7 June, 2013 - 13:03

World Cup qualifiers preview (Europe): Portugal vs Russia

World Cup qualifiers preview (Europe): Portugal vs Russia

Russia will be visiting Portugal in a hope both to extend their winning run of four games and clean sheet record.

Russia are currently sitting comfortably at the top of Group F with perfect record of four victories out of their four games. Portugal are just a point behind the leaders, but Russia have two games in hand.

With Pepe being suspended for the upcoming crucial game, Paulo Bento is set to decide who to team up with Bruno Alves in the centre of Portugal defense. Valencia man Ricardo Costa is likely to fill Pepe’s boots. Winger Nani is expected to return into the starting lineup after missing games against Israel and Azerbaijan through injuries.

Skipper Igor Denisov will re-join the squad after being sidelined for the last game against Brazil due to illness, with Viktor Faizulin and Roman Shirokov expecting to battle for the other central midfield spot. Aleksandr Kerzhakov will start as the lonely striker.

Portugal boss Paulo Bento revealed his guys will do their utmost to outplay their main Group F rivals. He said: “It’s evidently an important match, we can’t hide it. We are all aware that we are a bit more pressed than before given a smaller margin of error after dropping a few points along the way. We must be ready to cope with this situation. It’s our reality right now so we need to face that situation as natural and with some conviction that we can conquer what we want, which is the three points.”

At the same tim Russia manager Fabio Capello said he is not going to “park the bus” in Portugal. He said: “When I come on to the pitch it’s never thinking about playing for a draw but always to win. If the opponent forces me to play defensively it is because they are stronger and I will defend. But if I have the possibility to attack I do so, it’s not part of my mentality to play around with the maths.”

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Author: Basil Naumov

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