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Poland v Portugal – team news & preview

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Poland beat Switzerland in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to reach the quarter-finals of a European Championship for the first time

BBC coverage

How to follow:
Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website

TEAM NEWS

Poland have midfielder Bartosz Kapustka available again after he missed the Switzerland match through suspension.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is again unlikely to feature as he says is still struggling with a thigh injury.

Portugal will assess midfielders Raphael Guerreiro and Andre Gomes, who are nursing minor muscle problems.

If the pair are declared fit then coach Fernando Santos could have all 23 players available for Thursday’s game in Marseille.

William Carvalho, Pepe and Ricardo Quaresma are a booking away from missing a potential semi-final.

The same applies to Poland’s Kamil Grosicki, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Krzysztof Maczynski, Michal Pazdan, Slawomir Peszko and Lukasz Piszczek.

MATCH PREVIEW

Having watched Lionel Messi once again fall short in a major tournament, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo knows this tournament could be his best chance of landing international silverware – and striking a significant blow over his big rival in their personal battle to be lauded as the greatest player of their generation.

If Portugal lose to Poland, who knows whether Ronaldo would announce his international retirement, as Messi did after Argentina’s defeat on penalties in the Copa America final this week.

But elimination would certainly be a crushing blow given Portugal are in the so called ‘easy side’ of the draw and, at 31, it may be his last realistic opportunity with his country.

However, opponents Poland have been far from easy to play against so far. They had never won a game at a European Championship finals before this year, but are now just one match away from matching their best-ever performance at a major tournament (they were semi-finalists at the 1982 World Cup).

Their defence has been particularly impressive and it took an astonishing goal from Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri to breach a defensive unit that had previously not conceded. It was only the third time they had let in a goal in 2016.

What they do need to improve on is their prowess up the other end of the pitch. They have scored two goals fewer than any of the other quarter-finalists and the goal drought of captain Robert Lewandowski, who top scored in qualifying with 13, showed no sign of ending against the Swiss.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • This will be Poland and Portugal’s third encounter at a major tournament. Poland won 1-0 at the 1986 World Cup and then Portugal enjoyed a 4-0 victory at the 2002 World Cup.
  • Poland are unbeaten in their past three matches with Portugal (W1, D2).
  • Their last meeting was a 0-0 draw in Warsaw in February 2012.

Poland

  • The only previous time they reached the semi-finals of a major tournament was at the 1982 World Cup.
  • Poland’s last win in the knockout stages of a major tournament (excluding the penalty shoot-out victory against Switzerland) was in 1982 against France (a 3-2 win in the third-place play-off).
  • Poland are the lowest scoring side to have made it to the quarter-finals (three goals in four games).
  • They have yet to be behind at any point in a game at this year’s European Championship. They’ve only conceded one goal so far in four games.
  • They have never scored more than one goal in a single game at a Euros in 10 matches.
  • Poland have won both of their games in Marseille without conceding – a 1-0 victory against Ukraine at these finals was preceded by a 4-0 friendly success against the UAE in 1990.
  • Jakub Blaszczykowski has been directly involved in all five of Poland’s goals in the past two Euro tournaments (three goals, two assists).

Portugal

  • Portugal are the only team to have reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships in every tournament since 1996.
  • They have the chance to reach the semi-finals for the fifth time in seven European Championship finals.
  • Portugal have played the most games (32) in the history of the European Championships without ever winning the tournament.
  • They are unbeaten in their 11 competitive fixtures under Fernando Santos (W8, D3). All eight of their wins in that run have been by a single-goal margin (including the win against Croatia).
  • Portugal have picked up the fewest cards at Euro 2016 among the teams to have made it to the quarter-finals (three in four games).
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has played in more games than any other player at European Championship finals. He’s only one goal short of Michel Platini’s record of nine goals in the competition.
  • Ronaldo has only scored two goals in 12 knockout games at major tournaments.
  • Ronaldo has attempted 40 direct free-kicks at major tournaments with Portugal but is yet to score with any of these efforts.

Source: BBC Football Read Original Article: Poland v Portugal – team news & preview

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