For the second straight match Portugal rode their luck as an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal proved decisive in a barely deserved win against Morocco. Only a rock-solid display of goalkeeping by Rui Patricio kept the Africans at bay, and Fernando Santos knows his team has to improve vastly if they are to make an impact at this tournament.

It wasn’t all bad news. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio continues to prove he has the temperament and the talent for the big occasion, centre-backs Pepe and José Fonte looked more like the impenetrable partnership they were at Euro 2016, and Cristiano Ronaldo added another victim to the endless list of teams powerless to prevent him from scoring.

However, it was a forgettable match for left-back Raphael Guerreiro and talented midfield stars Bernardo Silva, João Mário and Bruno Fernandes, who have all succumbed to big stage nerves so far at Russia 2018. Read the ratings for the Seleção players.

Tom Kundert gives his Portugal player ratings versus Morocco for ESPNFC – click here to read them.

 

Comments (10)

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Fair ratings as Bernardo Silva was noticeably the poorest player.

Should have deducted a point from Pepe for his pathetic dive from a tap on the shoulder.

Somebody get these guys some starbucks coffee or redbulls. They need to wake up. They...

Fair ratings as Bernardo Silva was noticeably the poorest player.

Should have deducted a point from Pepe for his pathetic dive from a tap on the shoulder.

Somebody get these guys some starbucks coffee or redbulls. They need to wake up. They are playing with one leg on the Algarve beaches already.

Forca Portugal!

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Could anyone confirm If a Portugal-Iran draw plus Spain losing to Morocco mean both Portugal and Iran qualify? Would be nice to see Iran advance because of Queiroz.

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Raphael Guerreiro played a good game to contain the Morrocon Amrabat through most of the game. During the later stage of game Amrabat moved to the right flank to try his luck as he was not given enough space to operate by Raphael Guerreiro.

There...

Raphael Guerreiro played a good game to contain the Morrocon Amrabat through most of the game. During the later stage of game Amrabat moved to the right flank to try his luck as he was not given enough space to operate by Raphael Guerreiro.

There was total pressure on the defence and Goal keeper due to non functional of midfield players, So I would give Raphael 7.

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Neville, I rarely disagree with most comments on this site because everyone tends to be well versed in football matters, but seriously? You thought Raphael Guerreiro played a good game? He was beaten time and time again on that left flank and...

Neville, I rarely disagree with most comments on this site because everyone tends to be well versed in football matters, but seriously? You thought Raphael Guerreiro played a good game? He was beaten time and time again on that left flank and where all Morocco's best play came from. His defending was truly awful and he gave needless free kicks away. However, I must admit that this may have been largely due to Joao Mario not giving the support required in defense on that left flank and basically just disappeared in the match. At least Bernardo Silva was involved in a lot of the play but gave the ball away a few times with wayward passes.

In my opinion we need to rectify the fact that players are playing out of position, Guedes needs to be put on the left wing which is his preferred position and he works hard which will alleviate Raph Guerreiros defensive duty as he clearly needs assistance in that department. Next, its quite unfair that Andre Silva basically got us to the world cup in the qualifying stages with his goals and now is just sidelined. Give him a go, and he would have put away those chances Guedes had. Bruno Fernandes is also playing out of position on the left flank, he likes to use the space in the middle and offers a lot going forward there, not to mention he is a workhorse and would offer that extra bit of presence in the middle of the park to greater opposition. The defense at this point shouldn't be touched and in all fairness to them they have done a decent job....in my opinion its the midfield which hasn't given them enough support and been unorganised. For me it's a hard choice to go with either moutinho or bruno fernandes, this is the only question, and the answer is it depends on whether we want to be more attack or defensive minded. My instinct would tell me to start cautiously with moutinho and then later sub him with B.Fernandes when his legs start to tire and we are chasing the game or need a goal.


Therefore, my starting lineup would be as follows:

Patricio
Cedric pepe fonte raph
william moutinho
B.silva guedes
Ronaldo
andre silva

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SirLopes, First of all our midfielder was non functional so was the pressure on the back four. Most of the Moroccan moves was through the right flanks where Raphael was busy wrestling with Amrabat. I don't think anyone in the squad could do a...

SirLopes, First of all our midfielder was non functional so was the pressure on the back four. Most of the Moroccan moves was through the right flanks where Raphael was busy wrestling with Amrabat. I don't think anyone in the squad could do a better job than him. He did conceive free kicks but yet he stood his ground.

I presume Andre silva will get a chance next match, who needs to be more agile and fast as a forward.

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SirLopes, fully agree. That's our best lineup. Bruno Fernandes and Gelson Martins have very little business being on the field – both lack the capacity and intelligence for Portugal to go all the way. Adrien, Mario and Quaresma are the evident...

SirLopes, fully agree. That's our best lineup. Bruno Fernandes and Gelson Martins have very little business being on the field – both lack the capacity and intelligence for Portugal to go all the way. Adrien, Mario and Quaresma are the evident impact substitutions. I would set it up as a 4-1-3-2:

Patricio; Cedric, Fonte, Pepe, Raphael; William; Bernardo, Moutinho, Guedes; Ronaldo, Silva

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Portugal is sure to have more possession against Iran, but I don't see the team being markedly better in the midfield with regard to possession and passing simply by moving Guedes to the left wing, removing Joao Mario (from the left side) and...

Portugal is sure to have more possession against Iran, but I don't see the team being markedly better in the midfield with regard to possession and passing simply by moving Guedes to the left wing, removing Joao Mario (from the left side) and adding a pure striker.

I want Andre Silva to start and be on the field with Guedes, Ronaldo and Bernardo, ideally, but at what point does it become obvious that Moutinho starting next to William isn't the answer at the tournament level? I used to think having Moutinho as a starter gave the team a higher floor and lower ceiling, but I'm not sure the higher floor part of that is true anymore. He did save Portugal with two timely clearances when Morocco got by Raph to the end line yesterday.

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After watching this, we need to introduce another midfielder. I think Santos has to go to 4-3-3

Patricio

Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro

William, Adrien

Moutinho

Gelson, CR7, Guedes

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Sir Lopes, I also like the look of that formation. I also wouldn't mind seeing Guerreiro start as our left winger with either Ricardo or Mario Lopes deputizing at left-back. Guerreiro played as a left-sided central midfielder under Thomas Tuchel...

Sir Lopes, I also like the look of that formation. I also wouldn't mind seeing Guerreiro start as our left winger with either Ricardo or Mario Lopes deputizing at left-back. Guerreiro played as a left-sided central midfielder under Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund two seasons ago and he was superb. We would have greater defensive solidity down that side and he would be far more dynamic (and comfortable) in that left-sided midfield role than Joao Mario, Bruno Fernandes, or Manuel Fernandes. Guedes would be the most attack minded option, but I don't think he would offer the same amount of poise on the ball as Guerreiro.

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I suspect Santos will keep the same starting XI.

Team´s not been very convincing when in possession.

I´d like to see A Silva upfront, rather than G Guedes.

I think Santos wants him to replay Nani in 2016. But the guy can´t be on the left, in...

I suspect Santos will keep the same starting XI.

Team´s not been very convincing when in possession.

I´d like to see A Silva upfront, rather than G Guedes.

I think Santos wants him to replay Nani in 2016. But the guy can´t be on the left, in middle, and circulating, for 90 mins...

I wonder if, against Iran, a really classic 4-4-2; or a 4-3-1-2, could be an alternative to the usual hybrid 4-4-2, in view of B Silva and J Mário´s lack of performance.

G Guedes´s been doing a lot of work which is not very visible, unfortunately for him, and what we do see is when he misses chances.

Classic 4-4-2 would be A Silva (#9) + CR (# 9 1/2); two out-and-out wingers (G Guedes; Gélson); William + Moutinho / Adrien / M Fernandes in the middle; Ruben Dias for Fonte. This wold allow for flexibility with subs, including B Fernandes coming in as #10 (becoming a 4-1-3-2), I believe his best spot.

The 4-3-1-2 is somewhat similar to what we´ve sometimes seen: William and Adrien/Moutinho/M Fernandes; B Fernandes as #10 (or Bernardo, but Bernardo is too short and thin, so when he´s not inspired he becomes a sitting duck); CR and either A Silva (positional striker) or G Guedes (mobile and wide fwd). This would also allow for great flexibility with subs too.

Another option is Mário Rui as LB and pushing Guerreiro up, in the case of A Silva in the starting XI.


What´s your say about this tactical approach?

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