Portugal without Pepe, Moutinho for Latvia
LISBON: European champions Portugal will be without Real Madrid defender Pepe and Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho for their November 13 World Cup qualifying tussle with Latvia, coach Fernando Santos said Thursday.
Santos insisted that the Portuguese, who beat France to lift their first senior crown in the final of Euro 2016 in July, would overcome both absences.
“I have absolute confidence in my players,” said Santos. He however warned: “Latvia are an experienced team who will give us problems and play from the back to catch us on the counter-attack.”
The Selecao will have Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, injured in the early stages of their Paris final triumph, to call on in attack, as well as up and coming star Andre Silva, fresh from notching a hattrick against the Faroes.
Also in the squad is 19-year-old Bayern Munich star Renato Sanches, voted best young player at the Euros
Portugal are currently second in their group, three points behind Switzerland, who beat them in September, while Latvia stand fifth.
The squad welcome back defender Luis Neto of Zenit Saint Petersburg to cover for Pepe, who has a thigh strain and is in any case suspended after receiving two bookings in the group to date.
Striker Nani and midfielder Adrien both return from injury for the Latvia game in Faro.
Goalkeepers : Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Anthony Lopes (Lyon/FRA), Marafona (Sporting Braga)
Defenders: Nelson Semedo (Benfica), Joao Cancelo (Valencia/ESP), Bruno Alves (Cagliari/ITA), Luis Neto (Zenit/RUS), Jose Fonte (Southampton/ENG), Antunes (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund/GER).
Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Danilo (FC Porto), Adrien (Sporting Lisbon), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich/GER), Bernardo Silva (Monaco/FRA), Joao Mario (Inter Milan/ITA), Andre Gomes ( Barcelona/ESP).
Strikers: Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas/TUR), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Nani (Valencia/ESP), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/ESP), Eder (Lille/FRA), Andre Silva (FC Porto).