After both qualified for the World Cup knockout phase with two wins from three, Group H winners Portugal meet Group G runners-up Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.
In one of just two all-European ties amid a diverse last 16, two teams who experienced very different fortunes in their final group fixtures contest a precious place in the quarter-finals.
A successful start to their Qatar 2022 campaign left Portugal needing just a point in the final round of group matches to be certain of finishing first, and qualification for the knockout stages had already been assured.
When Ricardo Horta – one of a number of fresh faces introduced for the occasion by coach Fernando Santos – put them ahead against South Korea in the fifth minute, it seemed the Selecao would stroll straight through. Yet, their opponents staged one of several comebacks that have characterised the finals’ first fortnight: equalising before the break and then producing a dramatic 91st-minute strike to condemn them to a 2-1 defeat.
Despite suffering their first setback, Uruguay’s victory over Ghana sealed Portugal’s progress as Group H top dogs, and they now seek to successfully negotiate the last 16 for the first time since 2006, when they ultimately finished fourth in Germany.
We say: Portugal 2-1 Switzerland (after extra time)
Given such an abundance of attacking talent, Portugal rarely have a problem with scoring – but protecting a lead is often another matter.
The persistent negativity of Fernando Santos often sees the Selecao retreat, which would allow a capable Swiss side to come into their own and force extra time. Nonetheless, the big-game nous of Pepe, Ronaldo and co should just see them over the line.
This match will take place at 7:00 P.m
This match will take place on 6 December 2022.
Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Cancelo; B. Silva, Neves, Carvalho; Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo
Sommer; Widmer, Akanji, Schar, Rodriguez; Freuler, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas; Embolo
Portugal are clearly fancied by the bookmakers in this match, but there is some evident respect for Switzerland after their win over Serbia to secure a knockout-stage spot.
The odds may also reflect some trepedation regarding Portugal, whose team harmony is in question following the fallout from Ronaldo’s Manchester United exit and his chemistry with former Old Trafford teammate Fernandes.