“In a group with only eight games, each game should be approached as a final and we have to face them as such. Obviously, we recognise that we are favourites against Azerbaijan, but if we are not focused, do not respect the opponent and do not use our physical, technical and mental assets, we can have problems”, warned Fernando Santos.
Despite Portugal being one of the favourite teams to guarantee qualification for the final phase of the World Cup, the Portuguese coach stated that the team “cannot take anything for granted”, and this unprecedented run of qualifying matches will lead to more demands from the team.
“In order to reach the final stages, to achieve the goal that we all want, we have to be there, in the final stages. We cannot take it for granted; we must have a total focus on qualifying games. Usually, we only play two games in each window and the physical availability of the players is always different”, argued Fernando Santos.
Portugal will be facing Serbia, in Belgrade, on Saturday, and Luxembourg, in Luxembourg City, three days later. Both games start at 19:45 (Lisbon time).
To guarantee automatic qualification in the World Cup, which will be taking place in Qatar, Portugal needs to win the group, with the second placed team being forced into the play offs.