Portugal’s main XI should be well rested after Fernando Santo rang the changes for the nation’s final group game against South Korea, having already confirmed qualification. Cristiano Ronaldo and Co endured a shock 2-1 defeat but that didn’t affect their position as table-toppers in Group H.
Form and confidence are precious commodities in football, so Portugal will still be feeling deflated after that defeat; as they are no doubt feeling after losing to Switzerland back in June’s Nations League. The Swiss will have no inferiority complex heading into this one after beating the nation 1-0 in Group A2 back in the summer.
Murat Yakin’s men looked good then, and they look good now. The A-Team were largely resilient against Brazil, with the tournament favourites requiring a late deflected Casemiro goal to seal a 1-0 win, while they also kept Cameroon muzzled in a 1-0 win and beat Serbia 3-2. That result illustrated the best of Switzerland.
Yakin found the perfect harmony of chaos and control in the groups. Breel Embolo, Ruben Vargas and Xherdan Shaqiri brought the flamboyance and unpredictable carnage, while Remo Freuler, Djibril Sow and Granit Xhaka added a layer of midfield tenacity and endeavour. Portugal won’t find this one easy.
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Portugal vs Switzerland match stats
The Navigators have already won and scored a penalty this tournament, and against a nation who aren’t exactly tackle shy, they will be waiting for contact when they penetrate enemy lines. In fact, of the qualified nations at the World Cup, only Argentina (45) have won more fouls than Portugal (41). By those same parameters, only the Netherlands (47), Japan (45) and Morocco (44) have conceded more fouls than Switzerland (43). Granit Xhaka loves putting his body on the line, but he will need to temper his enthusiasm when Portugal wander into their box.
Ronaldo will be itching to get on the turf as he has a pretty formidable record against the Swiss. In three games against them, the ageing sensation has bagged five goals, including a hat-trick in the 2018/19 Nations League semi-final. It was the inaugural competition and Portugal ultimately went on to win the first trophy, beating the Netherlands in the final 1-0.
12 Jun 2022 – Switzerland 1-0 Portugal – Nations League
05 Jun 2022 – Portugal 4-0 Switzerland – Nations League
05 Jun 2019 – Portugal 3-1 Switzerland – Nations League
10 Oct 2017 – Portugal 2-0 Switzerland – World Cup Qualifier
06 Sep 2016 – Switzerland 2-0 Portugal – World Cup Qualifier
As mentioned, Switzerland secured a 1-0 win over Portugal back in June to dent their hopes of reaching the Nations League finals. Haris Seferovic scored the goal, while Portugal were defanged, helped largely because Ronaldo wasn’t available that day. The week prior, Santos’ men won 4-0 and Ronaldo did play, with the superstar free agent getting a brace and an assist. He was the difference-maker then, can he be the difference-maker on Tuesday?