England v Portugal – Wembley Stadium at 19:45 live on ITV
On Thursday evening, England take on Portugal in their final friendly before the start of Euro 2016.
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Roy Hodgson selected his 23-man squad on Wednesday afternoon, which included Marcus Rashford and left Danny Drinkwater and Andros Townsend disappointed. Fabian Delph was also ruled out with a groin injury.
Roy Hodgson’s side come into this game off the back of two 2-1 victories against Turkey and Australia in recent weeks and now face Portugal on home turf, having won 9 and lost just 1 of their last 10 home games. Of these 10 games, England have also kept 6 clean sheets despite looking nervy at the back at times and I have no doubt Portugal will give the likes of Chris Smalling and John Stones a test on Thursday.
Portugal will be without Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe however, as they have been given time off to recover from last weekend’s Champions League Final, whereby Ronaldo scored the winning penalty for Real Madrid in a shoot-out against rivals Atletico. Lille’s Eder is likely to start upfront for Portugal and scored in their 3-0 win against Norway in a friendly last weekend.
Portugal had an impressive qualifying campaign, winning 7 out of their 8 matches and coming top of their group, so this will no doubt be England’s toughest of their international friendlies. England have not faced Portugal since a heated World Cup quarter-final defeat in 2006, in which Wayne Rooney was sent off and Ronaldo scored the winning penalty in a shoot-out, after the match finished goalless.
Portugal have another friendly against Estonia before the tournament begins, but for England, this is their last chance to impress Hodgson in a bid to make the starting line-up for their 1st group game against Russia in Marseille.
In Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, Hodgson stated that Thursday’s starting line-up will not necessarily be the chosen line-up to start against Russia, but he did announce that Ryan Bertrand will miss this friendly due to a ‘minor’ injury.
Neither Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy played in England’s win over Australia and both these players are expected to feature in a bid to maintain their fitness levels. Daniel Sturridge is also set to be available after missing the previous 2 friendlies with a calf injury.
With both sides looking to impress their managers ahead of the tournament, I recommend backing over 2 goals at 1.88. I am expecting both teams to score and with Ronaldo and Pepe out, this gives some other Portuguese players a chance to shine in front of Fernando Santos. As for the final result, it is a tough one to call but I’d be tempted to back a scoring draw which can be backed at 5.00 with Bet365.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2 goals @ 1.88 with Pinnacle Sports
Prices correct at time of writing.