Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Euro Champ Qualifying clash between Portugal and Iceland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Already-qualified Portugal will bring a hugely impressive Euro 2024 qualification campaign to a close with a contest against Iceland in Lisbon on Sunday night.
Roberto Martinez’s side have a perfect record in Group J, winning all nine of their games to collect 27 points, and they have already guaranteed themselves a spot in Pot 1 for the finals draw, but Iceland have missed out on the chance to qualify from this section, sitting down in fourth position....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
There will, of course, be tougher tests to come, but Portugal head coach Martinez has made a hugely impressive start to his time at the helm, leading the team to nine straight victories.
The Iberian nation were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup courtesy of a 1-0 loss to Morocco, but they have not been beaten since that clash last December, sailing through their Euro 2024 qualification campaign with nine straight wins.
Portugal have scored 34 times and conceded just twice in the section, and they will enter this match off the back of a 2-0 success over Liechtenstein on Thursday night.
Martinez’s side have already guaranteed a spot in Pot 1 for the finals draw, and it will be fascinating to see how this hugely talented group performs next summer; Portugal won Euro 2016, but they only reached the round of 16 at Euro 2020, which went down as a disappointing tournament.
The hosts will be seeking a 10th straight win on Sunday, and while there is not anything substantial to play for, Martinez will again be assessing his squad, with a number of players hoping to do enough to cement a position in the final selection of players that will head to Germany next summer.
Iceland, though, have found it difficult in this section, boasting a record of three wins, one draw and five losses from their nine matches, which has left them down in fourth position on 10 points.
Slovakia qualified from the section alongside Portugal by recording a 4-2 win over Iceland on Thursday, while Luxembourg and Bosnia & Herzegovina have been confirmed in the playoffs.
Age Hareide’s side still have a slight chance of qualifying for the finals through the UEFA Nations League B playoff path, but it will be a difficult route into the tournament from that avenue.
Our Boys famously qualified for the European Championship for the first time in their history in 2016 and managed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, winning a lot of new supporters in the process.
Iceland also played at the 2018 World Cup, but they were not present at Euro 2020 and also failed to make the finals of the 2022 World Cup, so their likely absence from Euro 2024 is not too much of a surprise.
Portugal Euro Champ Qualifying form:
Iceland Euro Champ Qualifying form:
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Portugal boss Martinez is again expected to shuffle his pack for this match, with the team likely to show a number of changes from the one that started against Liechtenstein.
Diogo Costa could be back in goal, while Joao Palhinha, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro and Goncalo Inacio may be introduced into the XI for the contest in Lisbon.
Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted in the 67th minute against Liechtenstein after scoring, and it would not be a surprise to see him in the XI for this match, with the 38-year-old proving that he is still very much a key player for Portugal with 10 goals during the qualification campaign.
Matheus Nunes, Pepe, Rafael Leao and Nelson Semedo are notable absentees from the squad due to injuries, while Diogo Dalot withdrew from the group of players for personal reasons.
As for Iceland, Arnor Traustason was forced off in the 25th minute of the clash with Slovakia last time out through injury, and he will be unavailable for selection here.
As a result, Aron Gunnarsson could potentially come in for a start, while there are also expected to be a couple of alterations in the forward positions for this match.
Arnor Sigurdsson could keep his spot, but Alfred FInnbogason and Andri Gudjohnsen are likely to be introduced in the final third of the field on Sunday night.
Portugal possible starting lineup:Costa; Cancelo, Inacio, Dias, Guerreiro; Fernandes, Palhinha, B Silva; Felix, Ronaldo, Jota
Iceland possible starting lineup:Olafsson; Sampsted, Palsson, Ingason, Finnsson; Hlynsson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson; A Gudjohnsen, Finnbogason, A Sigurdsson
We say: Portugal 2-0 Iceland
The pressure is off for both teams, so it should be an open and entertaining game of football. Iceland are capable of making it a difficult match for Portugal, but the home side have been so strong in this section, and we would be very surprised if they were unable to make it 10 straight victories.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw:data
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Preview: Fenerbahce vs. Sivasspor – prediction, team news, lineups
Sports Mole previews Monday’s Turkish Super Lig clash between Fenerbahce and Sivasspor, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Fenerbahce seek to reclaim first place in the Super Lig table when they welcome Sivasspor to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Monday.
The round 14 encounter could see the home side claim their seventh triumph in front of their fans while their visitors aim for another encouraging result to continue their impressive road record....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Fenerbahce have had an impressive start to the season in Turkey but have struggled to replicate that in Europe lately, with Thursday’s 6-1 thrashing at Nordsjaelland leaving them third in their Europa Conference League group.
Ismail Kartal’s men seek a response to that disappointing continental performance and result when they host Sivasspor on Monday, keen to register another home victory.
While Adana Demirspor have accrued one more point than Fener in home games — 19-18 — both clubs have picked up six wins each in front of their fans.
The hitherto league-leading club returned to winning ways on home turf with a 2-1 triumph over Fatih Karagumruk on November 26, a much-needed success to banish the 3-2 disappointment against Trabzonspor at the start of the month.
With Galatasaray securing a 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Pendikspor on Saturday, the Yellow Canaries are three points behind their Istanbul rivals before taking to the field on Monday.
As for Sivasspor, the mid-table side will hope to worsen the misery of their hosts by producing a top performance in Istanbul.
The precedent does favour Yigidos, who have lost only one of their recent four Super Lig visits to Fenerbahce, even if that was their last visit in November 2022.
That 1-0 loss ended Sivasspor’s three-game undefeated run (two wins) against Monday’s opponents, and they seek to stun their more illustrious hosts yet again in gameweek 14.
Despite a 3-0 reverse at Karagumruk a fortnight back, the Sivas-based club have more road points (10) than all but two Super Lig clubs — the league’s leading two sides (16) — and aim to return to winning in Istanbul.
Servet Cetin will hope his team find the back of the net on Monday, as both away losses have come in games where they fired blanks, and Yigidos are undefeated in the four matches they scored.
Fenerbahce Turkish Super Lig form:
Fenerbahce form (all competitions):
Sivasspor Turkish Super Lig form:
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Fenerbahce have several injury issues, with Ferdi Kadioglu’s muscle injury expected to keep him out of action against Sivasspor.
Also sidelined with muscle issues are Mert Hakan Yandas, Miha Zajc, Fred and Rodrigo Becao, while Alexander Djiku (leg break), Serdar Aziz (ankle) and Lincoln (knee) are missing Monday’s fixture.
The away side do not have as many injury worries, with Burak Kapacak (thigh) and Modou Barrow (shoulder) not expected back for a few more weeks, while Bengali-Fode Koita is touch-and-go for round 14’s encounter.
Samu Saiz and Rey Manaj have netted four Super Lig goals apiece for Sivasspor, and the pair could play pivotal roles for Yigidos in Istanbul.
Fenerbahce possible starting lineup:Livakovic; Muldur, Akaydin, Oosterwolde, Osayi-Samuel; Crespo, Yuksek; Tadic, Szymanski, Kahveci; Dzeko
Sivasspor possible starting lineup:Vural; Okumus, Camara, Osmanpasa, Ciftci; Konak; Njie, Charisis, Saiz, Bassan; Manaj
We say: Fenerbahce 2-1 Sivasspor
Regardless of the hurt from their heavy Conference League defeat on Thursday, Fenerbahce should return to winning ways on Monday with a hard-fought victory over one of the league’s best travellers.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data
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Erik ten Hag hails “very important” Harry Maguire after summer exit talk
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag praises central defender Harry Maguire for turning his Red Devils career around....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has hailed Harry Maguire for his contribution to the team’s recent impressive results in the Premier League.
The Red Devils have won each of their last three league fixtures against Fulham, Luton Town and Everton, keeping clean sheets in all three games.
Maguire has been a vital player for the 20-time English champions in recent weeks, playing the full 90 minutes in each of their last six Premier League games, which have brought five wins.
The England international was heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford over the summer, with West Ham United believed to have had an offer accepted for him.
However, the 30-year-old decided to stay at Man United to fight for his place, and the ex-Sheffield United youngster is now first pick in the middle of the defence.
Maguire’s form is keeping Raphael Varane out of the side, and there is an argument that Ten Hag’s first-choice centre-back pairing will be Maguire and Lisandro Martinez once the latter has returned from injury.
Jonny Evans had been featuring alongside Maguire before picking up an injury, with Victor Lindelof now filling in as the left-sided centre-back.
Ten Hag has lavished praise on Maguire for ‘fighting back’ from a difficult period, hailing the centre-back’s “mentality” and “very important” contribution to the team’s recent success.
“Absolutely. Very important. And he fought back and he showed great mentality. He can be proud of himself. But as I say: we are in a season, we are in the right direction,” Ten Hag told MUTV.
“Harry is in the right direction with this team. Now we make the next steps because we want to be successful and Harry is very ambitious. He wants to win trophies. So then, you know, you have to give every day your best.”
Maguire is now set to remain at Old Trafford, especially as there is huge uncertainty surrounding the futures of Varane, Evans and Lindelof.
Varane is believed to be keen to leave the Red Devils next year, with a number of clubs from Saudi Arabia said to be keeping a close eye on his situation.
Both Evans and Lindelof only have contracts until next June, meanwhile, although it is thought that a 12-month extension will be activated in the latter’s deal.
Scott McTominay is another player who was heavily linked with a move away from Man United over the summer, but he has also been vital for Ten Hag in recent weeks, coming up with four goals in all competitions.
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Newcastle United rise to fifth with deserved win over Manchester United
Newcastle United jump to fifth in the Premier League table with a deserved 1-0 win over Manchester United at St James’ Park.
Newcastle United made it three successive wins against Manchester United in all tournaments for the first time in over 100 years with a deserved 1-0 Premier League victory over the tepid Red Devils at St James’ Park.
A succession of chances came and went for Eddie Howe’s men in the first half, but Man United’s luck ran out when Anthony Gordon fired home early in the second half to sink Erik ten Hag’s team – who were second best all afternoon – although a concerning injury to Nick Pope partially marred the Magpies’ success.
While a decimated Newcastle side put out the exact same XI from their Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain, a handful of changes from Ten Hag saw Anthony Martial, Kobbie Mainoo, Diogo Dalot and the returning Marcus Rashford come into the fold....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
However, Ten Hag’s alterations did little to stem the flow of a rampant Newcastle, who saw almost all of the ball in the opening stages and came close in the 18th minute through Miguel Almiron, but Andre Onana was equal to his low effort.
Alexander Isak and Jamaal Lascelles both came close in the few moments that followed; the former had a strike deflected wide by Harry Maguire before Lascelles headed over the bar, which was then shaking in the 40th minute as Kieran Trippier’s free kick landed just an inch too high.
Newcastle’s shot counter displayed a whopping 14 as the referee’s whistle blew to signal half time, but Man United’s clean sheet remained intact, mainly thanks to their hosts’ wastefulness in the final third.
Any harsh half-time words from Ten Hag clearly did not have the desired effect, as Newcastle finally made one of their many forays forward pay in the 55th minute, where Gordon gave the hosts a fully merited lead.
The sloppy Red Devils were punished for losing the ball in the defensive third, allowing Trippier to flash a low ball across the six-yard box, where Gordon was on hand to tap home at the back post.
The ex-Everton man’s opener saw him stretch his St James’ Park scoring streak to four successive Premier League matches, and Ten Hag responded by calling upon Antony and Rasmus Hojlund in place of the ineffective Martial and Rashford.
Man United’s alterations did little to spark any life into the meek visitors, who were indebted to Aaron Wan-Bissaka for making a crucial block to deny Lewis Miley in the 78th minute, but it was Fabian Schar’s turn to deny Sergio Reguilon from scoring a sensational volley with a terrific block of his own four minutes later.
As Pope dived to meet Reguilon’s blocked shot, though, the Newcastle number one injured himself and stayed down as Man United built their next attack, which was stopped in its tracks to allow the stricken Pope to receive treatment.
The Englishman was able to rise to his feet, but he was evidently struggling with his shoulder and slowly trudged off to be replaced by ex-Man United loanee Martin Dubravka.
The Newcastle number two had only been on the field a few moments before an Antony volley flew past him and into the back of the net, but Maguire – whom the ball took a nick off – was in an offside position, and the linesman’s flag came to the hosts’ rescue.
The Red Devils were granted nine minutes of additional time to try to find a leveller, but Newcastle stood firm to leapfrog their visitors into fifth spot in the table, bumping Ten Hag’s men down to seventh in the process.
Newcastle have four full days to rest up before a trip to Everton on Thursday, while Man United will return to their Old Trafford headquarters to meet Chelsea on Wednesday.
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