and were dangerous).

This game clearly proves, as some have mentioned, Moutinhos time as an 11 is over. He is a quality player who is experienced and is a fantastic option to come off the bench to help see out close matches.

Personally I wasn’t overly impressed with Neves.

Second half the few changes made cause a stirring difference in the match. Spain had their possession still sure, but it was no where near Portugal’s end. Possession amongst defenders is nothing to be impressed about! Portugal were secure defensively and looked dangerous when trying to attack, not much more you could ask for.

As a side note. Yes Traoré is a speedy and string player, but we can’t get beat every single time a player like that tries a run. Beside the one interception made by Carvalho( standing his ground) the guy made a fool of our left sided defence. Someone needs to not be afraid to get rough a make a foul or if possible stand there ground. I don’t find Traoré particular impressive as a player, but his speed and strength often are enough to beat some players .

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Not a bad game to test a few things for both teams. Pros for Portugal;
-Trincao intelligent guy with a positive attitude and skill to match
- Ruben Semedo positive start for a position that Portugal really needs alternatives to replace the 'old...

Not a bad game to test a few things for both teams. Pros for Portugal;
-Trincao intelligent guy with a positive attitude and skill to match
- Ruben Semedo positive start for a position that Portugal really needs alternatives to replace the 'old guys"
- Renato Sanches seems to be coming around and regaining his confidence and gives us the intimidation factor in midfield

Cons;
- Guerreiro continues to be a defensive liability. Nothing new here but nothing being done. Need to try Cancelo at LB.
- Felix needs to get way more physical even if he may not like it much
- Neves seems to have gone backwards in his development and probably won't play if Danilo, Carvalho and Sanches are
available but it's disappointing anyway

Still don't understand why Pizzi is not on this team and Andre Silva is still not clicking as he does at Frankfurt.

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A game that delivered a vaste amount of learnings:
Rui Patricio is class and by far the No 1.
Ruben Semedo adapted well in his first match, which is very promising.
Guerreiro is a horrible liability.
An in-form and confident Renato is so...

A game that delivered a vaste amount of learnings:
Rui Patricio is class and by far the No 1.
Ruben Semedo adapted well in his first match, which is very promising.
Guerreiro is a horrible liability.
An in-form and confident Renato is so daaaamned needed in this team. The guy offers aggressivity, persistence, skill and he's not afraid to take a risk. He's a huge asset for Portugal, no doubt.
William has world class vision and position play. Can play the deadly pass like no other in this team.

Looking forward to see the midfield William - Bruno - Renato against France. With Diogo Jota, Ronaldo and Bernardo/or Trincao upfront. I hope Santos finds a solution to replace Guerreiro.

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I just finaowatched the game on replay. A few thoughts, I say a few but I usually can’t stop soooo haha. I liked Semedo actually, I thought with the exception of one pass to Spain he was pretty much perfect to me. Well not perfect but really he...

I just finaowatched the game on replay. A few thoughts, I say a few but I usually can’t stop soooo haha. I liked Semedo actually, I thought with the exception of one pass to Spain he was pretty much perfect to me. Well not perfect but really he didn’t do anything wrong in my opinion. I’m sort of undecided on Trincão right now, I think it’s a cute story to have a young potential “star” playing but I don’t think he’s good enough to play the best teams in the world right now. He’s not physical enough to impose himself and he’s really not that fast where he can just fly up and down the wings. If you think about a guy like Gelson Martins for example, even if Trincão ability and intelligence is higher...Gelson had a turn of pace that 9 out of 10 backs just couldn’t stop that. Trincao doesn’t really have a key attribute that can set him apart from world class defenders that are grown men. I think Trincão shouldn’t be called up unless if he clearly is a huge contributor for Barcelona. We can’t reward players based on their name anymore, Portugal has plenty of talent and we can’t just pick players like we’re Costa Rica picking our only player and he’s 20 years old. I can think of 4-5 players right now that would be more impactful than trincao right now. For the sake of this conversation, I firmly stand by Pedro Neto taking his spot 100%. Neto has everything that it takes and I have no doubt about that.

Like some of you said about Neves and moutinho I completely agree, they just don’t do enough plain and simple. I’d like to see a midfield trio of Danilo/William, Renato and Bruno. I think Renato is just that pit bull we need because quite frankly all of our midfielders and forwards weigh like 120lbs and they’re soft. Renato and William/Danilo gives our midfield some substance and Bruno can pull the strings.

Raphael is a liability defensively no doubt but I’m not sure if Cancelo is any better so careful what you wish for. When Cancelo plays LB for man city, they have the ball for 87 minutes a game and he spends most of his time going forwards, ironically enough just like what Raphael does at Dortmund. Alright this is too long but I suppose this couldn’t be complete without a starting 11 right haha.

Rui
Cancelo Pepe Dias Raphael
Danilo
Bruno Renato
Bernardo Jota Ronaldo

Now I’m going to be honest like I always try to be. I’d be shocked if we beat France right now. My prediction is 3-1 France. God I hope I’m wrong though, the only team I hate more than Germany is France.

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