Kamis, 11 Oktober 2012

Russia - Portugal Preview: Group F's heavyweights clash in Moscow

Fabio Capello

October 13 2004 is a date that the hosts will not forget in a hurry having suffered an ignominious 7-1 defeat at the hands of opponents Portugal. And while it is very unlikely for this score line to be repeated in Moscow on Friday, Fabio Capello's men will be determined to ensure they pick up what could eventually turn out to be three valuable points.

Both sides head into this clash with both with a 100 per cent record and seem, out of the rest of Group F, most likely to qualify, putting more pressure on results against each other for that automatic place in Brazil 2014.

Paul Bento's charges will be buoyed by the news that Cristiano Ronaldo has made a full recovery from his sprained shoulder he suffered in El Clasico last Sunday and should be fit to start against the hosts, but the visitors are sweating over the fitness of Pepe who admitted that he was a doubt.

Meanwhile, Capello has again left Arsenal winger Andrey Arsh avin and Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak out of the squad for his team's clashes against the Seleccao and Azerbaijan this month.

The Italian coach may be struggling to adapt to the culture change in Russia but on the field he is having much more success having started his World Cup qualifying campaign impressively with his side having yet to concede a goal in Group F, beating Northern Ireland 2-0 and Israel 4-0.

Their opponents Portugal meanwhile, only did enough to beat Luxembourg 2-1 away but had a much more convincing 3-0 win at home against Azerbaijan.

  • Russia's last victory against the Portuguese was also their biggest having beat the Seleccao 5-0 back in 1983.
  • Fabio Capello's men are ranked 12th in the world while their opponents are third behind Germany and world and European champions Spain.
  • Russia have never lost to Portugal at home, winning in 1983 and drawing in 2005.
  • Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, right) scored a double as they inflicted on Russia their heaviest defeat ever back in 2004.
  • The Seleccao are undefeated in their last three fixtures against the Russians.
  • Paulo Bento has been in charge of Portugal since 2010, winning 15 of his 24 games in charge, with four draws and four losses.

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