Soccer UEFA Euro Qualification - Group Stage
Portugal vs Bosnia - Match Preview
⚽ 17 June 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
After a bitter loss against Morocco in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, which led to the departure of iconic coach Fernando Santos, Portugal has bounced back to make a perfect start to their Euro 2024 qualification campaign (ECQ). Facing the two lowest-ranked nations by FIFA in Group J, Liechtenstein (#199) and Luxembourg (#91), the Euro 2016 winners emerged victorious with a combined score of 10-0, indicating a strong chance of securing their eighth consecutive appearance in the European Championship.
That would have pleased new coach Roberto Martinez, who joined in January with the demanding responsibility of managing 38-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in the twilight of his international career. Despite the status of their strong favourite here, it's worth noting that Portugal's single ECQ home loss this century (W14, D6) came against Albania, who have currently ranked only 11 places below Bosnia and Herzegovina (#57) by FIFA.
The hosts should be even more cautious knowing that Bosnia earned promotion to League A in the last UEFA Nations League. After a failed first attempt during the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign, Faruk Hadzibegic was given a second chance to qualify Bosnia for their first-ever European Championship, but after winning their first Group J match, they suffered a damaging 2-0 reversal to a Slovakia side who look likely to be their main rival for the runner’s up spot in this group behind Portugal.
The French-Bosnian coach's main mission here is to improve on some poor recent away form, which has seen the visitors fail to win 12 of their last 13 international road trips (W1, D6, L6). However, the Dragons can draw inspiration from their 1-1 draws against France and Italy during that run, two nations currently ranked in FIFA’s top ten, along with Portugal (#9).
📋 Players to watch: Ronaldo will be looking to double up again after he scored a brace in each of Portugal’s two matches in this ECQ campaign, as well as in the previous H2H encounter, which was a 6-2 victory back in 2011. Rade Krunić also scored a brace in Bosnia's first ECQ 2024 match. All four of his international goals were netted within the opening 40 minutes.
⚡ Hot streak: Bosnia is on a run of 11 consecutive ECQ away games without a draw (W3, L8).
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