Portugal vs United States odds and betting statistics
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Portugal vs United States match preview
This isn’t a scenario the United States often face: there’s everything to play for going into the third match of a World Cup group stage.
In Group E’s opener, it was business as usual for USA, demolishing Vietnam 3-0, with Sophia Smith bagging a brace, before turning provider to tee-up captain Lindsey Horan to fire in a third.
However, in Thursday’s 2019 World Cup Final rematch against Netherlands, Vlatko Andonovski’s side certainly faced a stiffer examination.
In truth, the Dutch controlled the first half in Wellington, and deservedly led in the 17th minute, following a catalogue of minor errors by the American defence.
However, the U.S. were much better after the break, and avoided a first-ever World Cup group phase defeat, with Horan heading home an equaliser, connecting with Rose Lavelle’s inch-perfect corner.
So, the United States sit top of the group with four points on the board, but are not guaranteed a round of 16 place just yet.
That’s because Portugal are dreaming of usurping the U.S. to a top two finish, needing to cause a humungous shock in Auckland to achieve this, but it is still possible.
A Selecção are making their World Cup debut Down Under and their campaign got off to an inauspicious start, beaten 1-0 by Netherlands at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Nevertheless, Francisco Neto’s team bounced back in mid-week by easily beaten strugglers Vietnam in Hamilton.
Telma Encarnação broke the deadlock, connecting with Lúcia Alves’s cross, before Kika Nazareth burst in behind and slotted home a second shortly after.
2-0 it finished at Waikato Stadium but, if Portugal had been more clinical, it could’ve been five or six.
That is actually just their second-ever victory at a major tournament, having previously defeated Scotland at Euro 2017.
Assuming Holland beat Vietnam in Dunedin simultaneously, which is a pretty safe assumption, Portugal must win this one to sneak into the round of 16.
USA though also need to win if they want to cling onto top spot and, if both of the 2019 World Cup Finalists win, goal difference will decide who goes through in first and second.
Group E’s runners-up will take on Sweden on Sunday, while the group winners will face Italy, so taking top spot is undisputedly advantageous.
Will either team be satisfied come full time at Eden Park, or will the Dutch be the team celebrating this result?
Portugal team news
20 year old rising star Francisca Nazareth, known as Kika, was only on the bench for Portugal’s opener, but started against Vietnam, and repaid her managers faith with a goal.
Telma Encarnação led the line on Thursday, but Diana Silva is likely to return, alongside her namesake Jéssica Silva.
In general, having rotated against Vietnam, with this game in mind, Francisco Neto will, largely, revert to the XI that were beaten by Netherlands.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Morais; Borges, D Gomes, C Costa, Amado; F Pinto, D Silva, T Pinto; J Silva, Nazareth, D Silva.
United States teams news
Vlatko Andonovski meantime has named the exact same starting XI for both matches so far, making just one substitution against Holland.
This is just the second time USA have made one or fewer subs in a World Cup fixture, also doing so against Korea DPR in the opening match of the 2007 edition, that game also ending in a draw.
Rose Lavelle was that sole substitute, introduced at half time in place of Savannah DeMelo, having seen 30 minutes of action against Vietnam as she’s eased back following an injury.
So, Lavelle, who was excellent against the Dutch, could come into the XI this time, possibly featuring for an hour.
The other major talking point is the fact that Julie Ertz is being deployed at centre-back.
This means Andi Sullivan is the starting defensive midfielder, despite continued underwhelming performances, while Alana Cook, a more obvious choice at centre-back, is on the bench.
Andonovski isn’t likely to make sweeping changes, as much as the USWNT fans base would like to see it.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Naeher; Fox, Ertz, Girma, Dunn; Sullivan, Horan, Lavelle; Smith, Rodman, Morgan.