After a solid start in the quest for their first-ever global title, Portugal stumbled in their final group stage game ahead of their match against Switzerland in the Round of 16 in Lusail on Tuesday.
Both sides looked solid in the group stages as both of them come to the knockouts with two wins. Portugal qualified for the knockouts as the winner of Group H while Switzerland finished second in Group G as they fell just one goal behind first-placed Brazil as they both had six points.
Portugal will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006. They could not get past the Round of 16 in two of their last three participations. Portugal’s biggest success in the World Cup came in 1966 when Portuguese legend Eusebio led them to a third-place finish. This time with Ronaldo, they will hope to get their hands on that golden trophy for the first time ever.
Portugal started their campaign smoothly with two straight victories against Ghana and Uruguay to secure their place in the last 16. After securing their qualification, Portuguese coach Fernando Santos made six changes to the starting XI in their final group-stage match against South Korea as they only needed a point to secure the top spot in the group. Ricardo Horta brought them the lead in the fifth minute, but the Koreans made an amazing comeback to win the game 2-1 with a 91st-minute winner. Anyhow, Uruguay’s victory against Ghana ensured Portugal’s top spot was unchallenged.
Needing all three points from the winner takes all clash against Serbia, Switzerland stood high to win the game 3-2, ensuring their qualification to the last 16.
With Nuno Mendes ruled out of the tournament and Danilo Pereira still recovering from broken ribs, Santos will bring Ruben Dias back into the XI. Diogo Dalot is likely to start again as he was impressive in the last game.
The heart of the Portuguese midfield, Bruno Fernandes, must be cautious against Switzerland as a booking will see him miss the quarter-final.
As for Switzerland, there are no reports of any injury and coach Murat Yakin is hopeful that Yann Sommer will return to the starting XI after missing out on the previous match due to illness. The remainder of the XI is likely to be unchanged.
This will be the third meeting of the two sides in 2022, having faced each other twice in the Nations League, where Portugal won the first match 4-0 in Lisbon before Switzerland turned the tables in their favour to win 1-0. The two sides have faced each other six times in competitive matches in the 21st century, with both winning three times each.