While many tipped the Selecao to beat their opponents by a huge margin, only one goal separated the two teams after 90 minutes at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
Fernando Santos named an attacking formation which included figures like Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva and Bernardo Silva.
However, none of the attacking talents could make it onto the scoresheet. Rather, it was a goal against his side of Azerbaijan Maksim Medvedev that settled the game.
Portugal’s struggles against Azerbaijan
Portugal made their breakthrough in the 36th minute but struggled to find the net thereafter. Although they made a lot of offensive forays, they were sloppy in the final third. Even the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix in the second half did not change the situation.
Santos admitted in his post-match press conference that the game was difficult. The Portugal boss thinks his side could have been better in attack but was delighted to have managed to win. He said (quoted by Besoccer):
“We won, which was most important. These games can be tough. I expected to win more comfortably, but we shouldn’t draw any conclusions.”
“We can see what went well and what didn’t. In the first half we controlled things, although sometimes we could have built attacks better.
“I think in the first half Azerbaijan didn’t even get past the midfield mark. The team was well organized, compact, reacted well to the loss of the ball. The game was controlled, but we missed when it came to creating certain opportunities. “
Positive points for Portugal
Despite struggling to break Azerbaijan, Portugal had some bright spots.
Santos oversaw his 50th win as the Selecao coach in just 80 games. The team also showed enough quality and character despite their lack of cruelty.
If lack of ambition is a challenge the coach will have to solve, he could have scored at least five goals against Azerbaijan on another day.
A team can be seen as insufficient when it is struggling to create chances. This Portugal side, however, created plenty of chances against the minnows and ended the game with 15 shots on target.
From the statistics above, it is evident that Portugal has little to fear, although they fall short of expectations against Azerbaijan. And it is likely that they will improve in the next few games.