TugaScout is an English-language site reporting on matters associated with Portuguese football by freelance writer Alex Goncalves, offering the latest news, reviews and opinions surrounding the Portuguese League and the Seleção players based abroad.

Changes expected for Portugal's clash with Serbia - what could the XI look like?

Fernando Santos has hinted at making several changes for Portugal’s meeting with Serbia this evening in the wake of their stalemate with Ukraine in their first Euro 2020 qualifier.

There were a handful of Portuguese players that failed to perform to the level we’ve come to expect of them in that last fixture - even your usual standout performers like Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo were less than spectacular.

So who could we see Fernando Santos name in his starting eleven this time around?


In terms of the backline, you would imagine it would remain largely unchanged. Patricio, while far from convincing, will almost certainly remain in between the sticks, and playing either Beto or Sa ahead of him would be s surprise.

The centreback partnership of Pepe and Ruben Dias will also almost certainly remain in place for the clash, the defensive duo arguably the best performers against Ukraine on a night where attacking potency was lacking. Raphael Guerreiro also did enough to remain in the side for the next match.

Cancelo, on the other hand, disappointed, his crossing on the day one of the major reasons that Portugal struggled to break the deadlock. A surprisingly poor performance from the Juventus man, who is usually a world-class right back.

Nelson Semedo stepping in in his place is certainly something that many Selecao fans would be delighted to see, the Barcelona man more than meriting a chance to represent his country yet again.


In the last match, Santos opted for a starting eleven that were more suited to a 4-3-3 formation, opting for the trio of Ruben Neves, William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho. Whether he’ll go with a more conventional 4-4-2 on this occasion remains to be seen, although it’s certainly a real possibility.

If so, at least one of those three midfielders will need to be dropped. William surely won’t, one of the best players in the match against Ukraine, as he so often is. Since he’s usually utilised in a more box-to-box role for his country, that likely means that Ruben Neves will be the player kept to play alongside him. But of course, there are other options in the side, Danilo Pereira as a more defensive option or Pizzi as that playmaker Portugal seemed to be missing versus Ukraine.

On the flanks, Bernardo Silva, despite his lacklustre performance last time out, will start on the right flank, while someone like Rafa Silva could be perfect for this match on the left for counter-attacking opportunities and a little bit more explosiveness and directness.


Up top, Andre Silva led the line last time out and, while he often gets a bit of stick for fans of the national team, did a decent job without scoring. His movement was good at times, and his excellent curling effort in the second half looked destined to hit the back of the net but for a fantastic save from Ukraine’s keeper.

In any case, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone else start in his place against Serbia, with both Dyego Sousa and Diogo Jota very viable options to start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Many fans would be calling out for Joao Felix to start, the 19-year old a truly exciting prospect, but injury means that his place in the XI is out of the question.

That would leave three viable options to play up top with Ronaldo in a 4-4-2 - Silva, Jota or Sousa. Dyego Sousa also did well when he came on, the Brazilian born international beginning to justify why he was picked by Santos.

But one player that would be great to see start - for the first time ever for the senior national team - is Diogo Jota. After a terrific campaign with Wolves, he’s shown his ability to play alongside a bigger, more physical striker, showing excellent link-up play and a keen eye for goal. His movement could help Portugal do what they didn’t against Ukraine and grab a goal or two.

My chosen XI

Rui Patricio; Nelson Semedo, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Rafa; Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota.

Combined statistics for Portugal vs Ukraine and Serbia paint a frustrating picture for Portugal

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