Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Portugal gears up for Russia

The Portuguese national soccer squad has had its final training session in its concentration in Óbidos. All twenty-five players are fit and ready to take on Russia in Friday's FIFA World Cup qualification game at 20.45 in Lisbon's Estádio da Luz, the home stadium of SL Benfica.

At the press conference before the training session, the Portuguese national team coach, Paulo Bento, declared that Portugal will have to play patiently against Russia, in a game in which Portugal "must play well and competitively". Paulo Bento stated that Portugal has paid a high price for the mistakes made in recent games and the objective now is to get to Brazil, whether in first place, or through the play-offs.

Paulo Bento also recognizes the "comfortable position" the Russian team enjoys coming into this game. Russia tops Group F with twelve points from four games, eight goals scored, none against, a goal difference of plus 8. Portugal is third on 11 points from six games (two games more) and a goal difference of plus 5. For this reason Paulo Bento expects Russia to play a holding game, forcing Portugal to move forward and then attack on the counter-attack. However, Paulo Bento aims to control the game.

Russia manager Fábio Capello, however, has his own problems - injuries to key players. Only one striker is fit in the original squad of 23 men - Aleksandr Kerzhakov, from Zenit Saint Petersburg, after Aleksandr Kokorin pulled out with an injury to the Achilles tendon and Artem Dzyuba was ruled out with muscular problems.

In the first game between the two sides in October, Russia beat Portugal 1-0 in Moscow.
 
Group F
1. Russia - 4 games - 4 wins 0 draws 0 defeats 8 goals scored 0 goals suffered 12 points
2. Israel - 6 games - 3 - 2 - 1 - 15 - 8 - plus 7 - 11 points
3. Portugal - 6 games - 3 - 2 - 1 - 11 - 6 - plus 5 - 11 points
4. Northern Ireland - 5 games - 0 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 7 - minus 4 - 3 points
5. Azerbaijan - 6 games - 0 - 3 - 3 - 2 - 8 - minus 6 - 3 points
6. Luxembourg - 5 games - 0 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 12 - minus 10 - 2


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
Pravda.Ru