Portugal vs Iceland by Isaiah
Portugal is once again one of strong favorites to win the EURO and this time, the team is indeed capable of achieving great things, but at the same time, it won't be much of a surprise in case they under perform overall. That's what makes first game against Iceland so important, since a victory here, achieved in a bit easier manner would surely give a lot of morale boost in front of more important matches.
They took the first position in the qualifying group with relative ease, after the team suffered shocking home defeat against Albania at start, but they had seven consecutive victories to seal the first position. The team achieved two victories over Denmark, Serbia and Armenia and won on the road against Albania. As for the friendly matches, they had seven of these since the end of qualifying path, winning four and losing three of these.
In most recent matches, they won over Norway 3:0, then lost on the road to England 1:0, but improved overall impression with a 7:0 victory at home against Estonia just couple of days before the start of EURO. Cristiano Ronaldo is having some knock, but should be ready for this game. Coach Fernando Santos has plenty of choices in the midfield especially and it won't be a wonder if he opts for a bit more offensive 4-3-3 formation with Quaresma, Nani and Ronaldo upfront. Or with Ronaldo and Nani on the wings and Eder as number nine.
Icelanders were a sensation during the qualifiers and the team surely doesn't want to stop only here now. This is the first major competition for them, but the whole nation did improve a lot in previous years, as they also were close of reaching the World Cup, when the side got excluded during the play-off barrage game against Croatia.
Objectively, the fact that they have qualified now is a huge success and they can play without much pressure. However, they had opponents like Netherlands, Turkey and Czech Republic during the qualifying path and that's a great reason for optimism in their camp. In the most recent games, the team suffered 3:2 defeat away to Norway, but improve in last friendly game and won over Lichtenstein 4:0. Overall, they had nine games after the qualifiers, biggest number out of all twenty-four nations.
Iceland is a very organised and solid side, but nothing more than that. They should be playing in 4-4-2 formation with Sigursson deployed in a deeper role. Kolbeinn Sigthorson and Alfred Finnbogason could both start up front, with veteran forward Eidur Gudjohnsen coming from the bench.
- Portugal have won their last 7 matches (EURO Cup).
Portuguese side has much more quality for this level and maybe more important, much more experience. Players from Portugal may sometime struggle to score, but here they should be fully fired up. Once they get going, I see them not stopping that easily - especially since they have probably one of the strongest offensive lines at the tournament. Something modest Iceland can't be compared with in any way. Portuguese capabilities are more than known, while the odds remain very valuable in my eyes here.