Defending World Cup champions Portugal will play their opening match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar against Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha. The home team defeated Nigeria 4-0 in their last warm-up match. Portugal will look to continue their strong form against a Ghana side that is coming off a thrashing from Africa Cup of Nations.
Portugal have no shortage of forward talent. Despite being without a few key players, including the legendary Diogo Jota, they have the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Rui Patricio, Bruno Fernandes, and Joao Cancelo. Several of these players are slated to play key roles. Ronaldo and Otavio are likely to start, along with Leao, while Diogo Costa and William Carvalho are likely to provide additional depth.
Portugal’s back-line is solid. They have players like Ruben Dias, Diogo Costa, and Ruben Neves who will be tasked with keeping the ball out of the goal. But Portugal are likely to struggle in goalkeeping. That should be a concern for Santos. He has been under pressure lately after failing to qualify for the last-16 of the Euros last year.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be a World Cup legend when the tournament kicks off, is expected to play a major role in Portugal’s success in Qatar. He will look to make his last appearance at the tournament, and could potentially compete in the World Cup finale. Aside from his 117 goals in 189 appearances, Ronaldo also became the first male player to score in five World Cups. He will be 38 by the time the tournament rolls around, but he is still preparing for the global showpiece.
The Portugal side is likely to include players who have not yet made their senior national team debut. Jose Sa is a Wolves player, but he is yet to make his senior national team debut. In addition, Wolves’ Thomas Partey and Arsenal’s Matheus Nunes have both been signed. Andre Silva and Andre Ayew are also in the starting line-up.
Ghana have not made it past the quarter-finals of the World Cup since 2010. Ghana was dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations in January and they have struggled to produce consistent form. Their best result was a third-place finish in 1966. They have a number of exciting young talents.
Portugal, on the other hand, is arguably the strongest side in their group. They will look to take advantage of a Ghana side that is short on form and has a lot of inexperience on big stages. They should also be able to rely on their solid defensive record. However, Santos will have to deal with a number of fans who are worried about his focus on Cristiano Ronaldo. They will also have to deal with local media pressure.
Portugal are expected to win their group. They will then play Uruguay in their next game. The top two teams from each group will progress to the single-game knockout stage. If they are tied, other tiebreakers will be applied.