Saturday's match in Cartagena is the third clash between the sides at the global U-20 showdown, and the South Americans will be hoping for a case of third time lucky, as Portugal are the only team with an undefeated record against the six-time world champions after winning both previous meetings in this category.
The Portuguese celebrated their first victory in 1991, with a team starring the young Luis Figo securing a 3-0 victory against their South American rivals. Argentina fans would rather not be reminded of the match against the eventual champions, as three of their players were shown red cards during the game.
Four years later, Dani scored the winning goal in Doha as the Portuguese won 1-0 at the group stage. Once again, one of the teams went on to claim the trophy, only this time it was Argentina.
Portugal have emerged as the tournament’s minimalists after reaching the quarter-finals with only three goals in total. Of the eight remaining teams at this FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Europeans have scored the fewest goals, winning all their games 1-0 with the exception of the opening match.
By comparison, Nigeria are already up to 13 goals, more than four times as many as Portugal. Pacos Ferreira forward Nelson Oliviera is the man of the tournament for the Portuguese so far after contributing two of their three goals, with the third coming from defender Marion Rui. However, coach Ilidio Vale is without both Rui and striker Alex against the South Americans, as both players are suspended after collecting second yellow cards.
Argentina have been more expansive and convincing in Colombia thus far. The South Americans finished the preliminary stage as comfortable group winners with seven points, and have wowed the crowds with some skilful football on the way. Shooting star Erik Lamela has been in scintillating form, and scored twice in the Round of 16 victory over Egypt. However, the playmaker is rated doubtful for Saturday after limping out of the clash with the North Africans with seven minutes to play. Boss Walter Perazzo and his staff will take a late decision on his fitness.
Of the players with two yellow cards to their names, Adrian Martinez is a definite non-starter with suspension, but Roberto Pereya is set to return after serving out his ban.
405 – Portugal’s Mika is the only keeper in Columbia yet to retrieve the ball from the back of his net. If you include previous tournaments, the Portuguese have now gone 405 minutes without a conceding a goal at a FIFA U-20 World Cup. The last player to pierce the Portuguese rearguard was Arturo Vidal in Chile's 1-0 victory at Canada 2007.
“I respect Argentina, but we're not afraid of anyone at this tournament. We're ready to keep playing and to make the next round. But we also need to improve and stop making mistakes,“ Portugal coach Ilidio Vale