“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
Ireland will take on Portugal on Thursday night, where Stephen Kenny’s side will hope to keep their good form going, after recent wins against Qatar and Azerbaijan.
Ireland can no longer qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but the game has a lot more significance for Portugal, who are not yet qualified for the tournament.
As it stands, Serbia are top of the group, though they have played a game more than Portugal. They then play each other on Sunday, days after Portugal’s trip to Dublin.
Portugal team news for game vs Ireland
Portugal know that a result against Serbia is going to be far more difficult for them to achieve, but even more important than beating Ireland. If Portugal draw with Ireland on Thursday, they will still need a point against Serbia, and this won’t change if they beat Ireland.
On top of that, João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, João Palhinha, Renato Sanches and Diogo Jota are all one yellow card away from being suspended, so if they were to play and be booked, they’d miss the crucial Serbia match.
🟨 | João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, João Palhinha, Renato Sanches and Diogo Jota are all one yellow card away from missing the decisive last group match with Serbia.
Portugal play Ireland on Thursday before the showdown with Serbia on Sunday.
— Próxima Jornada (@ProximaJornada1) November 9, 2021
Bernardo Silva is also expected to miss the Ireland game entirely, as he sat out Tuesday morning’s training session with an injury. This is good news for Ireland fans, as he is in excellent form for Manchester City, and could do real damage to this Irish team.
While Cristiano Ronaldo is certainly fit (and in fine form), he has played an awful lot of football for Manchester United as of late, and will definitely want to be fully ready to go against Serbia.
So there is a chance we’ll see a slightly weakened team put out to face Ireland, though it will still undeniably be one filled with quality.
Ireland squad vs Portugal
On the other hand, Kenny can boast a fit and healthy squad to face Portugal, and will almost definitely play his strongest XI in front of the packed Aviva Stadium.
There are no major injury concerns going into the game from an Irish perspective, with Seamus Coleman back in the squad, and Alan Browne back from suspension.
Here is the team we feel Kenny could go for on Thursday night.