Portugal 2-2 Tunisia

The reigning European Champions got off to a flier in Braga this evening in the opening thirty-five minutes, thanks to goals from André Silva and João Mário. However, their dominance was unacceptably short-lived – and saw the North African side pull two goals back to hold Portugal to a disappointing two-two draw.

In stark contrast to their first half, Portugal were incoherent and were deservedly held to a draw by a largely inexperienced Tunisian side, with coach Fernando Santos making no attempt to hide his anger at the end of the ninety minutes. 

 The opening exchanges in this friendly encounter were by no means friendly and saw several rash challenges from both sides being flung in with little remorse. The Tunisians benefited from this substantially, creating a host of decent chances in the opening ten minutes of the fixture.

Minutes later, however, the European Champions had their first real sight of goal. Tunisia’s number one, Hassan, lackadaisically gave the ball to Ricardo Quaresma – only for Besiktas’ Messiah to put the ball over the bar from ten yards out.

Portugal started to assert their authority on the game gradually as the half wore on. Yet, despite their gradual dominance in possession, Portugal’s lack of cohesion amongst their back four was a perennial concern for the Portuguese faithful.

André Silva strikes

However, twenty-two minutes into the friendly encounter, the Seleção made the breakthrough. Bernardo Silva bamboozled his opposite marker to find Ricardo Quaresma on the right-hand-side and the Besiktas winger whipped in a teasing ball to the far post which found André Silva who headed past a helpless Hassan in the bottom left-hand corner.

Portugal’s dominance in possession began to thwart the North African’s defence, particularly in the midfield areas. This dominance was rewarded once more twelve minutes later, as Bernardo Silva's corner was headed away to the edge of the area where João Mário was waiting - and the West Ham loanee rifled a missile-like shot into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Despite asserting such dominance on their opponents, Tunisia scraped a goal back minutes later. Portugal’s back line had looked shaky throughout the early exchanges of this fixture, and their lack of cohesion was all the more prevalent in this instance. A fine move saw the African nation quickly switch the ball to the left side of the box courtesy of Raphaël Guerreiro’s positional lapse, with Sliti feeding a touch through to Badri to finish impressively from the edge of the box.

The European Champions would have been relatively content with their first-half display, with a host of chances that should have seen them score at least one more goal. However, the manner in which they conceded minutes after going two-nil up would have undoubtedly infuriated Fernando Santos.

As play resumed in the second half, Portugal began on the front foot once more. And, fifty-five minutes in, the Seleção were a whisker away from scoring their third of the evening through the magisterial Bernardo Silva. Manchester City’s playmaker weaved his way along the edge of the box, before striking a low effort that came back off the post, with Hassen then brilliantly denying João Mário on the rebound. Silva then had another chance but this time struck his effort high, wide and handsome.

Second-half turnaround

As a flurry of substitutions were made as they often are in friendlies, the game eventually lost its exciting flow –, particularly amongst the Portuguese players. Tunisia began to reassert their ebb and flow to the fixture and were rewarded once more sixty-four minutes in. Anthony Lopes punched away an inviting Tunisia free-kick but the ball found its way back to Maaloul, who elegantly curled the ball into the middle where Ben Youssef tucked home with a sliding finish.

As the game progressed and more substitutions were made, it was all too obvious that Portugal’s tactics and game plan were a thing of the past. Tunisia’s two goals were entirely deserved as they proceeded to cause the Portuguese defence and midfield no end of issues with their insistent, direct counter-attacks.

João Mário and Rúben Dias impress

The result leaves much to be desired, but there were a number of positives to take from the fixture. João Mário, operating in a central role, caused the Tunisian defence no end of headaches with his determined, marauding runs and exemplary technique. Rúben Dias impressed greatly too and held himself like a seasoned veteran despite this being his international debut.

Certainly – and perhaps unsurprisingly – Portugal’s lack of cohesiveness in defence is the main worry for Seleção fans. The poor manner in which Tunisia’s two goals were conceded is entirely unacceptable for a team possessing such talent. That said, friendlies are experiments, and Fernando Santos has given very few reasons for Portugal fans to questions his methods just yet.

By Marino Peixoto

Portugal: Anthony Lopes, Ricardo (Cédric, 73’), Pepe (José Fonte, 63’), Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro (Mário Rui, 46’), William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva (Guedes, 73’), Adrien (Manuel Fernandes, 63’), João Mário (Moutinho, 80’), Quaresma, André Silva

Tunisia: Hassen, Nagguez, Benalouane, Meriah, Haddadi (Maâloul, 46’), Skhiri, Sassi, Khaoui (Youssef, 46’), Badri (Akaïchi, 87’), Sliti (Srarfi, 77’), Khalifa (Chalali, 67’)

Goals:

[1-0] André Silva, 22’

[2-0] João Mário, 34’

[2-1] Badri, 39’

[2-2] Youssef, 65’

 

 

Comments (17)

  1. Ash

I don’t understand the point of making so many subs in a game. What’s the point? The team becomes a disjointed mess. The logical thing to do would be a few subs per game like how it’s normally done.

The poorest decision Santos made was leaving...

I don’t understand the point of making so many subs in a game. What’s the point? The team becomes a disjointed mess. The logical thing to do would be a few subs per game like how it’s normally done.

The poorest decision Santos made was leaving Neves out for Adrien. I think this will come back to haunt us especially with how William lacks match fitness. Adrien was been terrible which is to be expected with how little he has played. Meanwhile Neves in the form of his life will be watching the World Cup from his couch.

Aside from William And Adrien I’m concerned with Guerreiro. These guys need to get fit and sharp ASAP.

I was very surprised with how well João Mário played. MOTM. Could have added another goal or two if his finishing was better.

To every ones’s relief, Rúben Dias looked rock solid. Hope he plays again against Belgium.

Ricardo Pereira is wonderful to watch. He just glides past players. Still needs to work a bit on defending which is why Cedric should still start against Spain but Ricardo could play against Iran who will sit back.

We have to remember that the team played 433 which was always going to leave the back line more exposed than our traditional 442. Fix the dumb defensive mistakes, get some of these guys so more match rhythm, and add The best player in the world and our great goalkeeper Patricio and I’m feeling much more confident now than a few weeks ago.


----------------------Rui Patrício----------------------------
Cédric Soares----Pepe----Rúben Dias----Raphaël Guerreiro
Bernardo Silva---William Carvalho---Adrién Silva---J.Mário
----------André Silva-----------------Cristiano Ronaldo-------

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  1. Paulo    Ash

Agree with the Guerreiro assessment. He has been one the of the outstanding players, but was very weak on defense today and caused the breakdown on the first goal. He had been burned earlier, but luckily the forward met the cross and was wide of...

Agree with the Guerreiro assessment. He has been one the of the outstanding players, but was very weak on defense today and caused the breakdown on the first goal. He had been burned earlier, but luckily the forward met the cross and was wide of the near post. A better finisher would have tested the goalkeeper. Hopefully, Guerreiro will shake off the rust and be fully fit. If not Mario Rui will have to show he is up to the task.

With the second goal, the players need to keep playing now that VAR is going to be in the World Cup. If he was offside in the cup, they would review and catch it, if not, standing around with your hands up will not change anything except give the opposition an easy goal.

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  1. joe

It wasnt a 433 it was a 442 with JM playing as a no10, b.silva was wide right and r.quaresma was wide left with a.silva and william as the central mid pair...which is in prep for spain....the extra mid is to counter the overload of the spanish...

It wasnt a 433 it was a 442 with JM playing as a no10, b.silva was wide right and r.quaresma was wide left with a.silva and william as the central mid pair...which is in prep for spain....the extra mid is to counter the overload of the spanish midfield since they play typically with a false 9. My guess is that the match for spain will be similair to this with a few changes of which they werent with the team yet.

On the match....overall...2 mistakes 2 goals conceded...sometimes brilliant sometimes sloppy....sometimes disconjointed (especially defense).... sometimes worked as a unit...its a game of 2 halves in terms of quality...with the players missing who i think will start....I bet a different outcome...everyone needs to be back for belgium game so santos can give his starting 11 a run out against a top side.

Individually as i have said 100 times here...J.Mario is not a wide player....he is a no10 or no8 and his ball control/composure is v.good..nice to see that happening...mpving him outwide is pointless as we have better widemen.

I didnt pick adrien silva becuase he didnt merit a call up and you could see how off he was... months of playing in a year in and out shows...he will not be in the statting line up...everyone is right...r.neves or even sergio oliveira would have better off the bench..

Ricardo was excellent and Pepe left him isolated for that first goal...r. dias was excellent..if they both start against belgium and play well...they start against Spain...guerreiro was off the pace but he is so good when ticking...lets hope he gets his fitness up by the 15th....overall its a matter of getting them insync and a unit.

Guedes showed why he should be starting on the left....PACE and offers a dimension that with b.silva on the right we dont have.....quaresma as a sub vs spain and a starter against those deep block teams...iran and morocco....you need guedes pace against spain.

I could go on about each player but those were the main points.

I believe the next 2 friendlies will tell us more for the 15th but from what i see in this first game when all players are in the camp...I think you will see this lineup vs belgium and possibly vs Spain.

Patricio is obvious no1
Ronaldo is obvious striker
A.silva wont start...b.fernandes will get a chance in the no8 role
Guedes will win that left wing role...quaresma will start against Iran
Look for gelson to come on for b.silva in next game.
Ricardo and Dias will start
Guerriero needs more mins

442
Patricio
Ricardo pepe dias guerreiro
B.silva william b.fernades guedes
Ronaldo j.mario

Subs....a. silva for j. Mario
Subs....g.martins for b. Silva
Quaresma for guedes
J.moutinho for b. Fernandes

I think u might not see a whole team change against belgium as Santos starts hone is first 11

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  1. George

I know some Portuguese-American ESPN FC watchers will leave some panicked, "woe is us, we are doomed" comments as per usual, but, I'm honestly feeling pretty positive after watching that match.

Joao Mario looked like a world-beater playing...

I know some Portuguese-American ESPN FC watchers will leave some panicked, "woe is us, we are doomed" comments as per usual, but, I'm honestly feeling pretty positive after watching that match.

Joao Mario looked like a world-beater playing centrally. A few of us have been knocking on that drum for a while now. I knew you'd see the best of him there and not on the wings. Glad Fernando Santos gave him the opportunity finally. If only one of his knucklehead club managers would do the same. Any haters out there still wondering what he brings to the team? There are always a couple who say he's the worst one on the pitch for whatever reason.

I'd like to eventually see Bernardo Silva centrally as well, but, I understand why Adrien is there. He balances the midfield. Maybe against a team that's determined to park the bus against us we can see a central midfield partnership of Mario and Bernardo.

Was really worried about William Carvalho, but he looked good too. Probably our second best player. Thought he showed his vision in spades, and, a directness that we haven't quite seen before. It was exciting.

Ruben Dias acquitted himself quite well in defense as well. Should've just cleared the ball on Tunisia's second goal instead of assuming offside, but he's young and that came right after a slew of substitutions, so, I'm not too worried about it. Ultimately the defensive mistakes we made came as a result of unfamiliarity; same as our last two friendlies. These are mistakes that I believe can be easily rectified by Santos. Keep in mind that we played a more open midfield formation in this game as well, and our backline didn't look particularly overwhelmed against another World Cup team. Can they be better? Of course. But I honestly thought they'd look much worse. So I'm pleased.

I like that we drew the game. I don't want to lose games but I don't want to win games to the point of going into the tournament overconfident either. That's happened far too often. Make the mistakes now so they can be corrected. Get used to each other now so you won't have to later. And, above all else gain/retain fitness. Those are the only things that matter.

- Essayist George

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  1. SupremoGino

Thoughts

Adrien Silva looked all out of sorts. I think we've all come to a consensus in regards to leaving Ruben Neves off the team. Santos likely over analyzed his selections that it hurt his decision making. Manuel Fernandes deserving to be...

Thoughts

Adrien Silva looked all out of sorts. I think we've all come to a consensus in regards to leaving Ruben Neves off the team. Santos likely over analyzed his selections that it hurt his decision making. Manuel Fernandes deserving to be there is one thing but will he even see the field? William's long-range passing is a nuisance..don't care how accurate it is. He also tried dribbling through 4 players at one point.. destroying team chemistry and momentum. The only player that impressed was Ricardo Pereira. I've said for months on that we just need to give these guys time to gel. However, now I realize they always look disjointed because they are constantly played out of position. Sosick of it. Look at other teams like Brazil and wonder how the ball just glides from end to end. Bernardo and Mario are not wide players. Portugal needs a more balanced approach. The problem is Renato was our engine and now we need someone to fill that role. I don't have the stats but looks like Joao Mario is next to cover the most ground. Both him and Bernardo are non versatile #10's but the latter is two inches shorter and Mario outclasses him when it comes to pressuring, cutting off lanes and winning the ball back. We can't play both because their effectiveness is nullified when one has to drift out wide This also explains why Santos gave Andre Gomes a gazillion chances to prove himself, because he was our best suited AM given that he was stronger, faster, and taller than Mario. And I almost want to vomit in saying that. However honestly, I think our best option is to start Guedes over Bernardo. We need a proper winger with pace on the field at all times and Portugal might need to revert back to playing 443.

P.S Heads up! PortuGoal team. Guests are unable to post and your email system does not work.

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  1. Tom Kundert    SupremoGino

Thanks for the heads-up Gino. We'll fix that.

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  1. Mike

If this team plays like they did the first 30 minutes we will go far and can dream of winning the whole thing. If they play the way they did the last 30 minutes we won’t get out of the group.

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  1. Matthew Marshall

I thought the game was good for Ruben Dias, I would be surprised if he doesn't start alongside Pepe at the World Cup.

Joao Mario was excellent as was Bernardo Silva. I think some people miss the point with Adrien SIlva, but the squad doesn't...

I thought the game was good for Ruben Dias, I would be surprised if he doesn't start alongside Pepe at the World Cup.

Joao Mario was excellent as was Bernardo Silva. I think some people miss the point with Adrien SIlva, but the squad doesn't appear to need Manuel Fernandes. Santos has some big decisions to make with the full-back positions.

My player ratings can be found here: http://www.beautifulgame.net.au/portugal-2-2-tunisia-player-ratings/

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  1. marino    Matthew Marshall

Couldn't agree more Matthew. Adrien's skillset is very un-Portuguese like in many ways. His technical abilities aren't woeful, but his strong suit is harassing the opposition's midfield and stifling any creativity. He didn't do that to the best...

Couldn't agree more Matthew. Adrien's skillset is very un-Portuguese like in many ways. His technical abilities aren't woeful, but his strong suit is harassing the opposition's midfield and stifling any creativity. He didn't do that to the best of his ability yesterday, but his absence left Portugal's midfield very open when he made way for Manuel Fernandes (who unfortunately looked a little lost). Player ratings are great, too. Keep up the good work!

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  1. joe

Defensive worries are nothing new but can probably be improved with time if Dias plays alongside Pepe from start to finish. However the bigger worry is Andre Silva's wasteful ways. He needs 5 clear chances for every goal he scores. The other...

Defensive worries are nothing new but can probably be improved with time if Dias plays alongside Pepe from start to finish. However the bigger worry is Andre Silva's wasteful ways. He needs 5 clear chances for every goal he scores. The other forwards aren't much better finishers either. Next game start Guedes and Gelson alongside CR and we should see an improvement.

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  1. Joao Rosario

boss just trying to give guys a run around, especially for jose fonte, william, and andre silva. they are completely out of match fitness and have to be 100% ready. seeing adrien silva, joao mario and bernaro so fit was a positive sign. they are...

boss just trying to give guys a run around, especially for jose fonte, william, and andre silva. they are completely out of match fitness and have to be 100% ready. seeing adrien silva, joao mario and bernaro so fit was a positive sign. they are ready. results here are baseless and these games are treated as preseason warmups to get players mentally prepared.

next matches i suspect alves and fonte will be used rigorously to prove their match fitness. standbys are waiting if no. raphael will be trained hard separately and just be given a run around for few minutes only since he is too important for us to lose. boss will play andre silva and william all 90 mins for these games to get them back into full shape since they occupy important roles for selecao. (eder/ paulinho and neves are on standby if they are problems)

our old dogs ronaldo, quaresma, patricio, pepe and moutinho dont realy neeed to play these games so message from boss will be to play first gear only for them. so i dont see them playing against against belgium. santos will play the light line up ... with only 3/4 changes per friendly.

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  1. Andrew/NY

I think I watched an entirely different game then all of you stating negative feedback about Adrien. I too was originally scared he would do terrible, due to him not playing regularly last season. After the game, I am not concerned at all. He...

I think I watched an entirely different game then all of you stating negative feedback about Adrien. I too was originally scared he would do terrible, due to him not playing regularly last season. After the game, I am not concerned at all. He played some great football and I think will be crucial to the Selecao. His positioning was great, distribution of all the ball was great, and his defensive contribution was great. Why all the criticism?

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  1. Jose

There is no excuse for losing a 2 goal lead at home against Tunisia regardless of them being a tournament team. I don't care if Santos subbed on the entire U21 team that just tied Canada. You get the job done from that position. They are...

There is no excuse for losing a 2 goal lead at home against Tunisia regardless of them being a tournament team. I don't care if Santos subbed on the entire U21 team that just tied Canada. You get the job done from that position. They are professionals, who I imagine want to impress in hopes of getting a starting spot come June 15th. Lack of chemistry, cohesiveness, and match fitness are all just excuses to fit the narrative of a poor display. This is exactly who Portugal is and always has been. A team that can make it all the way to the final and lose to Greece or the one that can some how do the same thing, but beat a much stronger French side in Paris. They are so inconsistent, which makes them infuriating to support. Every game is a coin toss. They can easily beat Spain or lose by 4 goals in their first game.

Dias was very composed and assured on the ball. With Pepe directing the backline his inexperience won't be a problem. The fact that he can move laterally warrants his inclusion over Alves and Fonte.

Joao Mario unbelievable like an entirely different player, He needs to always play with that amount of energy and commitment, no matter where on the pitch he is.

Lopes absolutely needs to make that save on the first goal. That is a simple reaction save for most keepers. It wasn't hit with that much pace. On the second goal, his initial punch was extremely poor. A punch should never end up just outside the 18 centrally, especially when it was done with no traffic around him. He gives me as much confidence as Eduardo did.

Have we not seen Ronaldo centrally enough to realize that he can't or doesn't want to play there? IMO he should be there flanked by two natural wingers with B. Silva playing off him, but it is never about the team with Ronaldo, just see the champions league final. His actions (or lack thereof) during Real goals and his post-game comments were embarrassing.

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