The history books favor Switzerland as they clash with the mighty Portuguese in a bid to propel themselves into the quarter-finals for the first time since 1954. On the other hand, Portugal will be aiming for their first qualification in the round of 16. final since 2006. The two sides met earlier this year in the UEFA Nations League. A Selecao beat the Swiss 4-0 before Rossocrociati secured a narrow 1-0 win in the reverse game.
UEFA Euro 2016 champions Portugal are set to secure what would be just their third World Cup quarter-final as they take on Switzerland in the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar on Wednesday, December 7.
In the last edition, A Selecao was eliminated in the round of 16 after losing to Uruguay. Their opponents, meanwhile, will be aiming for their first quarter-final qualification after 68 years. The Rossocrociati, like their opponents, fell in the Round of 16 last edition when they lost to Sweden.
The last five editions have not been a fairy tale for Portugal, as they have gone beyond the knockout stages only once. This happened in 2006 when they finished fourth. Apart from that, A Seleçao left the tournament in the group stages of the 2002 and 2014 World Cups and only went as far as the Round of 16 in the 2010 and 2018 editions.
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This could also be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last World Cup which could see A Seleçao step up his game and not only take the next step but also aim for the grand prize.
A strong start in the group stage gave Portugal a place in the round of 16 with one game to spare. In the opener, A Selecao beat Ghana 3-2 before securing three extra points and a clean sheet against Uruguay with a comfortable 2-0 win.
With a spot in the round of 16 booked, coach Fernando Santos decided to field a second-tier side in the final group stage encounter against South Korea. The Portuguese started with the front foot and led after just five minutes. However, they were plagued by late goals and ended up losing 2-1.
Santos will field the strongest possible squad against the Swiss as he is still without three of his players. FC Porto winger Otavio is recovering from a hamstring injury, while Paris Saint-Germain duo Nuno Mendes and Danilo Pereira are out with thigh and rib injuries respectively. Other than that, Santos have all their players available and ready to go. Portugal are set to field the same XI that beat Uruguay in the group stage, led by their talisman Ronaldo.
Switzerland are no strangers to the Round of 16 stage of the World Cup. Playing in their twelfth World Cup, this will be their eighth quarter-final. In the last four editions, the Rossocrociati have reached this stage three times. They were knocked out in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup. However, the round of 16 is the furthest the Swiss have reached in recent times, having been beaten at this stage in the World Cups from 2006, 2014 and 2018. The last time the Rossocrociati went beyond the knockout stages was when they hosted the tournament in 1954.
The World Cup journey for Switzerland began with a narrow 1-0 win over Cameroon, with Breel Embolo scoring the game’s only goal. Three points were on the board when they faced tournament favorites Brazil in the next game. The Rossocrociati held Canarinho at bay until the 83rd minute before Casemiro handed them their first defeat of the campaign. In the final game against a dedicated Serbian side, the Swiss huffed and puffed as they went from 2-1 to win 3-2 and clinched the last-16 spot on the final day.
Coach Murat Yakin will be concerned about the ambiguity surrounding the fitness of his first choice Yans Sommer and centre-back Nico Elvedi. Sommer sat out the crucial game against Serbia as Borussia Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel took his place between the sticks. Newcastle United defender Fabian Schar replaced Elvedi at the heart of defense in the same game. The Borussia Mönchengladbach duo of Sommer and Elvedi were out with an apparent cold and could be fit enough to start the game against Portugal
Team News: Portugal are still without the services of Otavio, Nuno Mendes and Danilo Pereira. Switzerland could do without Nico Elvedi and Yans Sommer.
Guide to the form: (Last five games, most recent first)
Switzerland: W – L – W – L – W
Games played: 26
Portuguese wins: 9
Switzerland wins: 11
Betting odds: (Bet365)
Portugal Possible starting 11 (4-3-1-2): Coast; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Cancelo; Carvalho, Neves, Silva; Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo.
Switzerland Possible Start 11 (4-2-3-1): Kobel; Widmer, Akanji, Schar, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Freuler; Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas; Embolo.
Portugal 2 – 1 Switzerland
Where to watch and match the timing: The match kicks off at 12:30 a.m. IST on Wednesday, December 7, and will be streamed live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. Fans can also stream the action online on the official JioCinema website.