Three Players who impressed in Portugal vs Slovenia

Three Players who impressed in Portugal vs Slovenia

01/07/24 21:52

An extraordinary defensive display from Slovenia took Portugal to penalties in their Round of 16 game. Unfortunately it was not enough to see them progress into a Quarter-Final against France, but they should be proud of the way that they played. There were so many great individual displays, that it was hard to pick three who impressed, but I did narrow it down.

Jaka Bijol

The Slovenian defender will feel as if he was a little unlucky to be on the losing side after the game he had. Portugal’s game plan was to flood the box with crosses to try and force Cristiano Ronaldo to score, but Jaka Bijol and Vanja Drkusic were both excellent at stopping the ball from reaching the Portuguese legend.

Bijol was tasked with dealing with Cristiano Ronaldo all game, an unenviable task that not many defenders can say that they have completed. But Bijol can. Every cross into the box, he got to before the Portuguese captain and every time Ronaldo got on the ball he made sure he had nowhere to go.

Player Rating: 9/10


Vitinha has really shown his class in this tournament. The 24-year-old bossed the midfield from the start, threading passes to his forwards and dribbling past players with ease. On a number of occasions he was surrounded by two or three Slovenian players and looked as if he was going to lose the ball in a dangerous position, but somehow, he always managed to retain the ball.

For some reason, Roberto Martinez decided that he’d seen enough of Vitinha after 65 minutes and brought him off for Diogo Jota. I’m not a football coach, so I can’t comment too much on it, but it is not a change I would have made.

Player Rating: 8/10

Diogo Costa

It came down to penalties in the end, and Diogo Costa saved all three that he faced. Ultimately they weren’t great penalties but you can only save the shots that you face, and he did that incredibly well.

It wasn’t just in the shootout that he became the hero though. Late in extra-time Pepe’s poor touch allowed Benjamin Sesko to go through on goal, but Diogo Costa made himself big to save the 21-year-old’s effort with his feet. That was the only real test he had all game, but he executed it perfectly and so that deserves a perfect rating.

Player Rating: 10/10

Ultimately the Slovenian team did not really have any individual standouts, as they played incredibly as a unit, so I think a special mention should be made to them. From a nation that only has 60,000 registered footballers, to keep two consecutive clean sheets against England and now Portugal is quite something.

Benjamin Sesko, Andraz Sporar and Josip Ilicic will be a little bit disappointed that none of them could leave their mark on the tournament, but the Slovenian team as a whole certainly has.

As for Portugal, they face France next on Friday 5th July, another team that has performed below their usual standards. However, if they want to progress even further, they have to perform better than they did tonight. Just throwing crosses into the box is not a viable tactic at this level of football.

Benji Kosartiyer
Jake Martin



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