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Portugal vs Iceland – Match Preview

Portugal will go into this tournament looking to improve on a miserable 2014 World Cup in which they failed to get out of the group stage. It’s the European Championships where they have slightly better luck but still failed to land a first ever major tournament success

It’s arguably the only thing missing from Cristiano Ronaldo’s trophy haul and success at this level would give him a legitimate claim to being once and for all the world’s best player ever but until that trophy is won he will still sit in that bracket just below players such as Pele and Maradona

It was heartbreak for him in 2004 as Portugual lost as hosts to Greece in the Final and he didn’t even get to take a Penalty back in 2012 when they were they dumped out by neighbours Spain at the Semi Final stage of the competition

They come into this tournament off the back of a 7-0 thumping of Estonia and a comfortable 3-0 win against Norway but also a 1-0 defeat to England at Wembley. That sort of gives an idea of where Portugal are, comfortably beating teams below them but struggling with teams at the same level or above

That said there were without Ronaldo for the defeat to England so it would have been interesting to see how they would have fared with the Real Madrid forward but then you have to ask yourself just how much can one man carry a team. Perhaps in Ronaldo’s case it’s quite a lot

In Midfield there is Bayern Munich new boy Renato Sanches ready to be unleashed on the footballing world stage while Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho will bring a balance of flair and guile to the centre of the pack

Ronaldo will be assisted in attack by fomer Manchester United teammate Nani and also Besiktas Ricardo Quaresma. Quaresma looked particularly impressive in the win over Estonia but again it’s impressing when it really matters that will be the difference for Portugal

As for their opponents Iceland they arrive in France ready for their first ever major tournament appearance. An impressive qualifying campaign saw them come out of a group which also included Czech Republic, Turkey and Holland

Swansea Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson will undoubtedly be the key man for Iceland he’ll look to get forward as much as possible and with his set piece ability there is always a goal threat. Expect him to also lay on chances for Alfred Finnbogason just as much

Also not forgetting Eidur Gudjohnsen he must have felt that his chance of playing in a major tournament has passed him by it seems as if this generation of players just matured enough in time to make Gudjohnsen’s dream a reality

For many Iceland will be their second team as this footballing minnow finally comes of age. Portugal will bring a real test but this will be a marker of how far Iceland have really come, can they keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet tonight

They will have their work cut out and you would have to make Portugal favourites going into the game but I think it’s fair to say that everyone outside of Portugal will be hoping that Iceland continue the fairytale and cap their major tournament debut with a win. Head says Portugal, heart says Iceland

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