Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal will kick off its 2022 FIFA World Cup by facing Ghana in the second match of Group H. The two sides have never clashed against each other before Qatar. Portugal while a regular attendee in the FIFA tournaments, has been unable to progress past the round of 16 since 2006.
Including the winter event in Qatar, Portugal has been at the FIFA tournaments eight times with their best finish being the 1966 edition, also their first time where they finished third.
Their first challenger in the ongoing quadrennial competition, Ghana has a rather lesser appearance in this competition. They debuted at the FIFA World Cup in 2006, the year Portugal finished fourth while Ghana reached the last 16. The African side then made two consecutive appearances at the tournament’s next two editions before failing to qualify for the third.
However, in terms of reaching the knockouts since 2006, Ghana might arguably be on par with the Iberian side; they reached the last eight in 2010 and made the round of 16 in 2006.
Speaking of their recent performances, Portugal has only lost three of their last ten matches with six wins and one draw. Relatively, Ghana’s last nine records consist of two losses, one draw, and also six wins. However, Portugal’s stats come with them having gone through top-tier nations in the FIFA ranking.
Explore further to know who really has the better chance of taking the three points between Portugal and Ghana from their first match of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Why Ghana Might Hold Portugal And Even Trouble Them Further?
Ghana is natural when it comes to giving tough tests to big contenders of the major international tournaments e.g. Uruguay in 2010, Germany in 2014, and the Czech Republic in 2006. And it is guaranteed they are going to frustrate Portugal in the same manner.
Ghana also has experienced players from the historic matches of the past world cups in addition to some persistent and sturdy young players with the likes of Tariq Lamptey, Mohammed Kudus, and Inaki Williams. The threat of Ayews brother in the front is as potent as it was in the previous tournaments. Giving further problems to Portuguese defenders will be Mohammed Kudus.
The Ajax midfielder has netted four goals and three assists this season in the UEFA Champions League group stage. He also has managed to score five in the Eredivise.
All in all, they have more than abundant quality players able to pull off at least a draw against the tournament’s so-called super teams. It’s the win that the African sides may come across as a bit more hesitant than their counterparts.
Portugal Might Win But Would It Be Convincing Victory?
On paper, looking at the difference in quality players that each team has, Portugal should rightly be the winner of this second game in Group H. However, the one thing that makes vulnerable this side among others is their manager, Fernando Santos’ approach which has been criticized for being mundane and old school.
He usually prefers to be more solid from mid to back and this oftentimes has failed to bring the best out of his world-class attacking lineup. Consequently, Portugal lately hasn’t been the team to finish their opponent with a big goal tally; the European Selecao has only seen less than three goals in five of their last seven outings.
Nonetheless, the point in Ghana where the Portuguese have the potential to capitalize is their recent forms. While they managed to beat Switzerland in a friendly just some days before their queue in Qatar, prior to that, the Black Stars had only won two of their last 12 matches against opponents within the FIFA 100 rank.
The lack of fluidity is apparent and has been more than feasible for their challengers to take advantage of. The durability, to hold off the big teams, has also lessened over the years. The not fully fit Arsenal’s Thomas Partey in the midfield is doubtful to be at his best and is close to certain to be subbed off around the half-hour mark. In the event that happens the midfield of Ghana is all for Portugal to exploit.
Portugal Vs Ghana Predictions By Numbers
In light of the presence of Cristiano followed by newly established talents, Jao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, and Jao Cancelo, among others, Portugal has been the most preferred team to clinch the victory against Ghana at 2/5 (1.40), courtesy of bet 365.
The African side on the other hand has 15/2 (8.50) odds to pull off another upset of this world cup. A draw which is backed at 15/4 (4.75), could make this group further exciting considering the other two teams are Uruguay and South Korea.
Even at the age of 37, Cristiano still is the most endorsed man from Portugal or even any team to open up the scoreline. For doing so, the now free agent has been given the odds of 3/1 (4.00).
The next probable scorer in Portugal vs Ghana is expected to be Ronaldo’s teammate, Bruno Fernandes at 13/2 (7.50) followed by Man City winger midfielder, Bernardo Silva at 8/1 (9.00).
Conversely, if Ghana is the one to break the deadlock, the projection has suggested Andre Ayew the most at 12/1 (13.00).
How The Match Will Progress Based On Both Teams Recent Performances? Our Prediction
Portugal looks very convincing to open up the score sheet as in their last eight matches, only twice were they chasing the ball to equalize the game. The first goal may just come from the South European nation but given that Ghana has clean sheets in seven of their last ten matches, it is likely to be a bit late, probably in the first few minutes of the second half.
The goal to break the deadlock is very likely to come via a counterattack and of course from the most probable team. After the first goal though, Portugal is expected to find themselves focusing more on the defense as Ghana seems less likely to sit just deep and make the counter from their own half. Also leaving Williams and Ayew of Ghana with fewer men at the back won’t be worth the risk for the Portuguese sides.
Having said the aforesaid scenarios, we are going with the conclusion of a 1-0 win to Portugal.
Ghana Possible Lineups
Ati Zigi; Lamptey, Amartey, Djiku, Baba; Partey, Abdul Samed; Sulemana, Kudus, J. Ayew; Williams
Portugal Possible Lineups
Diogo Costa; Cancelo, Dias, Pereira, Mendes; Neves, Carvalho; Silva, Fernandes, Leao; Ronaldo