England stuttered to a 2-1 victory over Australia in a game that served more to highlight the Three Lions’ defensive weakness than their attacking prowess. Like Turkey in the previous England international, the Aussies had more than enough openings to create chances and do damage, but their own lack of clinical finishing prevented them from earning a positive result.
Roy Hodgson cannot have failed to spot the warning signs in those two games though, and against better opposition any mistakes or weaknesses at the back will be ruthlessly exposed. Thursday’s final warm up game will come after the England boss has whittled his squad down to 23 and Portugal will provide a stern test as they prepare for their own assault on France in just over a week’s time.
There have been some fiery games between these two teams over recent tournaments, and it’s the Portuguese who have had the upper hand. England have fallen foul to Portugal three times in tournaments since 2000, twice after the agony of losing a penalty shoot out.
The first group game at Euro 2000 saw England race into a two-goal lead through Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman, but they were pegged back by half-time before Nuno Gomes scored the winner on the hour mark. That was the start of an ill-fated campaign which saw the Three Lions beat Germany but lose to Romania to get knocked out at the group stage. Portugal went on to the semi finals where they were beaten by eventual winners France.
It was the 2004 European Championships in Portugal when the two next met in competitive action, this time at the quarter final stage, memorable for Sol Campbell’s harshly ruled out goal at the death. The game was 1-1 at that point, and after a goal apiece in extra-time to make it 2-2 it was another penalty heartache for England. The usually reliable David Beckham fired his penalty over and Darius Vassell saw his saved as Portugal progressed 6-5 in the shoot out. The Portuguese went one further on home soil to reach the final, but were beaten by the unlikely winners Greece.
The 2006 World Cup saw rivalries renewed but a 0-0 draw was most memorable for Wayne Rooney’s sending off for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher were all off target as England fell at the quarter final stage once again. Portugal went on to reach the semi finals where they were beaten 1-0 by France through a Zidane penalty.
That history adds a certain spice to this game, even if it is a friendly, and the draw appeals at +244 with Marathonbet
Including a pair of 1-1 friendly results, it’s now four matches in a row between the two which have ended in draws, and it would be no surprise to see them cancel each other out again at Wembley.
The First Eleven?
At the time of writing Roy Hodgson faces a dilemma over which two players to leave out of his final squad, after Fabian Delph was ruled out with injury. Likely candidates to miss the cut include Danny Drinkwater, Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford. Whichever two don’t get on the plane, it’s unlikely to affect England’s starting eleven and Roy Hodgson is expected to go with something approaching his first eleven after mixing up his line up in the prior games versus Turkey and Australia.
Portugal visit Wembley off the back of a 3-0 win over Norway, with Lille’s Eder playing up front and getting on the scoresheet. England fans hoping to see Ronaldo in action might be disappointed after the Real Madrid forward played 120 minutes of the Champions League final win. He is likely to be rested but may make a late cameo appearance if he suffered no ill effects from Saturday night’s game.
Portugal generally have a defensive frame of mind, as seven 1-0 wins in qualifying testifies, but they are not watertight by any stretch. Russia, Bulgaria, Belgium and Serbia have all scored goals against this Portugal team in their last six internationals, and England do have the attacking quality to cause anyone problems.
We’ve backed over 2-5 goals in both of England’s two recent friendlies and been rewarded both times as they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet. The Three Lions also looked solid and dependable in qualifying, but they’ve now conceded in each of their last four friendlies and look very shaky at the back. A first choice back four is expected to start here, but Portugal have enough style to open them up and cause England problems.
England and Portugal to Draw
Thursday 2nd June, 19:45 GMT
England v Portugal – Both Teams to Score
Thursday 2nd June, 19:45 GMT
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