With one goal and one point between them, Portugal and Austria attempt to salvage their Euro 2016 hopes when the two nations square off in Saturday’s Group F showdown at Parc des Princes in Paris.
Four years removed from their semifinal finish in Poland and Ukraine, the Portuguese and captain Cristiano Ronaldo looked nothing like the No. 8-ranked team in the world when in their 1-1 opening draw to first-time participant Iceland.
Portugal fired off 27 total shots and only forward Nani was able to find the back of the net, with Ronaldo coming up short on each of his attempts, and Iceland managing to equalize five minutes into the second half.
Accusations of poor sportsmanship have followed Real Madrid’s Ronaldo ever since, but head coach Fernando Santos defended his superstar talisman by suggesting Iceland’s players were being disrespectful.
Nevertheless, Portugal requires a victory and the corresponding three points if it hopes to challenge Hungary for first place in the group. Another draw would endanger Portugal's streak of five consecutive trips to the quarterfinals.
“It’s a different game. I have confidence in all my players. We have the determination and ability to get the result we want,” Santos told reporters. “All four sides in our group are very strong. We have to play our best, but the primary objective is to win. They’re a side with a lot of quality and balance.”
The Austrians and head coach Marcel Koller are in a similar boat, but albeit one far more leaky. Suffering a 2-0 shock upset, Austria crumbled against Hungary and saw midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic suffer an ankle injury and defender Aleksandar Dragovic was booked twice and sent off.
Now the Austrians, who failed to qualify in 2012 after making their first appearance in 2008, are now pointless and down two goals before facing a highly motivated Portugal. To make matters worse, Austria haven’t picked off Portugal since Euro 1979.
"The situation is that we've lost 2-0 and now we have to take at least a point against Portugal -- or even better, three,” Koller said.
Prediction: Portugal over Austria, 3-0
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA), HRT 2, ARD Das Erste, ORF 1, (Austria), Sport TV1, RTP 1 (Portugal)
Live Stream: ESPN3