Portugal vs Switzerland — Preview

Match Preview

All the action in Portugal’s opener against Ghana came in the second half, with Portugal narrowly winning 3-2. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score at five World Cups, though Inaki Williams came close to embarrassing Portuguese goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, late on. Two goals by Bruno Fernandes were the difference as Portugal guaranteed themselves a place in the knockout phase with a win over Uruguay. Like France and Brazil, with two wins in the bag, Portugal made wholesale changes for Matchday 3, with seven alterations to their starting eleven. Despite taking a fifth-minute lead against South Korea, they were beaten 2-1, with the decisive goal coming in the 91st minute. Portugal had an average of 61.3% possession across their three games in Group H, registering a total of 14 shots on target, with 12 allowed.

Switzerland’s opening fixture against Cameroon was closely fought with the A-Team running out narrow 1-0 winners. They didn’t manage a shot on target against Brazil but held out until the 83rd minute, when Brazilian midfielder, Casemiro settled the issue. Those results set up a frenetic finale in the battle for the runners-up spot in Group G. The Swiss took the lead against Serbia, only to find themselves 2-1 behind, shortly before half-time. A Breel Embolo goal made it all square at the break, before Remo Freuler scored the winner, to send Switzerland into the last 16. The A-Team averaged 47.7% possession in those three games, with 10 shots on target, and 14 allowed.

Historically, the Seleção have been regarded as slightly the stronger of these two teams, and 9th-ranked Portugal sit six places ahead of Switzerland in the FIFA Rankings. However, the Swiss have a good record in head-to-head matches, with 11 wins to Portugal’s nine, and five draws. These teams met in the most recent edition of the Nations League, with Portugal resounding 4-0 winners in Lisbon, but Switzerland 1-0 victors in Geneva. Portugal’s veteran manager, Fernando Santos, usually prefers a 4-3-3 system, while the Swiss usually opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Swiss have fallen at the Round of 16 hurdle on four of the past five occasions they have appeared at the Finals. While that is also the likeliest outcome here, this looks one of the tougher last 16 games to call.

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