Why Portugal avoiding defeat against Italy means more than just qualification
Portugal are on the verge of qualifying for yet another competitive semifinal, something they have become quite accustomed to since the turn of the century, having already made the last four of either the World Cup or the Euros on five occasions in the last ten tournaments.
And avoiding defeat against Italy tonight will see the Seleção qualify for the first ever UEFA Nations League semi-final - the first nation to ever do so, in fact.
Having seen the likes of Spain, France, and Germany all slip up in recent days, the latter already relegated from their group and both Spain and France with their spots in the next round entirely out of their hands, the tournament has suddenly started to open up for the Portuguese.
In fact, as a result of the manner in which some of the European heavyweights have started to fall, Portugal have now been bumped up to third favourites to win the entire completion, having started the tournament as only seventh favourites of just twelve sides.
All Portugal now have to do is avoid defeat at the hands of Italy and they will make the final four. Lose by a single goal and a draw in their final match against Poland would be sufficient. Lose by two or more, and it's still in their hands; defeat Poland and they make the semifinal.
But avoiding defeat against Italy means more than just making another competitive semifinal; Portugal, with qualification, will also earn the right to another prestigious honour that they have only been awarded once in their entire footballing history; football will, quite literally, be coming home for the Portuguese.
That is because Portugal will earn the right to host both the semifinal and final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League competition if they top the group, meaning that a senior international footballing tournament will be held in Portugal for just the second time ever, only after Portugal hosted the Euros in 2004, where they finished runners-up, losing to Greece in the final in Lisbon.
Avoiding defeat to Italy means more than just qualification.