Preview: Portugal vs. Czech Republic

One of the favourites for this summer’s European Championship will take to the field on Tuesday evening, with Portugal opening their Euro 2024 campaign against the Czech Republic at Leipzig Stadium.

Portugal are being tipped as challengers for the trophy in Germany, while the Czech Republic will be bidding to progress from a section which also includes Turkey and Georgia.

Match preview

Portugal famously triumphed at Euro 2016, and they have reached the semi-finals of this tournament on a further three occasions, but they were knocked out in the last-16 stage of Euro 2020.

The Iberian nation then reached the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, with Roberto Martinez taking charge soon after the competition, and there have been plenty of positive signs under the Spaniard.

France, England and Germany are considered to be the three favourites to win Euro 2024, but Portugal are also expected to be in the mix due to the talent and experience in their star-studded squad.

A Selecao das Quinas will enter their Group F opener off the back of a 3-0 success over Republic of Ireland in an international friendly, with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo coming up with a brace.

Portugal have actually lost two of their last four matches, but they are the heavy favourites to top this section, which also includes Turkey and Georgia, with definitely two but potentially three teams progressing.

Martinez’s side will face Turkey in their second match in Group F on June 22, before finishing their section against Georgia on June 26, with the knockout round of the competition beginning soon after.

Czech Republic, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia in their final warm-up fixture for the tournament on June 10.

Ivan Hasek’s team are on a run of five straight wins in all competitions, including their final Euro 2024 qualification match against Moldova last November, while they have since beaten Norway, Armenia, Malta and North Macedonia in friendly fixtures.

Czech Republic were runners-up at Euro 1996, while they made the semi-finals in 2004 and have reached the quarter-finals in two of their last three tournaments, including at Euro 2020.

Winners as Czechoslovakia in 1976, the national side are capable of making an impression this summer, with a solid qualification campaign for Euro 2024 seeing them pick up 15 points from their eight matches, finishing ahead of Poland in Group E.

Czech Republic have lost four of their previous five matches against Portugal, including a 4-0 defeat when the two countries last locked horns in the UEFA Nations League in September 2022.

Team News

Portugal head coach Martinez has a number of big decisions to make when it comes to his team selection on Tuesday due to the strength in depth that exists in the squad.

There will be some big players named on the bench, but Ronaldo, at the age of 39, is set to lead the line, with the forward bidding to add to the 130 goals that he has managed for his country.

Ronaldo is set to make history this summer, as he prepares to feature in his sixth European Championship, while he will be aiming to become the oldest player to score at the competition.

Pepe will be 41 years and 113 days old when his national side open their Euro 2024 campaign, and he is expected to feature in the middle of the defence to become the oldest player in the history of the tournament.

Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva could be given the nod alongside Ronaldo in the final third of the field, with Bruno Fernandes, Vitinha and Joao Palhinha operating in midfield.

As for Czech Republic, midfielder Michal Sadilek, who would have been a starter, was forced to pull out of the squad before the start of the tournament due to an injury which he suffered while riding a bike.

West Ham United duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek will be in the XI, while Jan Kutcha should feature in the final third of the field on Tuesday night.

Patrik Schick is comfortably the leading goalscorer in the squad with 19, and the 28-year-old will lead the line here, bidding to add to the five goals that he has managed at the competition.

Adam Hlozek has only managed two goals for his country, but the 21-year-old is also an option to feature in the final third of the field against Portugal.

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