Two of Europe’s best forwards go head to head on Thursday evening in Marseille as Poland play Portugal in the Euro 2016 Quarter-Finals. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski are two of the continent’s most prolific strikers. The pair hit 93 goals in all competitions between them for their clubs in the 2015/16 campaign.

Portugal players celebrate at the end of extra-time against Croatia

The Portuguese are in the final eight after a Ricardo Quaresma winner in the 117th-minute against Croatia on Sunday, however, it was a very dull game of football and probably the least exciting in the tournament so far. Meanwhile, Poland are through to their first quarter-final of a major tournament since the 1982 World Cup as they beat Switzerland on penalties, a miss from the spot for midfielder Granit Xhaka was the only difference between the two nations for 120 minutes.

The winners of this tie will play either Wales or Belgium – who play each other in Lille on Friday.

Team News

Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is set to continue between the sticks as team-mate Wojciech Szczesny is still struggling with a thigh injury.

The return of Andre Gomes and Raphael Guerreiro will be a massive boost for Portugal, the pair both joined in on the Wednesday training session after minor setbacks. Defender Guerreiro and midfielder Gomes were both part of Portugal’s 1-0 victory against Croatia but sustained small muscular problems.

Manager Fernando Santos is expected to have a fully-fit squad to pick from for the game against Poland.

Last Meeting

The two nations last met four years ago in an international friendly played in Poland but the game finished a bore goalless draw. The meeting prior to that though was back in 2007 in a Euro 2008 qualifier which took place in Estadio da Luz, Lisbon. Poland took the lead just before the interval thanks to a goal from Mariusz Lewandowski but minutes after the break and Portugal got an equaliser, scored by Atletico Madrid man Nuno Maniche – who is now retired. The home side took the lead in the 73rd minute as Cristiano Ronaldo put Portugal ahead before a late Jacek Krzynowek goal made sure the game ended honours even.

All in all, the two countries have met ten times with Portugal just edging it with four wins to Poland’s three – meaning three games have had a drawing outcome.

Opta Stats

  • This is going to be Poland and Portugal’s third meeting at a major tournament, although the first at a European Championship. So far they have one victory each, a 1-0 Poland win in the 1986 World Cup but a 4-0 victory for Portugal in 2002.
  • Poland are currently unbeaten in their last three encounters with Portugal, one win and two draws.
  • Poland have never scored more than one goal in a game at the Euros (10 games).
  • Among all the nations to make it to the Euro 2016 Quarter-Finals, Poland are the lowest scorers with just three goals in their first four matches at the tournament.
  • Portugal have played the most amount of games at European Championships, without actually winning the trophy (32 games).

My Prediction

Neither team has massively impressed me so far in the first four games. I can see it being a very even game and whoever goes through will be able to consider themselves lucky with how both countries are performing at the moment. Portugal are yet to win a single game within 90 minutes of football, which amazes me considering they have arguably the second-best player in the world at the moment – Cristiano Ronaldo. Just as Poland have me thinking as to how they’ve come this far, their star man Robert Lewandowski hasn’t even turned up yet.

Portugal are defensively sound despite conceding three in the group game against Hungary. If you study the goals, all three were outside of the box so it is really difficult to break the Portuguese down if you want to get in front of their goal. Saying that though I think Poland may just turn up the tempo slightly with what’s at stake and perhaps Lewandowski may appear for the first time in this tournament.

 

 

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