Portugal vs Ghana : Lineups and LIVE updates
Portugal can get their Group H campaign off to a flyer against a Ghana side that have failed to win their last 7 matches in the FIFA World Cup.
The headlines are currently dominated by none other than global icon, Cristiano Ronaldo after his Manchester United career ended in a dramatic fashion.
But Ronaldo is really not troubled about the headlines, as his concentration is on the task at hand with Portugal in Qatar. Good performances on the biggest stage will automatically place him high on the shop window.
Other than Ronaldo, this Portuguese squad is jam-packed with breakout stars, world-class talents, and experienced warriors. Their regular names are back, along with burgeoning stars such as Diogo Costa, Nuno Mendes, and Rafael Leao, who complete out a stunningly deep 26-man roster.
This is arguably the golden generation of Portugal football, even better than the one that won Euro 2016. Manager Fernando Santos has successfully transitioned them from a defensive-minded team that led them to European crown in 2016 to a free-flowing, free-scoring attacking side, with even their defenders, Diogo Dalot and Joao Cancelo, getting involved in the final third.
Meanwhile, Ghana are the tournament's lowest-ranked team, but it doesn't give a proper idea about their potency to upset the apple cart.
They have recently added a great deal of talent on their roster, especially after qualifying for the World Cup that helped them persuade some top-level footballers to switch allegiance.
Mohammed Salisu, Tariq Lamptey, and Inaki Williams have all joined the Black Stars' bandwagon to Qatar, while the breakout of Ajax star Mohammed Kudus is another bright spot. That boost reflected in their comfortable 2-0 warm-up friendly victory over 15th-ranked Switzerland.
However, there is a gulf in quality between Portugal and Ghana, while the latter's World Cup history paints a bleak picture ahead of Thursday’s game.
Their last World Cup win was a narrow win over Serbia way back in the 2010 edition, while they even failed to qualify for the tournament finals in 2018.
Portugal XI (4-3-3):Costa; Cancelo, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Neves, Carvalho, Fernandes; B. Silva, Ronaldo, Leao
Ghana XI (4-2-3-1):Ati Zigi; Lamptey, Amartey, Djiku, Baba; Partey, Abdul Samed; Sulemana, Kudus, J. Ayew; Williams
After this, Portugal will lock horns with dark-horse Uruguayan side in what will be a feisty and tricky encounter for two sides, with both looking to avoid finishing second and have a tougher draw, which is likely to pit them against rampant Brazilians.
Afterwards, they will face South Korea on 2nd December, and will be aiming to secure their place in the knockout stages by the time that game comes around.
Ghana will take on South Korea before rounding off their World Cup group phase against old-foes Uruguay, hoping to stay within touch of other favourites in the group until the final matchday.