MX23RW : Tuesday, August 3 22:41:22| >> :600:2290590:2290590:
Sep 5, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Estádio Do Dragão
Cancelo (41'), Jota (58'), Felix (70'), Silva (90+5')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Petkovic (90+1')
Jedvaj (60'), Barisic (71')

Preview: Portugal vs. Croatia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's UEFA Nations League clash between Portugal and Croatia, including team news and predicted lineups.

UEFA Nations League holders Portugal will kick off their 2020-21 League A Group 3 campaign with a home match against Croatia on Saturday night.

Portugal beat the Netherlands in last year's final to claim the title, but Croatia failed to make an impression in the same tournament as they picked up just one win from their four matches.

Match preview

Portugal's Bruno Fernandes celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring their second goal in June 2018© Reuters

Portugal triumphed in the inaugural season of the UEFA Nations League, beating Switzerland in the semi-finals of the competition before recording a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final last June.

It would be fair to say that the nation's main focus is on preparing for next summer's European Championships, but they will still be keen to make another impression in this competition.

Fernando Santos's side have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, including a 2-0 success away to Luxembourg in their last game in November 2019.

Portugal qualified for the European Championships courtesy of a second-placed finish in Group B, and they are the defending champions, having overcome holders France in the 2016 final.

A Selecao will continue their UEFA Nations League campaign against Sweden on September 8, while they are pencilled in for a glamour friendly against Spain on October 7.

Croatia's Ivan Perisic celebrates scoring their second goal against Wales with Luka Modric and team mates on June 8, 2019© Reuters

Croatia, meanwhile, will also be present at next summer's European Championships, having finished top of Group E, picking up 17 points from their eight matches during a strong qualification campaign.

Unbeaten in their last six competitive matches, Vatreni will also enter this match in good form, and there is no question that they are a team to be taken seriously on the world stage.

Zlatko Dalic insisted ahead of this match that the UEFA Nations League is "important" but was keen to stress that the nation's main focus is on their upcoming World Cup qualifiers and the European Championships.

Croatia, who have lost four of their previous five games against Portugal, will continue their UEFA Nations League campaign away to France on September 8 before taking on Sweden on November 11.

As mentioned, the 2018 World Cup finalists failed to make an impression in the 2018-19 competition, picking up just one win from their four matches against Spain and England.

Portugal Nations League form: WDDWW
Portugal form (all competitions): WWWLWW

Croatia Nations League form: LDWL
Croatia form (all competitions): WDWDWW

Team News

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League on June 5, 2019.© Reuters

Portugal boss Santos is expected to send a strong XI onto the field, with Cristiano Ronaldo set to win his 165th cap, and he will be looking for his 100th goal for the national side.

New Barcelona youngster Trincao has been included in the squad and could play a part, while Granada goalkeeper Rui Silva and Granada defender Domingos Duarte could also make their first appearances.

Bruno Fernandes ended the season terrifically for Manchester United and will start in midfield, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Wolverhampton Wandererers' Ruben Neves should both feature.

There will be some notable absentees for Croatia, though, with neither Luka Modric nor Ivan Rakitic in the squad for the clashes with Portugal and France.

Ivan Perisic is expected to play despite representing Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, though, and there will still be plenty of familiar faces in the away side's XI.

Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic is likely to join Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozovic in the middle of the park, while Bruno Petkovic is expected to get the nod through the middle, having found the back of the net on five occasions in just eight appearances for the national team.

Former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren should also feature for Croatia as part of a back four.

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Semedo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro; Neves, Danilo, Fernandes; Ronaldo, A Silva, B Silva

Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Jedvaj, Lovren, Caleta-Car, Barisic; Brozovic, Kovacic; Perisic, Vlasic, Rebic; Petkovic

SM words green background

We say: Portugal 2-1 Croatia

This is a very, very difficult match to call between two strong teams. Both will feel that they can cause issues in the final third of the field, but we are finding it hard to look past Portugal on home soil, ultimately backing them to shade a close game in Porto.

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Wednesday's key events

· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also guaranteed a medal, but will look to ensure that is either gold or silver as he takes on Cuba's Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final (7.35am)

· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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