Cristiano Ronaldo’s fairy tale ending continues with Portugal as the get ready to face a sound and capable Switzerland at the Lusail Stadium. Both sides have been impressive and are led by their engine room operators – Can Bruno Fernandes continue to shine with raw passion and refined class? Or will Granit Xhaka’s motivational role continue to be a beacon of light for the Swiss?
To Win Match
Portugal 19/20| Draw 47/20 | Switzerland 32/10
There aren’t many sides that have impressed as much as Portugal. From all round team play to individual quality, their performances earned a spot in the round of 16 after matchday two – one of just three teams to do so.
With a few running storylines in this Qatar 2022 edition of the World Cup, an eagerly anticipated arc was that of Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s conclusion. The Western European nation kicked off proceedings in fine fashion courtesy of a Ronaldo spot kick and went on to defeat Ghana 3-2.
Uruguay had started off with an uninspiring performance but recorded a clean sheet and Portugal were able to show why they are level above the rest defeating the South Americans 2-0. After earning six points the Seleção das Quinas had already earned a spot a round of 16 spot and were able to rest a number of key players and that resulted in a 2-1 defeat to South Korea that came in the dying moments of the fixture.
Ahead of the tournament Portugal were not considered one of the favourites, and Fernando Santos’ men have come up clutch with impressive performances to top Group H. Bruno Fernandes has arguably been the player of the tournament today with work ethic and technique that shines through the flair his able to exhibit.
While many would love Ronaldo to be the star of the show, this campaign is really just a tip of the hat to the legend of the sport. Santos must deal with a few injuries, namely left-back Nuno Mendes who is still a doubt, Danilo is out with a fractured rib, and Otavio sat out the last two group stage fixtures.
Portugal have put themselves among the favourites and overcoming the Swiss will be a statement of overcoming a well-oiled machine.
Switzerland had an impressive run in the 2020 edition of the European Championship and was considered among a select few dark horses heading into the Qatar World Cup. The Swiss have shown the ability to maintain an impartial approach to a fixture regardless of the opposition or circumstances.
Switzerland claimed a heated narrow 3-2 victory over Serbia to reach the last 16 of the World Cup for the third consecutive tournament, but they did set themselves up with two previous results that set them up heading into their final fixture in Group G. In the opening round, The Red-Crosses Cameroonian-born Breel Embolo secured a 1-0 victory over his birth country, followed by their toughest task in overcoming Brazil, but failed to do so losing 1-0 late on in the tie.
At age 48, Murat Yakin is among the youngest coaches in Qatar, and his youthful energy seems to translate onto the field of play with the Swiss. Watching the Swiss play makes for entertaining viewing and stalwarts in captain Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri make the team tick.
Young forward Embolo has netted two goals already and you can be sure he’ll look for a third. Yakin had been among the fortunate coaches seeing just one player suffer injury as Noah Okafor was a doubt against Serbia but featured in the final group stage fixture. Switzerland has seven players currently on a yellow card, and should they stay disciplined in the round of 16 will have a clean slate if they progress.
Switzerland’s seventh place finish at the 2020 European championships will sit fresh in their minds. Defeating World Champions France will still be fresh in the minds of every player present as they come up against Portugal.
Verdict: Portugal Win (19/20)
This is likely to be a tough match for Portugal, as Switzerland have been known to be giant slayers. There is no question that Yakin’s side are capable of securing a victory, but Portugal has the superior quality in their squad, and we can expect the Ronaldo to continue his fairy tale ending – for now.