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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Hosts Russia to be outclassed by Portugal

Ronaldo can be the difference in Confederations Cup

Fedor Smolov scored during Russia's win over New Zealand
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Confederations Cup Group A
ITV4, 4pm Wednesday

Russia made a winning start to their Confederations Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand but they face a major step up in class against Portugal in Moscow.

Not much was expected of Stanislav Cherchesov's squad coming into the tournament with a number of key players unavailable and little should be read into Saturday's success over limited opponents.

Fyodor Smolov did at least score as he carried his domestic form into the international arena but Russia are missing injured influential pair Alan Dzagoev and Artem Dzyuba, while the defence features plenty of unproven performers.

Five of the eight players listed as defenders have fewer than ten caps, while experienced right wing-back Aleksandr Samedov is expected to miss this clash because of a knock.

Portugal are likely to rotate their squad following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Mexico, although that will delight those observers who are frustrated by Fernando Santos and his usually conservative team selection.

Players such as Benfica's Nelson Semedo, Manchester City's new boy Bernardo Silva and recent Milan recruit Andre Silva were held back by Santos, who stuck by the likes of Nani after the veterans played their part in winning Euro 2016.

However, the time has come for a freshen up and Cristiano Ronaldo has already struck up a sweet relationship with Andre Silva in their brief appearances together during World Cup qualifying.

With unhappy Ronaldo having a point to prove to any potential suitors should he leave Real Madrid and the youngsters being given their chance, it could be argued this is a potentially much more exciting and hungry starting 11 from last time out.

Goals are not a problem - Portugal have scored 30 in their last eight matches, and that sort of firepower could be too much for Russia to handle.

1pt Evs general

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Team news
Aleksandr Samedov is doubtful with Igor Smolnikov his most likely replacement.

Fernando Santos is expected to rotate his squad.

Key stat
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 12 goals in his last nine games for club and country.

Portugal are likely to rotate their squad following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Mexico, although that will delight most observers
E.W. Terms
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