The European Champions have been on cruise control so far in Russia, but Portugal will need to rely on more than a gear called Cristiano Ronaldo if they are to book a spot in the final. 

The story so far

It was a stumbling start from the Portuguese as they twice surrendered leads against a stubborn Mexico side to draw 2-2 in their opening game. 

Portugal then almost repeated the same mistakes as they barely held on for a 1-0 win against Russia. An early header from Ronaldo was all that separated the two sides with the host nation unlucky not to salvage a late draw late against a nervy Portuguese defence.

Those nerves seemed to linger a little bit as Portugal battled New Zealand in their final group game. After a tight tussle in the opening half hour, Ronaldo would clinically convert a penalty and dispel any doubts of an upset as his side strolled away to a 4-0 win. 

It hasn’t always been convincing from Portugal as they once again lean on an ever-reliable Ronaldo. They enter the semi-finals with some confidence having not conceded a goal in over 180 minutes while over the same time scoring five goals.

They’ll beat Chile because…

I genuinely hate to say it, but Ronaldo. His ability to step up at the right moment is unmatched in football at the moment, and if this one goes to extra time or penalties, you can bank on the number 7 delivering.

But even Ronaldo can only do so much and it’s important to note the wealth of talent Portugal have, particularly in midfield. Bernardo and Andre Silva have been constant sparks for their side and even Arturo Vidal will have a tough time keeping them quiet. 

They’ll be knocked out by Chile because…

Defensively and physically Portugal will likely struggle.

To date, despite two consecutive clean sheets, they’ve looked weak at the back with only poor finishing keeping their opposition goalless. Chile won’t be so wasteful with a clinical strike force likely to make the most of any scraps Portugal offer up.

Reliant more on speed and skill, the Portuguese will face a real test if, or rather when, Chile inevitably decide to get physical.  The South Americans have got a real presence about them and if they go about it the right way could legally shut Portugal out of the contest.

Will they win the Confederations Cup?

From what I’ve seen to date, it’s hard to make a judgement on Portugal’s Cup credentials. Their last two games were always ones they should’ve won with this clash against Chile a much better indicator of where they’re at. 

If they can outclass Chile however, I’d back them to take home the trophy. In the final they’d either play a young German squad who could stutter on the big occasion or a Mexican side they really should have beat in their opening game.

Best moment of the tournament so far

Andre Silva’s strike against New Zealand was a piece of individual brilliance that put the game to bed. His silky, surging run forward and fine finish showing just how dangerous Portugal are in the final third. 

Key player

It goes without saying Ronaldo is a key player for Portugal. But with the Real Madrid star playing higher up the pitch, his side are actually far more reliant on the men in midfield with Bernardo Silva likely to be the key to unlocking the Chile defence. The new Manchester City signing has shown so far this tournament his ability to pick out a pass, push his side forward and just generally beat his man. If he can get the best of Vidal on the night, back Portugal to get the job done. 

Injuries/Suspensions

Centre back Pepe is a big loss after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against New Zealand, while Raphael Guerreiro is out through injury. Incidentally, despite the pivotal role he may place, Silva could also be in doubt after picking up an ankle injury.

Prediction

A very tough game to pick but with the world’s best player in their mix, Portugal should be able to claim a 2-1 win over what’s been a less than convincing Chile side to date.

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A football fanatic and journalism student who won't leave you wondering about any Wanderers news this season as I cover all things Red and Black for The Football Sack.