Portugal visits Czechs needing win in Nations League

·2 min read

PRAGUE (AP) — Portugal plays the Czech Republic in the Nations League on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo's team hoping to set up a showdown with Spain to decide who advances to the Final Four tournament.

Ronaldo, who will be looking to add to his international record of 117 goals, is one of seven Portugal players who are only one yellow card from a suspension that would rule them out of their final group game against Spain.

Spain leads Group A2 with eight points, one more than Portugal, with two games remaining. The Czechs are in third place with four points. Switzerland is last with three.

A victory in Prague would mean that Portugal — regardless of the Spain-Switzerland result on Saturday — has the chance to finish top when the Iberian neighbors meet in Braga on Tuesday.

But first Portugal must beat the Czechs for a second time after winning 2-0 in June. The Czechs have only one win in four group games.

“Since the beginning the goal has been to reach the final four,” Portugal midfielder Rúben Neves said.

Portugal was upset 1-0 in Geneva after Switzerland scored in the opening minute and held on the rest of the way. That was the only loss for Fernando Santos’ side in the tournament that also serves as preparation for the World Cup starting in November.

Portugal will be without suspended defender João Cançelo, while veteran central defender Pepe is injured.

“Pepe is extremely important, but we are lucky to have players with lots of talent,” Neves said.

The four group winners in the top tier advance to the Final Four tournament, scheduled for June 14-18. The teams finishing at the bottom of each group are relegated to League B.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press