Portugal boss Santos worried by defensive record

By Sports Desk September 04, 2021

Portugal boss Fernando Santos is worried by the number of goals his side have conceded in recent games.

The Selecao claimed a 3-1 win over nine-man Qatar in Saturday's friendly to make it back-to-back victories since exiting Euro 2020 to Belgium at the last-16 stage.

Santos made 11 changes on the back of the late 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland and Portugal took time to get going against World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar.

However, quickfire goals from Andre Silva and debutant Otavio put Portugal in control at half-time, at which point Qatar were a player short after Meshaal Barsham was dismissed.

Portugal switched off in the second period and gave their opponents a route back into the game when Abdelkarim Hassan headed in unmarked.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty late on to seal the win for the 2016 European champions, but Santos was not entirely pleased with his much-changed side's performance.

"In the first 15 minutes, we were good in terms of our defensive organisation," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When Qatar were looking to attack from behind, we were good. We never let Qatar create, we stole a lot of balls and with clear situations of being able to score on the counter.

"But in ball circulation, we were very slow and a lot of passes went astray, which allowed Qatar to create two or three opportunities on the counter-attack. 

"They have very fast players up front. In the first 15 minutes, in terms of scoring opportunities, we ended up being equal. 

"After those 15 minutes, the possibility for them to counter-attack ended, the team began to circulate in a different way, creating situations with lots of security. 

"We pressed very well, made it 2-0 and it could have been more.

"We were still good in the first 10 minutes of the second half. But we disconnected a little and let the opponent pick up the ball and they scored, meaning we couldn't relax."

Portugal, who required a couple of late headers from Cristiano Ronaldo to overcome Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, have now conceded nine goals in their last five matches.

That follows on from a run of three games in a row without conceding earlier this year.

"A team that concedes nine goals in five games is worrying," Santos added. "There are things we have always done very well and one of them is defensive set-pieces.

"It was very rare for us to concede goals like that, but now we do. I've already alerted the players to that. Just this morning we spent time working on set-pieces."

Brazilian-born Otavio obtained Portuguese citizenship in March and marked his first appearance for the Selecao with a goal.

He scored from one of his two shots on target and also played a joint-high three key passes, which was matched by Fernandes despite the midfielder only playing 30 minutes.

Asked what he made of Otavio's display, Santos said: "He was part of the group of players that did well for 30 minutes."

Portugal switch focus back to their World Cup qualifying Group A campaign with a trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Related items

  • World Cup shocker as Sevilla winger suffers cruel injury blow and faces Qatar 2022 KO World Cup shocker as Sevilla winger suffers cruel injury blow and faces Qatar 2022 KO

    Jesus Manuel Corona saw his World Cup ambitions crushed on Thursday as the Sevilla winger suffered leg and ankle injuries that should keep him sidelined until early next year.

    The Mexico international was expected to play a key figure for his country at Qatar 2022, but that plan can seemingly now be shelved as he faces up to five months on the sidelines.

    Corona, often known by his nickname 'Tecatito', broke his left fibula and ruptured ankle ligaments in training with Sevilla.

    The club said in a statement that the injury occurred without any contact from a team-mate, adding that Corona was rushed to hospital for tests that revealed the devastating extent of his injuries.

    "Tecatito will be operated on this afternoon for the injury by Dr Najarro at the FREMAP hospital," Sevilla stated. "Initially, this type of injury requires a recovery of between four and five months."

    With the World Cup taking place in November and December, it appears inevitable that Corona will play no part.

    Mexico will face Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Poland in Group C at Qatar 2022.

    The Mexican Football Federation sent best wishes via the national team's Twitter account, wishing Corona "a lot of strength" and adding: "We know that you will give everything to come back and you will do it in the best way."

    Corona only joined Sevilla in January, moving to Spain after a successful six-and-a-half-year spell in Portugal with Porto.

  • Guardiola confirms Bernardo Silva will go to Barcelona, but only as a Man City player Guardiola confirms Bernardo Silva will go to Barcelona, but only as a Man City player

    Barcelona will have to switch their targets after Pep Guardiola appeared to close the door on Bernardo Silva leaving Manchester City.

    Playmaker Bernardo has been linked with Barcelona for much of the current transfer window, with Xavi looking to build a team capable of challenge for LaLiga and Champions League honours.

    However, former Barcelona head coach Guardiola has been insistent he wants the 28-year-old Portugal international to stay at City.

    On Thursday, Guardiola said Bernardo would be in Barcelona next week, but only on City duty as the clubs play a charity fundraising friendly at Camp Nou.

    The match will benefit research into motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    It is a condition suffered by former Barcelona goalkeeping coach Juan Carlos Unzue, as well as Stephen Darby, who is the husband of Steph Houghton, captain of Manchester City Women.

    Speaking on Catalunya Radio, City manager Guardiola told Unzue how he sees Bernardo's future.

    "On Wednesday you will see him play," Guardiola said. "Of course! And what is certain is that he will do it with us, City. Bernardo and 10 others will play."

    Bernardo has been with City for five years, winning four Premier League titles among a host of honours and establishing himself as a key cog in Guardiola's midfield.

    Guardiola said City welcomed the chance to raise money for a worthwhile cause next week.

    "It's a gift to return to the Camp Nou to play a solidarity game to fight against [MND]," he said, quoted widely in the Spanish press.

    Praising Unzue, Guardiola added: "Life has given him a punch, and he gets up every time. With his gestures and actions he helps many people."

  • Napoli bring in hot-shot Simeone from Hellas Verona Napoli bring in hot-shot Simeone from Hellas Verona

    Napoli have completed the signing of striker Giovanni Simeone from Hellas Verona.

    Simeone, who is a son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego, has joined Napoli on an initial loan with an obligation to buy if certain clauses are triggered.

    Napoli announced the signing on Thursday, with Simeone opting for the number 18 shirt.

    The 27-year-old has spent the past six seasons in Serie A with Genoa, Fiorentina, Cagliari and Verona, whom he only joined permanently in June after impressing on loan.

    He scored 17 goals in the Italian top flight last season – a tally bettered only by Lautaro Martinez (21), Dusan Vlahovic (24) and Ciro Immobile (27) – while assisting five more.

    Five-cap Argentina international Simeone's arrival at Napoli comes on the back of the club's record goalscorer Dries Mertens departing on a free transfer this window.

    Napoli have also waved goodbye to fellow regular goalscorer Lorenzo Insigne since the end of last season, as well as David Ospina, Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik.

    Luciano Spalletti's side are believed to be closing in on further deals for Giacomo Raspadori from Sassuolo and Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.