WORLD CUP PREVIEW

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

WORLD CUP PREVIEW Thurs: Portugal v Ghana

Portugal and Ghana begin their campaigns in a fascinating Group H fixture.

Portugal’s World Cup record is poor – they’ve won just three games across the last three tournaments since finishing fourth all the way back in 2016 – but the Euro 2016 winners have reasons to be hopeful about making a strong challenge in Qatar.

They had to negotiate play-offs after losing to Serbia (who are not to be underestimated) but they were far too good for Turkey (3-1 winners) and North Macedonia (2-0) and they performed with credit in a tough Nations League section which included Spain and Switzerland.

Fernando Santos’s side is packed with top quality talent from top to bottom. Manchester City’s Reuben Dias compliments the experienced and no-nonsense Pepe at the heart of their defence, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva combine in midfield Infront of Reuben Neves, and the hotshot pairing of Joao Felix and Rafael Leao give them width, pace and two finishers to back up Cristiano Ronaldo.

Unhappy with a lack of playing time at Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo has made off field headlines with his recent interview but the national side (for whom he has 117 goals) should be a happier place for him even if his powers may be on the wane at nearly 38.

A criticism launched at Portugal – who boast one of the most talented sides in Qatar – is that they are too conservative under their current management, although they were the top scorers in their Nations League group and managed only one goal less than Serbia in qualifying.

Portugal v Ghana
FIFA World Cup 2022 Group H
16:00 ITV1 / STV / ITVX / STV Player

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD-TO-HEAD
JUN 2014 WORLD CUP Portugal 2-1 Ghana

PORTUGAL
JUN 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic
JUN 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE Switzerland 1-0 Portugal
SEP 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE Czech Republic 0-4 Portugal
SEP 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE Portugal 0-1 Spain
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY Portugal 4-0 Nigeria

GHANA
AUG 2022 AFRICAN NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP Ghana 2-0 Nigeria
SEP 2022 AFRICAN NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP Nigeria 2-0 Ghana
SEP 2022 FRIENDLY Brazil 0-3 Ghana
SEP 2022 FRIENDLY Nicaragua 0-1 Ghana
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY Ghana 2-0 Switzerland

At the beginning of the year, when they were knocked out of the African Cup of Nations by Comoros, qualification looked a pipe-dream for Ghana. However, the Black Stars have undergone a transformation since then, with Otto Addo taking over as head coach and former Brighton manager Chris Hughton joining as technical advisor.

After topping Group G in the second round of qualifying, they edged out rivals Nigerian a dramatic play-off on away goals thanks to a Thomas Partey strike. Hughton and Addo have undertaken a rebuilding job, with several players declaring allegiance for Ghana including Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao headlines that list, with Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, and Hamburg’s Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer also on board.

Their presence significantly enhances the quality of a squad that’s powered by Thomas Partey – enjoying a brilliant season with Arsenal – whilst Mohammed Kudus has exploded into form at Ajax, and youngster Abdul Fatawu Issahaku has broken through into the first team at Sporting Lisbon.

Add the experience of the Ayew brothers, and a couple more exciting youngsters, and we can expect a very different team to the side that couldn’t make it to the latter stages of this year’s AFCON.

It’s hard to know how Ghana will fare here – they have equipped with far more talent now than in January across all areas of the pitch – but they’ve seen very big changes in a short space of time and that may disadvantage them against a very settled Portugal outfit.

Fernando Santos’s side have a disappointing World Cup record in recent times, but their Nations League form was strong, and they look rightful favourites here with starsports.bet against a Ghana side with plenty of talent but little match practice with their current squad. The Black Stars can land a blow with their new attacking additions however, and this could be a reasonably open game. 13/10 about Portugal and over 2.5 goals could be the way to go.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI


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BACK Portugal to win and Over 2.5 Goals 1pt at 13/10 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (WORLD CUP 2022): LOSS 5.66 points (after matches on Wed 23 Nov)
(Will include returns from both the OUTRIGHT and SPECIALS previews too)


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