Belgium 0-0 Portugal

Portugal’s penultimate friendly match before the World Cup will have boosted optimism that Fernando Santos’s team can enjoy a successful tournament in Russia. After a shaky opening 15 minutes, Portugal more than matched a talented Belgium side in Brussels, holding the hosts to a goalless draw.

Without captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who joins the squad on Monday, a youthful Portuguese midfield and attack looked lively and enterprising. Perhaps even more significant, the veteran centre-back partnership of Pepe and José Fonte brought back memories of Euro 2016 with a rock-solid performance.

Santos pulled a surprise by leaving his usual starting striker André Silva on the bench, with Gonçalo Guedes given the chance to impress up top. Gelson Martins also got a rare start on the right wing, with João Mário on the left, and William Carvalho, João Moutinho and Bernardo Silva making up the rest of the midfield. At the back José Fonte was recalled to the position Ruben Dias had occupied against Tunisia.

Centre-backs hold firm

The Belgians - many people's tip as dark horses to win the upcoming World Cup - started brightly with Hazard's clever movement and silky touch causing Portugal problems. The home team were getting plenty of joy down both flanks with their overlapping full-backs finding space to send over a series of crosses towards Lukaku, but Pepe and Fonte dealt competently with everything thrown their way.

After 15 minutes of almost complete Belgian domination, albeit without calling Beto into serious action, Portugal began to click into gear. The mobile front line of Guedes and Gelson, ably supported by Bernardo Silva, started to combine well and cause problems for the hosts.

Moutinho had Courtois diving to parry a long-range effort, but Belgium hit back as Hazard found Carrasco who turned sharply and fired a dangerous shot narrowly wide. But as the half wore on Portugal began to cause real danger, William and Moutinho controlling matters in the centre of the pitch, and three times the Seleção came close to scoring before the break.

Portugal go close

First Bernardo made his trademark move, cutting in from the right and firing towards goal with his left foot, his effort deflected just wide. Next a lovely first-time pass from Guedes sent Gelson racing towards goal, but he shot wide from a tight angle, and soon afterwards a neat passing move opened up space for Guedes on the edge of his box, his low shot skimming not far past the post.

Despite an entertaining first half, neither goalkeeper had been forced into a difficult save, but that changed in the second half as only two excellent stops by Beto from Vertonghen and Meunier kept Portugal level.

Not that it was one-way traffic though, with Gelson and Guedes combining superbly on two occasions to create a half-chance for each, only for Guedes to completely miss his kick and Gelson to sky wildly over.

With both teams making the usual array of numerous substitutions, the last 20 minutes of the game petered out without much interest, and a draw was a fair reflection of the match.

Portugal play their final friendly on Thursday against Algeria back in Lisbon, before the World Cup opener against Spain in Sochi on 15 June. After a series of performances that can be described as indifferent at best, tonight's showing will give Seleção fans renewed confidence that Portugal can get something from that daunting first match against their Iberian neighbours to set themselves up for a positive World Cup.

by Tom Kundert

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany (Boyata, 58’), Vertonghen, Meunier, Dembele (Fellaini, 45’), De Bruyne, E. Hazard (T. Hazard), Mertens (Januzaj, 45’), Carrasco (Chadli, 45’), R. Lukaku (Benteke, 45’)

Portugal: Beto, Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, William, Moutinho (Bruno Fernandes, 86’), João Mário (Manuel Fernandes, 62’), Bernardo Silva (André Silva, 79’), Gelson Martins (Quaresma, 65’) Guedes

 

Comments (19)

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Thanks Tom. I'm quite happy with the result and execution tonight too considering this was the #3 Ranked Team in the world.

I agree... the defensive position of all 4 backs were very good. Guerreiro seemed to be more fit today which helped...

Thanks Tom. I'm quite happy with the result and execution tonight too considering this was the #3 Ranked Team in the world.

I agree... the defensive position of all 4 backs were very good. Guerreiro seemed to be more fit today which helped and by the grace of God... Fonte played very well.

I thought William played a very tidy game as well and his passing was better than I've seen in the past.

Guedes (reminds me of a young Figo) and Bernardo (reminds me of a young Deco) were stand-outs up front.

I'm not convinced on Gelson (looks like he can do damage then the play fizzles out).

This next generation of players needs to look past CR7 and just have the confidence to shoot in the World Cup.

To me the biggest area to clean up today was the "through passes". Too many times I saw our guys holding onto the ball a few seconds too long (a few times we put our guys offside).

Love this site.

Cheers

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One more thing.... I love Pepe's black boots with the all white kits. Think it would be a cool look if all players got their shoe sponsors to set them up with the same look for the World Cup.

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A much better performance overall.from the team as a whole and I think with a few tweaks and as some players find their grove...we will see a very strong team who cam compete with anyone.

A few key points:

Guerreiro looked 100x better than his...

A much better performance overall.from the team as a whole and I think with a few tweaks and as some players find their grove...we will see a very strong team who cam compete with anyone.

A few key points:

Guerreiro looked 100x better than his first game and despite a few mistakes looked aharper and more fit...one more game and training while staying healthy will be a huge boost.

Having pace on the wing/upfront when b. Silva plays is important. I still am totally positive that if santos lets guedes play on that left side which is his position we are better off...as he said in his interview....he is not normally playing that role and whenever he picked up the ball o the flanks and cut inside to break lines....our attacks were dangerous....PLAY HIM ON THE WING Santos!!!! He wasnt one of the best attackers in laliga on the left for no reason.


That brings me to my second point....J.Mario on the left again....he had a good game but is wasted out there....he doesnt have crazy pace like the others and he was always coming deep and central which were the moments when he looked best...of tunisia showed anything ia that he is a 10 or 8....not a winger...come on!


Fonte and Pepe looked better and cedric too but is that the quality of fonte and cedric or just more time together on the traing pitch...I guess we will see...I still think ricardo offers more on the flank but whatever clicks on the back and keeps the goals out I can be happy with. Lets see.


Ronaldo up dront would have finished some of the chances but with the quality of our quite young attack making those chances we will have plenty of firepower...


Moutinho looked better adrien silva in that mid pairing but I still would have like to see b.fernandes get a run out in that role. Maybe he will start next game.

My starting line up based on the 2 games with a Santos experimenting a little for the algeria friendly would be....

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

Bring andre silva for j. Mario, quaresma for guedes, gelson for b. Silva and j.moutinho for b. Fernandes

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Match

Did anyone see when Guedes picked up the ball, dashed through the center of the pitch and past his marker? What a thrill. His devastating pace and acceleration reminds me of a young CR. I can't see how Santos leaves him out the starting...

Match

Did anyone see when Guedes picked up the ball, dashed through the center of the pitch and past his marker? What a thrill. His devastating pace and acceleration reminds me of a young CR. I can't see how Santos leaves him out the starting line up in Russia. Fonte made some nice interceptions so glad to see his experience matters but I still wouldn't trust a guy who now plays in China let alone has just 7 apps this year to successfully defend a 1 v 1 situation on a counter attack. Although I can see already today how our team has been collectively instructed to limit the time and space when being in vulnerable positions. Joao Mario was all over the pitch again, his work rate is why he's so important. He backed up Raphael Guerreiro on multiple occasions. All in all, I'm proud of our young guys and the fearless mentality that Santos' has instilled in this squad. Since we won the Euros, our team looks unfazed no matter how talented, or over hyped the opposition.

My line-up

Patricio
Guerreiro----Pepe----Dias----Cedric
-----------------William-----------------------
--------------------Joao Mario---------------
Bernardo-----------------------Guedes-----
--------------CR7----Andre Silva--------------

I am really interested in seeing how Gonçalo Guedes and Andre Silva play off each other. I don't expect 442 against Spain but I'd want to see this line-up vs Iran especially with Queiroz. With that being said Moutinho or Adrien next to William is a must when playing against Spain or other caliber teams and I think this forces Bernardo out of the equation. Considering the years of majorly relying on CR7 to score goals and finally having been blessed with a so far proven secondary scorer in Andre Silva. The goals between them are a major key if Portugal is to qualify out of the group and become a serious contender. Also knowing what Joao Mario brings to the table on both ends, he is definitely our glue guy and has to start.

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William was an absolute beast
Joao Moutinho was Fantastic
Joao Mario was great again
Fonte to everyone’s relief was a rock back there
Pepe was his usual amazing self

Only complaint I have is that Guedes needs to either play on the left wing or...

William was an absolute beast
Joao Moutinho was Fantastic
Joao Mario was great again
Fonte to everyone’s relief was a rock back there
Pepe was his usual amazing self

Only complaint I have is that Guedes needs to either play on the left wing or next to Ronaldo up top then we’ll see the goals come

Also Manuel Fernandes was again bad. Ruben Neves should feel even more hard done by if these performances continue from him.

Hoping Bruno gets some actually playing time next game

Overall quite happy with the performance. Confidence over our chances is going up as we play each game.

Can’t believe Belgium and England are rated higher than us by so called experts

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@Ash Yeah I think its insulting especially that England is and always seems to be more rated than Portugal even given the fact Portugal have done better than them in the Euros & World Cup since 2004 oh and that Portugal are the current EURO...

@Ash Yeah I think its insulting especially that England is and always seems to be more rated than Portugal even given the fact Portugal have done better than them in the Euros & World Cup since 2004 oh and that Portugal are the current EURO CHAMPIONS, At least Belgium have a few World Class players... and if they were to click could cause any team in the World Cup real damage but probably won't

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I will never understand the hatred many football fans have towards the Seleção. I watched videos of Portugal highlight matches and I just see people hating on the Portuguese team by people saying we are overrated and we are nothing without...

I will never understand the hatred many football fans have towards the Seleção. I watched videos of Portugal highlight matches and I just see people hating on the Portuguese team by people saying we are overrated and we are nothing without Ronaldo. I dont get the point: why do people come to a portugal national team video to trash us?? Why is there so much hatred towards the Portuguese team?? Some of the hate, I understand it is because of Ronaldo, but one thing is to hate Ronaldo and insulting him, other is to insult the portuguese team. I mean, I don't see these kind of comments in other teams videos, I don't see other teams getting insulted.

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They hate us cause they ain't us.

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Enjoyed reading the article,
Happy to know that Portugal played a good game.
Now, We need to be in Russia to cheer our team and see Portugal lift the WC.

VIVA PORTUGAL

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Let's go forward. Yes I believe this team has a potential to go deep, and yes I just can't understand all this hate experts have to this Portugal Team, and why is it because of Ronaldo? IS having the best player in the world hurt that much? This...

Let's go forward. Yes I believe this team has a potential to go deep, and yes I just can't understand all this hate experts have to this Portugal Team, and why is it because of Ronaldo? IS having the best player in the world hurt that much? This drove me crazy and frustrated but again loyal to this one team since 96 even though I'm not Portuguese.

Let's drive them crazy again and get crowned the world champions. I don't mind being hated and underrated and yet win the world cup. In the end, History will talk about the win itself not the hate.

Portugal all the way, get your Portuguese flag ready to wave in Moscow, Lisbon, and all around the world. Let's mark July 15 2018 Portuguese!

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Takeaways from the game:

The good:

Bernardo Silva is class.
Joao Mouthino still good.
Fonte played surprisingly well.
Guedes needs to be a consistent starter
William Carvalho is a rock
Joao Mário is Solid
Pepe is a beast as always

The Bad:

Br...

Takeaways from the game:

The good:

Bernardo Silva is class.
Joao Mouthino still good.
Fonte played surprisingly well.
Guedes needs to be a consistent starter
William Carvalho is a rock
Joao Mário is Solid
Pepe is a beast as always

The Bad:

Bruno Fernandes not given enough chances

Manuel Fernandes has looked horrible the last few games. Always looks slow and sloppy passing! Why this guy was called up over Neves is a joke.

Wish Dias was given the chance to play against a top team.

William Carvalho gets hurt or misses games due to cards and We will be screwed. No one can replace him or fill his position on this team imo.

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I was impressed with our performance yesterday and I think those were good signs for the WC!!! Apart from the opening 15 mins when we were a little slow to get going, we were the better and more composed team for the rest of the match. I think if...

I was impressed with our performance yesterday and I think those were good signs for the WC!!! Apart from the opening 15 mins when we were a little slow to get going, we were the better and more composed team for the rest of the match. I think if you consider that Belgium were at home and at full strength, and we weren't (minus CR7 and Patricio and Andre Silva for most of the match, who i think should be a titular in every important match), I think it was clear to see that we are better than Belgium overall, and they are one of the strongest teams in Europe on paper, so that is very encouraging.

After all the doom and gloom about our defence, I thought we were rock solid at the back and Belgium's attack hardly had a sniff. People recently claiming that Fonte shouldn't even have made the squad were made to eat their words last night. He was fantastic at the back throughout. Just because he's gone to the China league means he's not good enough anymore? Him and Pepe were the best CB pairing at the Euros just two years ago, and with Dias as a talented young backup, pehaps central defense isn't as much of a problem as some people have claimed, although I do agree it's the biggest issue we face for the tournament.

I thought Joao Mario did very well in a more central position, and he made a strong case to start in Russia with that performance. Moutinho showed again that he simply has to start against any strong opposition. He's got the experience and calm and know-how that we need in midfield and we always, always look better and more organised in possession when he's there. William Carvalho was a rock in front of the defence and we have to hope he stays available throughout the tournament, because even though Adrien and Manuel Fernandes can both play DM, either of those guys would be a step down in quality from William in that position.

I think the only reason we didn't win the match last night was because we played so long without a true CF. Andre Silva should have come on a lot earlier for the hapless Gelson Martins. I just don't see the hype with Gelson, I really don't. He's got technical ability no doubt, but very poor decision making and loses possession of the ball way too often. Personally I would've brought either Nani or Eder ahead of Gelson. Hopefully Santos saw that Andre Silva has to start in the World Cup. Ronaldo and Silva in attack, with either Guedes or Bernardo supporting them (depending on the opposition). Quaresma is best as an impact sub in the second half. But overall, the signs were very encouraging last night. When we take a match seriously we are a match for anyone, and we have good possibilities to have a successful tournament.

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