How Will Portugal Line Up Against Brazil?
With Portugal set to take on Brazil in a glamour friendly in Boston on Tuesday, the big news ahead of the clash is that Cristiano Ronaldo won't be present.
The Portuguese goal machine dismantled Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night with a well-taken hat-trick but has been ruled out of the Brazil match due to tendinitis, per Goal.com.
Hey #Boston fans, unfortunately I'm injured and I'll miss the game against Brazil. But thank you so much for your incredible support.— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) September 8, 2013
This may be bad news for Seleccao fans and, in fact, anyone who will be attending the match at Gillette Stadium, but it will give Portugal manager Paulo Bento a chance to test out some "plan B" formations against one of the genuine heavyweights of the game in Brazil.
The Brazilians suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Switzerland on August 15, their first defeat of the year, but recovered in style to thump Australia 6-0 in Brasilia on Saturday.
No replacement player has been called into the Portugal side in Ronaldo's absence, meaning Nani is the man most likely to slot into the starting lineup to fill the yawning gap left by the Real Madrid attacker.
Considering the strength of the opposition, the Portugal gaffer is unlikely to want to tinker with the rest of his starting 11 at all.
As Brazil showed against a flummoxed Australian side, any signs of weakness will be instantly exploited with extreme prejudice, so Paulo Bento will be cautious to avoid a telling defeat that would leave psychological scars ahead of next year's World Cup.
Depending on how the match progresses, we may see some experimentation with attacking options later in the game from Bento.
Certainly, the side's ability to score goals will be one of the manager's primary concerns.
Sans Ronaldo, the Portugal side has the somewhat unthreatening air of a missile without its warhead, so the key for Bento will be finding that explosive charge.
Nelson Oliveira is likely to make an appearance at some stage to add some pace to the attack, but Helder Postiga and Nani will be the players expected to provide the spark and, ideally, goals.
With Dani Alves ruled out for Brazil, Nani may look to exploit the declining pace of his replacement, Maicon, down the left for Portugal.
The task facing the Seleccao is a daunting one, but a favorable result would be a huge boost to their resolve heading into the final stretch of World Cup qualifying.
Predicted Portugal Starting 11: Rui Patricio, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Joao Pereira, Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Helder Postiga, Vieirinha
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