Our football match prediction:
Ugly scenes marred New Zealand’s brave performance against the more quality Mexican side on Wednesday as All Whites suffered a 2-1 defeat despite leading at half time. It was Leeds United’s Chris Wood who opened the scoring to give New Zealand a surprising lead, but the game later on boiled as Mexico captain Diego Reyes pulled back Michael Boxall which sparked a mass brawl.
All Whites have lost all chances of making it through to the next stage of the competition and will have only their pride to fight for against the reigning European Champions. Portugal put in a defensively-improved display against Russia, never allowing themselves same mistakes that marked the Mexico match when Fernando Santos’ men wasted the lead on two occasions for a 2-2 draw. Cristiano Ronaldo made sure Portugal grabbed all three points against hosts Russia with his early first-half goal and now it is up to a quality-packed Portugal side to once again prove their superiority and finish the group stages with a win.
Highligted Player (Winston Reid):
Despite playing for Denmark youth teams in the past, Winston Reid decided to represent New Zealand at senior level. The prolific defender spent his youth career at Danish clubs Sonderborg and Midtjylland and he made his first appearance for the Midtjylland first team in the Royal League tournament against Valerenga. Winston Reid was making progress year by year and he was on West Ham’s radar during the 2009/2010 season. In the summer of 2010 (August) Reid signed a three-year deal with the Hammers and he made his Premier League debut in a 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa on August 14, 2010. However, the New Zealand defender made no more than 12 appearances for West Ham United in his first season for the capital club. To make things even worse for him, at the end of the 2010/2011 Premier League campaign the Hammers dropped to the Championship. You should bear in mind that Winston Reid played three games for New Zealand at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and he scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Slovakia.
Highlighted Team (Portugal):
Portugal started competing at the biggest stage in the 1930’s, but they had to wait for almost seventy years to establish themselves as a top side. The third place finish at the 1966 World Cup was a one-off result as the Selecao needed another 40 years to get past the group stage, reaching the semi-finals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Portugal enjoyed more success on the continent, finishing third at the 1984, 2000 and 2012 European Championships, while losing in the final to Greece at the Euro 2004 that was held on home soil. Despite being able to count on one of world’s best ever footballers Cristiano Ronaldo, the Selecao have yet to lift a major trophy and they will not have too many opportunities to do so before the Real Madrid superstar retires. Eusebio remains the most famous footballer to have played for Portugal, while Luis Figo, Simao Sabrosa, Pedro Pauleta, Rui Costa and Nani are also worth mention. The Selecao currently boast an impressive pool of world-class talent and it should not be long before they end the trophy drought.