Portugal uninspiring in friendly stalemate

Portugal were unable to imitate what the U21 side did yesterday, drawing 0-0 with Spain.

Some wasteful finishing from Álvaro Morata and co. meant that Portugal earned a goalless draw in front of Spanish fans in Madrid. The seleção were uninspiring and created few clear chances through the game. Fernando Santos and his team have plenty of work ahead of them before EURO 2020 begins next week.

The last time these two sides faced each other earlier in the season – it was also a 0-0 draw at Alvalade. This fixture was at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid with fans in attendance. Fernando Santos was without João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Gonçalo Guedes and Bernardo Silva for this game, but had Cristiano Ronaldo and João Félix up front, while Adama Traoré was out injured for Spain.

Portugal did not get out of the traps, with Spain dominating possession in the early going and the visitors happy to soak up the pressure. However, Portugal did get the ball in the net halfway through the first half when José Fonte rose highest to head in Raphaël Guerreiro’s corner. However, the veteran defender was penalised for a foul on Pau Torres.

Spain got their first real chance not long after. Portugal were robbed in possession – a recurring theme throughout the night – and Álvaro Morata put in a fantastic cross but Ferrán Torres wasn’t able to convert. Later, Cristiano Ronaldo was almost presented a gift by goalkeeper Unai Simón, when the Athletic Bilbao stopper attempted a clearance that struck the forward in the midriff. The ball could have gone anywhere, but it was a big let-off for Spain.

The home side continued to dominate proceedings, ending the first half with 71% possession, but neither side were yet to register a shot on target.

After the half-time break, Fernando Santos handed a debut to Sporting’s Pedro Gonçalves who took the place of João Félix. But the star of the second half was Morata. The striker proceeded to miss chance after chance as Spain began to create more, although Pablo Sarabia missed the easiest of the chances after good work from Marcos Llorente.

Portugal did have one very good chance in the second half. Ronaldo was able to find space down the right and he put in a cross that Diogo Jota attacked well but his header went over the bar. Santos brought on William Carvalho, Bruno Fernandes, João Palhinha, Rafa Silva, and Nuno Mendes throughout the second half but Portugal still couldn’t find a way into the game.

Spain had a fantastic opportunity to win the game in the 90th minute when Álvaro Morata found himself clean through on goal. Morata got the ball over Rui Patrício but it struck the woodwork and bounced clear.

In truth, Portugal were lucky not to lose in Madrid. But with one more game to play before the EURO 2020 begins – against Israel on Wednesday – there’s still time for Fernando Santos to sort out his team before the opening game against Hungary.

by Richard Cole

Spain XI: Unai Simón; Marcos Llorente, Pau Torres (Eric García, 63’), Aymeric Laporte (Diego Llorente, 79’), José Gayá; Sergio Busquets (Rodri, 63’), Thiago Alcântara (Pedri, 63’), Fabián Ruiz (Koke, 75’); Ferrán Torres, Álvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia (Gerard Moreno, 75’)

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício; Nélson Semedo, Pepe (William Carvalho, 59’), José Fonte; Raphaël Guerreiro (Nuno Mendes, 81’); Renato Sanches (João Palhinha 70’), Danilo Pereira, Sérgio Oliveira (Bruno Fernandes, 59’), Diogo Jota (Rafa Silva, 70’); Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix (Pedro Gonçalves, 45’)