Euro 2016 is just eight days away, and teams are gearing up for it by playing some international friendlies to remain in perfect shape when the mega event starts from June 10. England will play their last friendly game against a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal at the iconic Wembley stadium on Thursday.
England have announced their final squad that will head to France. England manager Roy Hodgson, after having picked a strong 23-member squad, will hope his players will bring glory to the nation. England emerged victorious in their last two friendlies, against Australia and Turkey, with a similar 2-1 score line.
England will be keen to defeat Portugal three impressive wins under their belt. With such a record, they could go into Euro 2016 as one of the serious contenders.
To be fair, they have a good chance with some in-form players like Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane in their squad. However, the formation Hodgson will adopt in France remains to be seen. The manager might be looking at various options, hence they match could play an important role in determining his first XI against Russia in Euro 2016.
They also have an array of attacking options with Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford on the bench. So, England are expected to play an attacking game, but Hodgson also stressed the importance of good defending.
"Now we have a surfeit of attacking players, in midfield and up front, which is why I've chosen a squad that's tipped and balanced towards attacking rather than defending. We believe that we have so many players at the moment in midfield and in attack, who are really good players, good quality players," the Evening Standard quoted Hodgson as saying.
"It's a question of athleticism, mobility. We have to defend as a team, defending from the front rather than just relying on the back four and goalkeeper."
Portugal, on the other hand, reached Euro 2016 by topping Group I, and have been pitted against Austria, Hungary and Iceland. Portugal should progress from the group, and will hope to defeat England on Thursday, as it can play an important role in increasing their confidence ahead of Euro 2016. But they have do it without Ronaldo, who has been given time off after the Champions League final.
Portugal have been dubbed a "one-man-team," with the Real Madrid star playing an important role in most of the matches. Portugal managed to defeat Norway in their last fixture 3-0 without Ronaldo, but facing the formidable English is a different matter altogether.
However, such matches give Portugal coach Fernando Santos an opportunity to look at how his team can fare without Ronaldo in big games.
"Cristiano is very important for Portugal but he would be for any other team in the world. This game is a good opportunity to prepare my team to play without him. I hope he can play seven games in France but we need to know how to play without him. That's why this game is important, to play without him," the Daily Mail quoted Santos as saying.
Santos is well aware of the tough England team, but the manager just has one ambition â€” to defeat the Three Lions at Wembley.
"England have a big ambition and they are going to France, they can compete with any other team, they are one of the favourites and they can win the Euro for sure. They have dangerous players like (Wayne) Rooney and Harry Kane in their attack but we are not testing our defence here. We are here to play our game and try to win," Santos said.
Where to watch live
England vs Portugal is scheduled to kick off Wembley at 7:45 p.m. BST (12:15 a.m. IST, 2:45 p.m. EST). In India, viewers can catch the game on Sony ESPN.
In the UK and Ireland, viewers can catch the game on ITV / ITV HD. The radio commentary will be available on BBC Radio 5 Live.
In the US, viewers can catch the game on Fox Sports 1 USA and Fox Deportes. Online streaming will be available on Fox Sports Go.
In Australia, the game will be broadcast on beIN Sports. Online streaming is available on beIN Sports Connect.
Portugal fans can watch the game on TVI.