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FIFA Confederations Cup

Preview: New Zealand-Portugal

  • *Portugal a point away from last four, All Whites bound for home *
  • Ronaldo set for a rest as Santos prepares to shuffle his pack
  • *Kiwis look to build on spirited showing against Mexico *

With one foot already in the semi-finals, Portugal will look to make sure of their spot when they take on already-eliminated New Zealand in Saint Petersburg on Saturday. The All Whites, for their part, are still chasing an elusive first win at a senior FIFA tournament and will be out to show the same determination and intensity that was on display in their last outing.

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Brendon Hanley with New Zealand

New Zealand will be looking to replicate their fine performance in that 2-1 defeat to Mexico against the talent-laden Portuguese. Anthony Hudson stuck to his beliefs and played an attacking, pressing style against El Tri, so expect more of the same against the European champions. Again, the key players in his 5-3-2 will be the wing-backs, each of whom will face the test of their lives.

*Marco Monteiro with Portugal
*With only a draw necessary to progress to the semi-finals, Fernando Santos has the luxury of being able to rest key players against New Zealand. The Portugal coach will not, however, underestimate the Kiwis. Expect a defensive start to the match, with the Portuguese eventually using their individual talent and speed to pick off the All Whites. Bernardo Silva will no doubt be allowed to roam once again, but it is very likely Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested. 

What you need to know

1 Having ended their mammoth 555-minute Confederations Cup scoring drought on Wedneday, New Zealand should have gone on to score two or three more. With Portugal having tightened up their defence after a shaky opening-match display against Mexico, it will be intriguing to see if the adventurous All Whites can continue to carve out as many opportunities. If they do, they will need to be a lot more clinical to avoid a repeat of their Sochi heartbreak.

2 If Ronaldo is indeed rested, New Zealand are sure to breathe a massive sigh of relief. After all, even by his own ridiculous standards, the Portugal captain is enjoying a spectacular run of scoring form, having found the the net 15 times in his last nine appearances for club and country. Others will need to step up in his expected absence, with Andre Silva perhaps the most likely alternative source of goals.

3 New Zealand's Dane Ingham, 18, is Russia 2017's youngest player and became the second-youngest in Confederations Cup history - behind team-mate Chris Wood - when he started against Mexico. Not that you would have guessed it from the mature and assured performance the right-back produced. Expect to see more of Ingham at this and future FIFA tournaments as Hudson continues to shape a new-look side.

*Possible line-ups  *New Zealand: Stefan Marinovic; Tom Doyle, Tommy Smith, Andrew Durante, Michael Boxall, Kip Colvey; Ryan Thomas, Bill Tuiloma, Clayton Lewis; Chris Wood, Marco Rojas

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Nelson Semedo, Luis Neto, Jose Fonte, Eliseu; Andre Gomes, Danilo, Adrien Silva, Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva; Nani 

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