England picks to excel against Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo rested
Holly Thackeray | June 1, 2016
England v Portugal
- International friendly
- Thursday, June 2nd
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
- Wembley Stadium, London
- Live on ITV1
Hodgson’s Euro selections to steer England past Navigators
Ambitious Euro 2016 hopefuls England’s final friendly fixture ahead of France could not be more fitting, as the Three Lions prepare for a feisty fray with Portugal – the team that famously knocked the Three Lions out of successive European Championship and World Cup quarter-finals before in 2004 and 2006.
Roy Hodgson’s in-form England enter this duel as 6/5 favourites to win at Wembley despite their past pain against the Portuguese, who will be without rested skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, the then young-gun that famously inflamed tensions in 2006, when Wayne Rooney saw red in the World Cup.
Though, it is worth remembering that 10 of the 22 previous tussles between these two teams have ended evenly, with the last four in particular all drawn in normal time, meaning another splitting of spoils could be on the cards with Coral odds of 21/10 for that to occur.
As the Navigators are without their star man, and have previously won just three contests with the Three Lions in 90 minutes, the Iberian outfit rank as 12/5 outsiders to dent England’s confidence.
Though, since previous dust-ups have been fairly tight, England are enticing at 17/4 for victory with both teams to bag after the Three Lions leaked in all their last four games, or a 19/5 price to draw at half-time but win at the final whistle.
Hodgson has already announced his final Euro squad, with Danny Drinkwater and Andros Townsend rather controversially cut alongside injured Fabian Delph, leaving the likes of Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson with a lot to prove after long lay-offs.
Rashford to reward Roy’s roster faith?
A surprise inclusion in the squad was Manchester United striking starlet Marcus Rashford, who journeys to France alongside, as opposed to instead of, Liverpool injury doubt Daniel Sturridge.
Continuing his habit of dispatching on debuts, Red Devils dangerman Rashford nabbed an incredible opener against Australia but may not start this time, with Jamie Vardy (11/2 to fire in first) back from wedding duties and Sturridge said to be training. Instead, why not opt for the pacy poaching prodigy at 6/4 to strike anytime?
While, captain Wayne Rooney was rested last time out, arriving to score a spectacular goal as a substitute against the Socceroos and is also a 6/4 anytime shout, with most formidable Three Lions hitman Harry Kane 5/1 for the final say.
Portugal support acts given chance to shine
For Portugal, there is one more warm-up match to go after England, against Estonia, but they will surely bring out the big-guns for Wembley pride.
Ronaldo is rested, as is fellow Real Madrid man Pepe after their Champions League triumph, though both could be blessings in disguise as it gives young Portuguese proteges another shot to impress out of their superstar shadows, following the 3-0 thrashing of Norway.
Speaking of Ronaldo’s absence, Navigators coach Fernando Santos said: “I’m absolutely not worried about Cristiano. He will be here next weekend with his team-mates with a strong desire to help the team.
“I do not know why we are always talking about Ronaldo, or why people say we are dependent on Ronaldo. Everyone recognises that he is an important part of this team, but Portugal has to believe it can win without him.”
Whether Portugal can prove that remains to be seen, but there should be plenty of talent on show in the English capital clash. Experienced pair Ricardo Quaresma (6/1) and Eder Antonio Macedo Lopes (7/2) were two of the three players on target versus Norway, but it is the more youthful prospects that intrigue.
Braga wonder boy Rafa Silva should feature more this time and is a tempting 10/4 chance, alongside Valencia’s Andre Gomes (7/1), who has been linked to a transfer tug-of-war between compatriot coach Jose Mourinho at Manchester United and Massimiliano Allegri of Italian giants Juventus. These are certainly two names to watch out for aside from the English talent that should be on show.
Keep up to date with our dedicated Euro 2016 page, as well as in our England and Portugal archives.
Coral’s top tip: England are tasty at 17/4 to triumph and both teams score.