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We expected Italy in World Cup playoff


Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho has mentioned the facet anticipated to play Italy to say a spot on the 2022 World Cup.

Portugal, who overcame Turkey 3-1 on Thursday, as a substitute host North Macedonia in Tuesday’s playoff last at Porto’s Dragao stadium (live on ESPN+, 2.45pm ET) after the facet claimed a shock 1-0 win over the Euro 2020 champions.

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“Won’t lie to you: we were all expecting it was going to be Italy,” Moutinho advised a information convention.

“Football is different nowadays, every team can win at this level, doesn’t matter the names, numbers or stats. North Macedonia have an extraordinary core and will do their best to make our life miserable on Tuesday.”

Manchester City‘s Bernardo Silva mentioned that Portugal’s gamers really feel a collective duty to say a spot for the nation on the event in Qatar.

“The responsibility of being present at the World Cup means that, regardless of the opponent, we have this pressure,” Silva said.

“The pressure exists in that sense, and we accept it, and it would be the same against Italy, [North] Macedonia or anyone else. We are used to pressure at our clubs.”

Euro 2016 winners Portugal have certified for the final 5 World Cup finals whereas North Macedonia’s first main event of their 27-year historical past was final 12 months’s Euro 2020.

Even so, Silva expects North Macedonia to be an unlimited problem.

“Of course, having players with experience in decisive games helps,” the Manchester City midfielder mentioned. “But the fact that they haven’t played as many games like these also makes their motivation levels higher.”

North Macedonia have already demonstrated they’re harmful when enjoying away from house.

The staff ended Germany‘s unbeaten 20-year house run in World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 win final 12 months and in addition eradicated Euro 2020 holders Italy on Thursday.

“North Macedonia have won four of their last five away games, two of them against two of the best teams in the world [Germany and Italy],” Silva mentioned.

“Let’s do our homework, see what the coach’s plan is and try to follow it in the best way, knowing that teams are different and will demand for different things.”

Portugal boasts a robust attacking line led by Manchester United‘s Cristiano Ronaldo whereas in opposition to Italy, North Macedonia had solely two photographs on objective, together with Aleksandar Trajkovski‘s 92nd minute winner.

“We are a team that creates many chances,” Silva mentioned. “We also know that we need to control the counterattacks, and the best way to do that is by moving the ball well.

“We all know that in the event that they’ve come this far it is as a result of they should be right here. Simply as they’d the flexibility to beat Germany and Italy, it reveals that they’re defensively robust, even with these statistics [few chances]. We all know that we now have a tough activity forward of us, however we’ll do our greatest to beat an opponent that we all know will create some difficulties.

“It’s 90 minutes, anything can happen, and we’re sure it will be very difficult.

“We have to go to the sport with the identical concept and all rowing in the identical route. I am certain issues will go effectively.”

Portugal have received good news ahead of the encounter with veteran defender Pepe becoming a member of the staff in coaching on Sunday following his restoration from COVID-19.

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