22 March, 2013 - 07:22

World Cup qualifiers. Key fixtures: Israel vs Portugal

World Cup qualifiers. Key fixtures: Israel vs Portugal

Israel face Portugal in what turns out to be the decisive game for their chances to claim the second place finish in the Group F. Israel suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Russia in their first World Cup qualifying game and were held to a draw by underdogs Azerbaijan.

However they managed to bounce back with two successive wins over minnows Luxembourg to retain the chances of finishing in the second place, with favourites Portugal struggling to meet high expectations of their fans and pundits. Currently Israel are lying in the second spot with seven points from four games, five points behind the leaders Russia and level on points with third-placed Portugal outstripping the rivals on goals difference. Should Israel battle to an unlikely win over resilient Portugal, then they will cement the second spot.

Portugal are looking to end up their frustrating run of four games without a win. They have beaten Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, lost to Russia and tied the game against Northern Ireland in World Cup qualifying games. They also were held to a 2-2 draw by Gabon and lost 2-3 against Ecuador in their latest friendly games.

Israel team news:

Maccabi Tel Aviv defender Yoav Ziv and Vitesse centre-back Dan Mori are ruled out of the clash with Portugal.

Portugal team news:

Joao Moutinho remains a major doubt for the game against Israel, he is set to be assessed by the Portugal medical staff to determine whether he is fit enough to be included in the starting XI. Nani will definitely miss the game due to hamstring problem.

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Author: Basil Naumov

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